Careers in Cork: Couple teach karate to 80 people

In the final part of his Careers in Cork series, TIMOTHY O’MAHONY catches up with couple Rebecca and Fernando Hisatugo, based in Rochestown/ Douglas, who run a karate club called FH Karate Team
Careers in Cork: Couple teach karate to 80 people

Rebecca and Fernando Hisatugo of FH Karate Team.

THIS week, we hear from a couple, Rebecca and Fernando Hisatugo, who run a Karate club called FH Karate Team in Rochestown/Douglas, teaching adults and kids from the age of four.

Their main classes are based in Garryduff Sports Centre and they run after-school classes in the Educate Together national school in Douglas, as well as teaching classes in the afternoons. Rebecca tells us more...

In the Beginning

My husband Fernando started training Karate in Brazil when he was only five and became a Sensei at the age of 16.

He ran his own club in Brazil and became Brazilian national champion and created several national and international champions.

Fernando Hisatugo with daughter Lyra.
Fernando Hisatugo with daughter Lyra.

When I was 24, I started training karate as his student and this is how we met.

We later got married and decided to move to Cork with our kids.

In Cork, we decided to build the club up again as this is something that we are both very passionate about. We started with only one little girl who wanted to learn karate and slowly started increasing our classes. We now have over 80 students. We recently started teaching after school classes in a local school.

As a child, I was always very interested in martial arts but never had the chance to take classes. To be working with this now is truly amazing and it really feels like this is what I am meant to be doing.

My husband feels the same way, having been a Sensei all his life, after moving to Cork he was very passionate about getting back to teaching karate again.

The Best thing about Our Work

The best thing about our work is that my husband and I get to work together while also taking care of our kids whom we can bring to work with us. Being together as a family is very important to us and Fernando and I work very well together, each having a very important role in the club.

We both enjoy working with kids and feel very passionate about bringing physical activity classes to the local community.

Being able to provide a fun and safe place for kids to learn such an amazing martial art is truly amazing.

Watching the kids grow, make friends and have fun is very fulfilling. Another great thing about our work is that our own kids get to train and they really enjoy it.

Rebecca and Fernando Hisatugo with daughters Megan and Lyra.
Rebecca and Fernando Hisatugo with daughters Megan and Lyra.

Overview of what We Do

We teach karate to kids and adults, starting from the age of four. I am the owner of the club, taking care of all administrative tasks such as communicating with parents, invoicing, bookings, placing orders, managing the website, shooting and editing videos, etc. I also help out in classes as an assistant coach.

With a degree in Physical Education, Fernando is the Sensei, the heart and soul of the club, teaching the students the ancient art of karate and conducting examinations for the change of belts.

The classes are divided by age groups with the intention of having age-appropriate activities and developing age appropriate skills.

The classes are also fun, with lots of activities with the intention of teaching kids to love physical activity and develop healthy habits for their future.

The People, our Students and our Karate Community

I work directly with all our students and parents. As an assistant coach, I work closely with all the kids during class, helping them when necessary.

I also make a point of getting to know all the kids’ parents, making myself always available during training sessions so parents can always approach me with questions or doubts.

This leaves Sensei Fernando free to focus on the kids and teaching the classes.

Even though they are group classes, Sensei Fernando works with the students within their own individual needs, taking into consideration their own individual development and progress. Most of our students are between the ages of four and 12.

The Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge for us has been managing four jobs and two kids between the two of us while we build the club up.

With no family at all in Cork, every day is a challenge as we work very hard to be able to grow the club and open more classes and provide more opportunity for the local community to join the fantastic activity that is karate.

Family is so important.
Family is so important.

Unwinding Karate Style

As crazy as it may sound, both Fernando and I train karate when we want to unwind. We sometimes train karate together in our living room or at the gym and in the summer, at the local park.

For me, karate was my hobby before it became my job and it still is my favourite thing to do.

For Fernando, karate is his whole life as he started training when he was only five.

Training together makes us feel more connected and we really enjoy having each other as training buddies.

Apart from this, I really enjoy doing face painting for kids, calligraphy and playing video games.

As for Fernando, he practises another martial art also.

The Hisatugo family.
The Hisatugo family.

On the Weekends

We spend the weekends with the kids. I always do a bit of face painting on them and we take them to the local park.

We always go out to a good restaurant, and many times we spend the day at a friend’s house or have friends over at our place.

Once a month, we get together with another couple and we spend the day playing board games.

Occasionally, we have training sessions on weekends too, giving kids a bit of extra training when there is a special event coming up such as a festival or belt graduation exam.

Shout Outs

I am really grateful to all the parents who trust us with their kids. As a parent myself, I know how tough it is to be taking the kids up and down to all their activities and I feel truly honoured every day when we teach, knowing that parents trust us to be teaching their kids.

I am very grateful for the staff at Garryduff Sports Centre and Douglas Rochestown ETNS who are truly fantastic.

Ambitions for the Future

Our goal is to have the club running full time to give students the opportunity to train many times a week if they wish. Having more availability in our class schedule to give everybody who wants to join, more options for class times.

We have concrete plans to be opening more classes very soon and have competition focused classes as well as classes for advanced techniques.

People can check our website and class times at

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