What got you into Karate?
I started participating in Karate because of being bullied at school. My parents thought it would help develop my character and improve my confidence levels to enable me to handle my problems at school. I initially began practicing Karate at just eight years old, earning my 1st Dan black-belt aged 11 and 2nd Dan black belt at aged 14.
What are the highlights of your career?
My current accolades are:
4 x WSKA World Shotokan Karate Association Medals
3 x ESKA European Shotokan Karate Association Medals
JKS World Shotoremnei Championships 2016, Bronze
BKF British Open Champion 2015
Ultimate Karate Champion 2017
JKS Continental Cup 2017 - Male Kata Silver
23 x Welsh Champion (KUGB/ WKGB)
2 x JKS English National Champion
60+ National Medals
I have been practicing Karate for 16 years, achieving many titles along the way.
Some have been very memorable;
WSKA World Shotokan Karate Association Medals
3 x ESKA European Shotokan Karate Association Medals
For those of you who don’t know, for 10 years I was part of the KUGB Wales Team, where I was selected to represent them at both the WSKA/ESKA Championships. In both the ESKA and WSKA Championships, I won medals in all age categories for individual events (Cadet/Junior/Senior categories). These events attracted some of the best Shotokan practitioners from around the World and competing at these events gave me the first taste of competing internationally.
My first major international championship was when I was selected to represent Wales at the WSKA Championships in Chicago Illinois (2011). At the time, I was 16 years old and entered the cadet category (16-17 years) and the junior age group (18-21 years). I reached the finals in both of my events. I won a silver medal in my cadet category, narrowly missing out on becoming champion. I took home a Silver and Bronze Medal from this Championship.
I was naturally disappointed that I didn't win but I feel this result has made me a better person. I took away many positives from this championship; having the attitude that if you train harder, the results would eventually come. Gaining a medal at my first International event, and medaling in the next age category above, is what have driven me forward.
In September 2013, I was then selected to represent Wales again at the WSKA Championships at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. This event saw almost 900 competitors from 28 different countries. I again faced a host of many top Shotokan competitors from around the World and came away with two medals going up against the likes of many athletes that are part of their WKF National Teams. I won a Silver Medal in the junior category and a Bronze in the senior, despite the fact that I hadn’t turned 21. I again narrowly missed out on a gold medal in the junior category.
British International Open Champion 2015
Of all my achievements, this is probably the most memorable. In 2015, I made the biggest decision of my career, and moved organisations from the KUGB to WKGB. Due to my success in a single style organisation I wanted to see how I’d cope in an ‘open-style'. This was a very difficult decision for me as I had a lot of success in my previous organisation and moving over gave me a brand new start. I naturally was concerned that I may not be as successful. For many years throughout my career many have told me that I have a natural WKF style, so I felt very eager to give the WKF a go. I took the attitude that I may not be as successful with my move, but I would be happy with competing and training amongst people which I have always looked up to and who have inspired me.
In less than 6 months of being With WKGB, the first competition I entered was the BKF Open Championship 2015, at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. This was my first BKF Open Championship since moving organisations, I wasn't expecting much of a result. But I became the BKF Open Senior Kata Champion. I hold this achievement very close to my heart. I felt that everything had paid off for me. It also showed me that I can be just as successful in this association. This achievement has pushed me to train harder and I am enjoying my Karate more than ever.
JKS World Shotoremnei Championships 2016
This was my first JKS international event representing JKS Wales. I performed Gojushiho Sho in the finals, placing 3rd behind Koji Arimoto (Japan) and Shohei Toyama (Japan) in Male Senior Kata.
23 x Welsh Champion
I have won 23 Welsh titles throughout WKGB and KUGB Welsh Championships.
What does your training consist of?
I train 6 days a week doing a minimum of 2 hours per day; Sunday is usually my rest day. Training 6 days a week can be quite a challenge, as I have to find time between balancing train with competing and work commitments. However I have always treated my training and competing as if I’m a full-time athlete. I have always made time for my Karate and have put it first. I fit all other commitments around it.
Due to competing at many high level and World events throughout the year, I feel it’s important for me to train as much as possible in order for me to compete at this level. Sunday is usually my rest day, but I still make sure I go to the gym and do some mobility exercises such as light stretching; I feel it’s better to do something as over time the body will adapt to the training it’s given. I have recently built my own dojo, to help me manage my training time much easier.
My training days incorporate a range of different training methods. E.g.
Monday- Kata Training & Basics
Tuesday- Weight Training (Upper)
Thursday- Weight Training (Lower)
Friday- Kata Training & Kumite
Sunday- Flexibility & Computerised performance analysis.
Who has been your role-model?
Throughout my career I have always looked up to Luca Valdesi, who is one of the all time best and most successful kata competitors. He has won multiple World and European titles. I have watched and studied him for many years and met him at the EKF Senior European Championships on May 3rd-8th in Montpelier where I represented Wales. After watching and studying him for many years, it was such a privilege to meet him in person. I have learnt so much throughout my career by studying many of the top athletes, picking bits from their katas and incorporating them into my own style. A lot of people say that YouTube is no good for aiding your Karate, but I feel that YouTube has made a huge impact on my style as I have analysed many athletes and applied and adapted their technique into my own Kata’s.
What is your favourite Kata?
My favourite kata's have changed over time. Gojushiho Sho was always my favourite kata up until the past 2 years. Now my favourite kata is Unsu, this has been due to me practicing more advanced kata's such as Unsu and Gankaku. These are kata's which I need to use at high end competitions due to the kata having a higher execution difficulty and risk.
Short/Long Term Goals?
Throughout my career I feel goal setting has been an important aspect for my success and development. It has kept me motivated by having something to aim for. I enjoy competing as much as possible. I take part in the Karate 1 events as this is what keeps me motivated to train and keep/improve my performance level. As soon as I have competed, I'm planning my next competition, as this is what keeps me motivated. Over the past 2 years, I have attended many WKF events over the World, trying to set myself an International every 2/3 months, as this gives me something to aim and work for. The next goal for me is to be selected for WKF Senior World and European Championships.
What is your brief opinion on “Sport” vs. “Tradition” that's talked so much about in the Karate world?
I do feel that it's important to keep a balance between sporting and traditional. I come from a traditional background and all moves should always relate back to the bunkai and application of the kata. Yes, within the WKF we do 'spice' our techniques up to make them more appealing for the audience. But, the actual execution and delivery of a technique should still always relate back to the application.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes?
If I had to give aspiring athletes some advice, I’d say to never give up on what you believe in. A quote that I have on my black belt is, ‘If you believe, you will achieve!’ This is what I have always thought throughout my career. Many people may tell you that you can’t achieve certain goals however there is a saying that goes ‘set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it, until you grow into the person who can’. A career is short, it’s important to take every opportunity that you can, and to never turn one down.
At the end of my career I want to be able to say that I have done everything that I have wanted to do and have taken every opportunity given to me, and have absolutely no regrets.
I'm really happy to be a part of the WSKO and I'm looking really forward to the many opportunities in the future.