Kokoro Kai Goju dojos strike at karate nationals

The Bega Valley’s three Kokoro Kai Goju Karate dojos are continuing to produce champions. 

Seven students from the dojos have qualified for the National All Style Karate Championships to be held in Queensland in November – where they will represent the ACT.

Haley Graham, Tamerah Boffa, Alicia Gauld, Rhythm Marshall, Mikayla Boffa, Ryan Marsh and Lachlan Charlton-Seaman will all compete at the national tournament. 

The group competed recently at the NAS State championships at the Australian Institute of Sport, bringing home 18 gold medals and a further six silver in a standout display to claim a lion’s share of the places in the state team. 

Fifth Dan instructor Rob Graham, who has previously coached the Canberra outfit said it was the first time in about a decade that students from the local dojos would get to compete at a national level. 

The students all took part in point-sparring, continuous sparring and forms (kata) events with excellent success. 

The co-founder of the style, Graham said he was incredibly proud of all students in his dojo from this group down to everyone who doesn’t compete. 

At the tournaments he likes to be ring-side to help call the shots for his students, but seeing them do so well can be an emotional experience. 

“You see them do so well and you almost get teary because you’re just proud of them,” he said. “It’s nice [to be ringside] because they know we are there and will always be there for them.”

Graham said he had no expectations on his students of winning and that key for him was helping people get through the nerves of competing – a win in itself. 

“For us, it’s about competing, as a student you go through the nerves and the jitters and I’ll go through it with them, but they go out and do their best and then it’s all win. Whether you finish 25th or first, you’ll feel the same.”

However, he said the country was producing some phenomenal performers across an array of sports. 

“We live in these regional areas, but you’ve got great coaches like Ray Ryan in boxing and those in the footy and cricket and tennis; we’re producing champions,” Graham said. 

He said excellence in sport was helping bridge divides between the country and metro areas. 

“Us country folk, people in the city used to call us hicks, but they don’t anymore.”

Graham’s own daughter Haley is one of those who will compete and is the only student with previous nationals experience after she was part of the team in 2008 and 2009. 

“She’s a great asset, she can get in their heads as a fellow student and tell them exactly how it’s going to be,” Graham said. 

“It’s a big event, with about 5000 people in the stands.”