After 25 years perfecting her craft, diminutive Kiwi kata fighter Andrea Anacan was forced to use it outside dojo.
Last year New Zealand karate exponent Andrea Anacan was confronted with a novel situation.
The 29-year-old Anacan, who is on track to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year, had never been forced to use her skills outside the dojo.
That was until an incident at the appliance repair company where she works, when a customer turned violent over his faulty television.
"He had been told it was uneconomical to repair," said Anacan.
"But he wouldn't take no for an answer. He was asked to leave by my colleague but refused. He got agitated. He came around to our area and lunged for my colleague's neck and started strangling him."
Anacan, who stands only 1.50m, knew she had to intervene. "I was telling him to calm down, but he wouldn't," said Anacan.
"I stood up and pulled the customer and said 'stop strangling him'. He wouldn't, he was really going for the neck." Anacan then jumped on to the man's back.
"I went for his neck and said 'please calm down; you don't need to do that'. He let go of my colleague and started attacking me. I had to tighten my grip."
He eventually relented and was released, falling to the floor, before the police were called.
"I teach my students that if someone wants to fight you, you run away first," said Anacan.
"But that was a time where I had to use it, not for my benefit, but for someone else's.
There was nothing else I could do, it was the last resort. I didn't want to punch him; I just wanted to stop him hurting anyone else."
Perhaps ironically, Anacan specialises in the kata discipline of karate, the non- combat form which emphasises a formalised sequence of movements. Her decision to give up competing in kumite (the fighting discipline) was pragmatic, as she stopped growing at the age of 15.
It's also paid off, with rapid progress in recent years, and she is now ranked 11th in the world for kata.
Anacan's karate journey began when she was 4 years old, living in her native Philippines. Her parents had a business in the local mall, and the youngster would watch kids doing ballet, karate and taekwondo in a neighbouring studio.
One day her mother Mary Ann asked if she wanted to take up ballet or karate. At that time the Philippines was suffering from a spate of kidnappings, so the pre-schooler had a topical reply. "If I get kidnapped, am I going to dance in front of them?" she told her mother.
"I started karate a few months later and I loved it."
Still, life in Manila was complicated; they lived behind high fences and barred windows and the entire school was gated. It was draining, and security concerns prompted the family's move to New Zealand when Anacan was 12.
There was a degree of culture shock and it also wasn't easy finding a new karate club.
"I almost gave up, I missed my Sensei and my teammates," said Anacan.
"I tried another club but mum said I was crying every time I would go there."
That's when the family met Johnny Ling at the Shotokan Shitoryi Karate Association in west Auckland, and Anacan found her ideal mentor.
"I owe him a lot," said Anacan. "He has been amazing for me."
Ling works from 4am to midday at the family business, then teaches karate in the afternoons and evenings.
"He does it because he is passionate about it," said Anacan.
"His heart and soul is in it. He even has a dojo inside his house."
Anacan was dedicated and talented, but her height was becoming an issue. She practised both kumite and kata, but was struggling against much taller opponents.
"Sensei said 'you are going to train both', but I stopped growing," said Anacan.
"I didn't even reach five feet."
The turning point came at a regional tournament when she was 15.
"I got beaten up - they just kept hitting my chest," said Anacan. "That night I couldn't breathe, my chest was red, almost bruised. That's when Sensei said I need to stop."
It wasn't a difficult decision.
"I always loved kata and had some anxiety about kumite," said Anacan. "I'd always been the smallest kid in the class and even when I grew, people grew as well and I was still the smallest. You feel how heavy the punches are."
Anacan made steady progress in the kata discipline, and was soon recognised as one of the best in Oceania. But the Olympics were always a pipe dream, even when the sport was finally accepted for the Tokyo edition in August 2016.
"I wasn't going for it," said Anacan. "In my mind it just wasn't feasible for me.
"[Others] went to train and compete in Europe. I wasn't going to do that because I was working and my Sensei was here."
But things changed after the 2018 World Championships in Madrid. Anacan won three consecutive matches, before being eliminated in the quarter-finals by two time world champion Japanese Kiyou Shimizu.
Anacan finished seventh overall from a field of 66 competitors, the best finish ever recorded by a Kiwi at a senior world championships.
"The Oceania manager said 'you should really think about this'," said Anacan.
"I prayed a lot about it, talked to Sensei and asked; what do you think?. Do we have a shot? We weren't aiming for the Olympics ... but that seventh place made us think."
Another Oceania triumph in April 2015 sealed the deal, and since then Anacan has competed in Shanghai, Montreal, Tokyo, Santiago, Madrid (again), Paris, Dubai and Salzburg, with the latter two featuring impressive seventh-place finishes in Karate 1 Premier League events.
Her ascension has attracted backing from High Performance Sport New Zealand and she has also appreciated the support of the national body and her club.
But there is no easy road for Anacan, who still lives in the family home. Her parents have funded trips for years, as well as the equipment and gear, while Anacan has worked full time for most of her adult life.
"It's sleep, eat, work, karate," said Anacan.
"My parents have sacrificed a lot and I haven't had a social life for ages. But I love it."
Anacan trains between five and seven days a week. She also teaches, alongside her brother Angelo (23) and sister Erika (24). The sport has also taken a physical toll. Anacan lists knee, ankle and hip problems but the most serious was a recurring shoulder dislocation.
"It would dislocate in everyday life," said Anacan. "It popped out when I was sleeping".
The injury, which first occurred in 2013, threatened to end her career, before major surgery in 2017.
"I was crying at my rehab," recalled Anacan, as she willed her joint to recover. "'Come on you can do this, I need you to be strong'".
She managed to come back, and Ling devised a way to compensate for her relative lack of movement on that side.
Training for kata is intense, with strong discipline needed to master the sequences. There are, as Mr Miyagi might say, no shortcuts. But it's her passion; something she hopes will take her to Tokyo next year.
"Karate is not in [for] 2024 so this might be our only chance, unless they bid again," said Anacan.
To qualify Anacan needs to be the top-ranked female in Oceania (across the kumite and kata disciplines).
"I would really like to put New Zealand on the map," said Anacan. "To wear the [silver] fern would be a great honour, but not just to compete but also to get a medal, and we are doing our best to make that happen. As my Sensei says, 'I don't want you to just go; I want you to stand on the podium'."