WIN: Lismore’s Jakirra Graham wins International Karate Competition in Japan.
WIN: Lismore’s Jakirra Graham wins International Karate Competition in Japan. Sophie Moeller

Karate kid wins in Japan

SEEMS we are breeding world champions in South Lismore and, one in particular, is hoping she’ll make it to the Olympics in Japan in 2020.

Rising karate star, Jakirra Graham, 16, has just returned from the Martial Arts Champions Tournament in Japan where she came first for her division in the points sparring division.

She also came fourth in the full contact open division in which she was competing with adults.

Jakirra began training at The Success Martial Arts Black Belt Academy two years ago and now trains four times a week, not including gym sessions and she “absolutely loves it.”

She took part in the competition in Japan as part of the Australian Karate Federation’s talent identification squad, which gave her the opportunity to train and compete with other world champions.

“It was tough and the Japanese spoke no English,” said Jakirra.

“You have to be very strong as you are taking full on punches to the body. You take it to the limit,” she said.

While she had blood on her gi from the opponent’s fists hitting her breast plate, Jakirra said she remained unhurt having been trained to “ deflect and block and move on.”

Her coach and founder of the SMA academy, Richard Marlin said the thing about Jakirra is: “whether she wins or loses she is emotionally balanced, and that is good.”

Mr Marlin moved to Lismore 38 years ago and soon after set up the gym in South Lismore.

He says he has seen thousands of kids come through his academy, including international champs like Todd Usher, Dean Marshall and Matthew Walker. Jakirra now wants to follow in the kicks of her role model, Christina Mah, who is the first female world champion this country has produced.

Mr Marlin says an Olympic bid in 2020 is achievable for Jakirra if she remains focused.

“She has the ability and her parents are behind her and four years is a good time frame for her to become sharper and faster, “ said Mr Marlin.

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