Smith to showcase skills on world stage

Jo-Kai Smith
Jo-Kai Smith
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Jo-Kai Smith is aiming to pack a punch on the international fight scene.

The 12-year-old karate kid, from Wickham, has been selected to represent England at the prestigious Coupe Internationale de Kayl Championships in Luxembourg this weekend.

And Swanmore College pupil Smith – one of only two competitors in his age category from England – will also flex his muscles at the European Wado Kai Karate Championship in Budapest, Hungary a fortnight later.

For Smith’s father John, it is just reward for his son’s dedication to the sport.

He revealed: ‘Jo-Kai started karate at the age of six at a local club in Waltham Chase.

‘After a couple of weeks his teacher saw his potential and said he would achieve his black belt.

‘Jo-Kai stayed with the club for over five years and, in that time, achieved his brown and black belt.

‘He also had 11 competitive fights (kumite), of which he won 10 – and the one opponent he did lose to he defeated in his next fight!

‘But due to the limited opportunity to compete against a wider range of opponents, both in the UK and internationally, Jo-Kai felt that it was time to move clubs.’

Having received personal training for karate for two years, as well as his usual club sessions, it was trainer Rob Edwards who suggested Smith visit another organisation – England Wado-Kai (EWK) – which has clubs the length of the country.

In May, the pint-sized ninja visited the Crowthorne (Berkshire) club and felt his opportunity to learn to a higher standard was much improved.

He has since trained there with England Wado-Kai every Saturday and every Tuesday evening at Applemore (Dibden Purlieu).

Dad John added: ‘We were driving up to Crowthorne and Jo-Kai said: “Do you know what, this is just like going to Thorpe Park.

‘“When I go to Thorpe Park I always get excited and really look forward to it and when I go to karate on Saturday mornings I feel exactly the same”.

‘Travelling around putting the time in every week is not a chore and when Jo-Kai says things like that it makes it no effort at all.’