It has been a few years since the Hamilton Wado-Kai Karate Club last stepped foot on to the tatami (competition mat) with a large number of competitors, but this little club was always destined to return one day to continue the vision of the late Sensei Robbie Smith.
In the past three months, the club's dedicated tournament squad, led by one of the club's first cohort of squad members, Sensei Jimileen Tamaki and Sensei Jessie Wang, competed in three regional/national tournaments.
Most of the squad were competing for the first time in age divisions ranging from 6 years to veteran in both kata and kumite. The oldest squad member was late 50s. Results from each tournament exceeded everyone's expectations.
In total, the club gained three golds, two silvers and eight bronze medals at the Central North Island Championships in Tauranga in March; two golds, silver and two bronze medals at the NZ Open in Christchurch in April; and two golds, six silvers and six bronze medals at the Auckland Championships earlier this month. Congratulations to all members — Yoke Fong, Jean Chye, Alison Oliver, Grace Lim, Kaylin Fong, Kaysie Fong, Millie Johns, RhyBakker, Torhan Kurnaz, Arikan Kurnaz, Jaivan Nair, Alida Degueldre, Enzo Degueldre and Celia Wang.
"We are proud of the medals that were won but more importantly, the fact that all squad members have stepped outside of their comfort zones and agreed to participate. That's the biggest win for the club," said Jessie Wang.
The squad is carefully preparing for the upcoming NZ Nationals in Porirua mid-July, and while the wins have stirred a renewed confidence in everyone, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Two of the club's squad members were selected to represent New Zealand at the 19th Oceania Karate Championships and the 2nd Oceania Karate Cup next week in Auckland, Alison Oliver and Millie Johns. Jessie Wang was selected as a New Zealand coach coaching the Oceania Cup athletes.
Big thank you to sponsors — Hillcrest Warehouse, Ipp Ltd and Bushido Ltd for donating bags, embroidery services and karate gear to each squad member, and also thank you to the devoted parents for your support and keeping everyone grounded.