Karateka gear up for Commonwealth champs

Karate Satoris Jayden Molander, 11, right, a Grade 4 pupil at Cornflower Primary School, was among a number of students from the club who performed well at Unicity youth karate championships, in Belhar, at the weekend

Pictures: Lonwabo Marele

This comes as 21 of the youngsters from the dojo bagged medals and qualified for the provincial team during the Unicity karate youth championships, in Belhar, at the weekend.

Coached by fifth dan, chief instructor and 2008 Commonwealth champion, Jeffrey Jackson, the youngsters – from Portland, Rocklands, Strandfontein, Tafelsig Lentegeur and Mandalay – have to look no further than their own sensei for inspiration.

Jackson praised the weekend’s youth championship saying it was well run. “People who organised the tournament were very professional. If there was something they didn’t do right, they had a team to sort it out immediately. All children were well placed.

“I think this was one of the best provincial tournaments for youngsters in quite a while.

“We had 25 of our fighters compete and 21 of them made the provincial team. Eighteen of them are heading to the Commonwealth championships in December,” he said.

Jackson said the Commonwealth Games played a keyrole in shaping him to make a difference in the community.

“The Commonwealth championships are a big stage for athletes. It is not like any other city or provincial tournament. It is a national tournament where you can make the green and gold.

He said there were a lot of sporting opportunities, including karate, in the area to keep the youngsters out of trouble.

“Sometimes, karate instructors make people believe that they are in the right house but are only taking their children’s money. What is important is to get the kids to big events, that is the biggest motivation any fighter needs,” he said.

Jackson said his youngsters were focusing on a number of techniques this week, ahead of the Commonwealth championships.

“Preparations are on track. Right now, this week, we are focusing on power and speed training.

“Some of them are good hand fighters, some of them are good kickers.

“They have different strengths, but what we do at training is we equip them to be good with both hands and kicking.

“We are leaving on Wednesday, November 29, and the tournament is from Saturday December 1 to Monday December 3,” he said.

Jackson said karate can provide a bridge to the classroom by acting as an effective educational and socialising instrument.

“Most of the kids come from homes with a single parent and small incomes and it’s not easy for parents to keep an eye on them because they are at work.

“For anyone who wants to put their children in sport, sport teaches you a lot of discipline, awareness and defence. Bullying is real and karate teaches your kid to defend themself.

“Children can’t play outside like we used to anymore because of what is going on in our neighbourhoods,” he said.

Jackson said they have training from Monday to Saturday morning at several venues, including the Town Centre Library and in Strandfontein, Rocklands, Tafelsig, Lentegeur, Mandalay and Portland.