KARATE: Two Hervey Bay karate students have returned home after a Japanese experience of a lifetime.

Grace Harris and Henry Sabondo were invited to attend the annual Yokohama Invitational karate event after completing a gruelling qualifying process.

Both completed the four rounds of the Australian Martial Arts circuit to qualify for the National Championships.

From the National Championships they qualified for the Australian Championships.

After performing well in the Australian Championships they both received invitations to Yokohama.

Both students attend Bayside Martial Arts under the instruction of Sensei Amanda a seven time world champion.

The club was awarded the Queensland Martial Arts Club of the Year recently at the national championships.

Sensei Amanda was proud of the club and the student’s success.

“It is a huge achievement and wraps the year up,” she said.

Grace and Henry were among 150 students of all ages at the Yokohama event.

They were judged on two aspects of karate, points sparring and kata ( Form of pattern of their techniques).

For both the event was a success with Grace receiving a first place in points sparring and second place in kata.

Henry finished third in both disciplines.

Grace is currently a blue belt with one tip while Henry is a brown belt with two tips.

For Grace the trip was an unforgeable experience.

“The dojo was a lot smaller than ours here in Hervey Bay,” she said.

“I really enjoyed it.”

Grace believes karate and the trip have made her more confident in everything she does.

Chris, the dad of Grace was high in his praise of Bayside Martial Arts.

“It is such a great club, with a great family environment,” he said.

Henry reflected on his trip and was impressed by the standards of the karate students he met in Yokohama.

“I saw the high standard that Japanese students are and it pushed me to work harder,” he said.

Henry started as a reluctant karate student after his parents made him take the sport up but has now changed his view.

“My parents made me do it at first but now I just love it,” he said.

“My skills are improving but more importantly my discipline, thanks to karate.”

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