It is no fluke that the Kyokushin Karate national championships will be held at Woodville on Easter Saturday.
Woodville's honour is due to the dedication of Dojo Bob Fryer, who has been coaching continually for the past 40 years in Tararua. The national body has recognised Bob's milestone, hence the awarding of Woodville as the host.
The event will be held at the Woodville Stadium on Saturday, April 3, starting at 9am. There will be door sales, with members of the public welcome to come along to cheer on the 12 locals entered. There will be a canteen with proceeds to aid the Woodville Pantry.
Fighters will be coming from as far as Auckland, with 150 entered in total so far from all ages.
Eric Miller from Woodville will be one to watch in the junior division. Jazmine Dean from Woodville is entered in Team Kata, Individual Kata and will be having her first fight at a tournament. Corban Greatbatch will be competing in the intermediate boys. Coral Smith is entered in the over 35s, so watch out for her too.
■ Forty Years As Dojo
Bob Fryer has been in Kyokushin Karate for 50 years, the past 40 as Dojo in Tararua.
"I started near Gisborne in my late 20s," he said. "Water just poured off me, I started running - going from 17 stone down to 13 stone [108kg to 82kg].
"I enjoyed it, it was a challenge. I trained, trained and trained, having John Jarvis as Dojo (one of the top coaches in New Zealand.) Then I transferred to Opapa, south of Hastings.
"There I was training by myself, then found a coach in Waipawa. That led on to joining a group in Flaxmere. From there I moved again on to Woodville. There was no Kyokushin there at that stage. I wrote to my old instructor in Flaxmere to get permission to start coaching in Woodville and he said I could go ahead, that was in 1980.
"We opened up in the old Drill Hall in Woodville (where the stadium is now) with 80 people turning up on the first night, mostly from Woodville. Next night there were around 100. From then till now I've put through around 500 members.
"Jeff Thomson was quite a good fighter from Woodville. The martial arts give people a direction and they turn out to be good citizens for their community. Ian Riley from Woodville was a graded member and Warren Taylor another one to mention.
"We used to go to all the running events, including the Plodathon in Pahiatua. The first person past the Tui Brewery would win a dozen bottles of beer. We had the fastest man for that job, David Chard.
"We've been to most tournaments in New Zealand, some of our members have done quite well. Years ago we started the Junior Nationals in Woodville with my wife, Susan. It was for juniors and novice seniors, we ran that for 10 years," said Bob.
"We put Woodville on the map in Japan as I've had people come out here and train with us and they have fought in World tournaments.
"We've had people from Sweden come and train with us, then they've gone back and joined the army, which is compulsory there. We had a young boy from South Africa come out and train with us.
"I have a lot of patience with people. I never really thought I would go this long. To join, come along to the Dojo in the Old Folks' Hall in McLean St in Woodville on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5.30pm to 7pm.
"I trained Peter Mudford in a wheelchair, I thought 'that's a challenge'. We had to change and adapt things. Peter entered a few tournaments in Kata. I think every coach should train someone who's in a wheelchair."