Years of Taekwan-Do training has taught Tauranga teenager Dakota Filer the importance of self-respect, discipline and perseverance.
And the 15-year-old put those skills to the test over the weekend at the ITF Taekwon-Do National Championships in Tauranga.
About 280 competitors came from across the country to compete at the two-day event held at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre.
Filer was just one of 50 from Tauranga competing. Disciplines at the competition included sparring, power breaking (board breaking), patterns performances, special techniques and other team events.
Event co-organiser Christine Young described the championships as a "character-building event" for those involved.
"They need to focus, persevere and sometimes pick themselves up from disappointment," Young said.
"They should be proud of themselves for stepping out in this environment."
The event was also a great testing ground for up-and-comers who were looking to compete at an international level further down the track, she said.
"For young people, it can be scary. For them to even put themselves forward is a very brave step."
She believed clubs across the country demonstrated a strong community spirit, which helped create friendships between competitors.
"Even though it is an individual journey, the club environment supports you. It is a great environment to build friendships because it is forged in adversity and challenge," she said.
Taekwon-Do proved popular with all age groups, with competitors ranging in age from eight to 55.
"It is a marshall art that is a way of life - it is people something can do from a young age and continue through to an older age for health, fitness and mental wellbeing," she said.
Filer, who started Taekwon-Do at 8 years old, said sparring was her favourite event at the competition. She trains three times a week.
"It just the thrill and stuff, it is quite exhilarating."
Filer said sparring over the weekend was great fun, despite placing second in her division.
"People who saw my sparring said it was the best they had ever seen me."
The Otumoetai College student said the sport taught self-respect, discipline and perseverance and respect for others.
"You learnt not to misuse it, and you can't give up. It is a good anger release. If I am feeling stressed or upset, I just do Taekwan-do."