By James Somper
A 75-year-old karate-mad pensioner dubbed ‘ninja nan’ can break boards with her bare hands and flip grown men three times her weight – despite being just 5ft 1in.
Formidable Ede Smith, who weighs just seven stone, isn’t letting rheumatoid arthritis and a knee replacement get in the way of the fact she is soon to qualify for her black belt.
The married grandma-of-five got into karate five years ago after her grandson took her to a training session at his school – and insists she would be able to defend herself if attacked by a full-grown man.
Former soldier and mum-of-one Ede, a proud brown belt wearer from Great Dalby, Leics, said: “I like karate because it proves to me that I’m capable of doing things that I didn’t think I would be able to do otherwise.
“It also keeps you mentally alert, as you have to know when the next punch is coming.
“If someone tried to hurt me I’d kick the hell out of them.
“My son-in-law is 6ft4in and he always takes the mick.
“I’d gone round to his one night and I asked him to punch me. I dared him to do it and to do it properly. But instead I smacked him in the sternum and the chest.
“I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis, a knee replacement and nine months ago had a high calcium count which left me unable to do much at all – but it’s never stopped me from enjoying karate.
“Despite my arthritis, I always work through the pain and I’m now fighting fit.
“I even had an operation on my thyroid at the end of April, but by the beginning of May I was back in the dojo.
“I’m certainly a lot fitter than most people my age.
“People say to me ‘you’re so extraordinary’ but I’m not.
“I’m a very ordinary person, but I just do extraordinary things now and again.
“I’m a nutter, most people think I am. I’ve got a great sense of humour.
“I just love life. It’s here to be lived, it’s not a practice, you only get once chance.”
Ede said that she only has two ambitions left for herself before her age finally does get the better of her – to wing walk, and achieve her black belt soon.
And the pensioner said while most of her friends are now taking things at a slower pace, she’s fitter and busier than she’s ever been.
Ede has become so competent at the sport that she is now capable of chopping boards at her Go Kan Ryu (GKR) karate class, held weekly in nearby Thurmaston.
But luckily she has never been tempted to throw husband Colin, a retired grandad-of-five, onto the floor for misbehaving.
Ede said: “I can’t say I can always do everything perfectly but I can work through it and do it to the very best of my ability.
“It’s important to stay as active as you can.
“There are so many things people of my age can do if they just put their minds and body’s to it.
“Even if your body’s not able, your mind still is.
“I know Colin is very proud – he always says ‘you can do it’.
“I’ve got my brown belt but I’m training at the moment towards my black belt.
“Obtaining this is my main ambition, and I’m going to get it.”
Nick Jones, senior GKR instructor for Lecistershire, said: “Ede is amazing.
“She’s been with us for a long time and she’s a great ambassador the sport.
“She’s got a pretty determined attitude and doesn’t let anything get in her way.
“You wouldn’t want to mug her in a park.”
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James said: “Ede was a formidable opponent.
“Despite her age, her prowess and strength cannot be underestimated.
“From the moment we started exchanging blows, it was clear she was razor sharp and determined to do all she could be beat me, which, she of course did.”