Wānaka samurai karate kids win big

Photo caption: Gold winners in the West Otago MultiStyle Karate Tournament (from left to right) Kimiya Byrne, Ryan Enoka and Cory Enoka. Credit: Wayne and Mandy Enoka

The newly reformed Wānaka Samurai Karate Club had a fantastic day at the West Otago MultiStyle Karate Tournament in Tapanui on Saturday. The small group brought home an impressive haul of five gold medals between three competitors.

Cory Enoka, in his first-ever tournament, won a gold medal in the 10-11 years development kumite (fighting). Kimiya Byrne, also competing for the first time brought home golds for both 14-16 years development kata (performance of technique) and kumite. Ryan Enoka, competed in the 12-13 years premier grade and won golds in both premier kata and kumite.

“Tapanui is a great opportunity to compete before going to other regional and national championships later this year,” Enoka said.  

He has been learning karate since he was five years old, trains in both Wānaka and Queenstown and takes part in regular Otago Southland training sessions in Cromwell and Dunedin.

The Wānaka team competed as part of a larger group of students from Central Otago led by competition coach and Wānaka samurai karate Sensei Gabriela Schmidt-Morrell.  

Schmidt-Morrell said she was proud of her students.

“I’ll now focus on training for the Otago/Southland championships at Queens Birthday weekend in Dunedin,” she said.

Following the death of Sensei Chris McGreggor, the Wānaka dojo (training place) was closed, and students have been travelling to Queenstown and Cromwell for training. Schmidt-Morrell saw the need in Wānaka and opened the Wānaka Samurai Karate Club. 

Samurai NZ is a member of Karate NZ and gives students martial arts skills they can take it into competition karate. Senior students help with the training, performing the sempai roles for Schmidt-Morrell.

Students train on Tuesdays from 4.50 pm - 5.30 (juniors) and 5.00 pm-6.30 pm (seniors and adults) at the Wānaka Primary School Hall. The club welcomes new members. 

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