Karate teaches wisdom, strength, kindness
No matter how dubious your reason for taking up karate, the martial art will set you on the straight and narrow.
Melbourne-based kenpo karate judge Tony Angus knows this from experience.
"I had a girlfriend who cheated on me when I was 17 and I thought, 'I want to punch the guy's head in, but I better get a black belt first'.
"Sometimes the motive isn't that noble, but by the time I got the black belt I'd forgotten about him and taken on the ethos of the martial arts."
Angus was judging the Fabian Niwa kenpo karate tournament on Saturday held at the Plymouth Hotel.
More than 100 competitors from Australia and New Zealand took part in the event.
It included a forms section where competitors acted out the moves first in slow motion then quickly, and a sparring section.
The ethos Angus speaks of is that of wisdom, strength and kindness.
Kenpo karate was brutal, aggressive and confronting, but also about discipline, family, camaraderie, he said.
"It's a philosophy of respect until someone crosses the line and wants to hurt someone you love."
It wasn't just natural talent that judges looked to reward, he said.
"People with grit and determination and force of will.
"That's martial arts and we want to reward that attitude."
Finn Langman, 5, of New Plymouth is in his second term of kenpo karate.
Finn's mother Chelsea said karate taught self control and respect and that it wasn't just about winning.
She said Finn had previously done gymnastics and had been excited at the prospect of learning karate.
"I like doing the kicks," he said.
Matthew O'Connor, 12, of Auckland was four when he started kenpo, becoming the youngest black belt in New Zealand at age 8.
He won the forms division and placed third in self defence at the world championships in Las Vegas last year.
O'Connor demonstrated his favourite move, the "tornado kick", and said his idol was Bruce Lee.
Taranaki Daily News