Ded­i­ca­tion wins the belt

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Mele Tu­li­akiono’s de­sire not to be bul­lied has seen her be­come one of the youngest black belts in New Zealand.

The 12-year-old, who at­tends Mid City Kyokushin Karate at Can­nons Creek Park, is mod­esty per­son­i­fied, but her per­for­mances on the mat lately have her peers and men­tors in awe.

She can’t stop grin­ning but hates the thought of ap­pear­ing ar­ro­gant.

‘‘ I was bul­lied at pri­mary school. Coming here [to be­gin karate lessons] was daunt­ing but it’s been great for me, es­pe­cially for my con­fi­dence.’’

Re­cently Tu­li­akiono en­dured six hours of writ­ten and phys­i­cal tests, sim­i­lar to what an adult would go through, to achieve her black belt.

She says she couldn’t eat any break­fast on the big day – she was so ner­vous.

In Novem­ber, Tu­li­akiono won her di­vi­sion at na­tion­als against a 14-year-old.

She at­tends classes twice a week but spends much more time at home, prac­tis­ing her kata – the de­tailed move­ments stu­dents are tested on.

‘‘I really want my sec­ond black belt, but I know it’s go­ing to take a while. I’m go­ing to work hard for it.’’

A keen hockey player and net­baller, Tu­li­akiono says karate has helped with her other sports be­cause of the dis­ci­pline, bal­ance and fit­ness re­quired.

Her abil­ity and ease with those younger than her has seen Tu­li­akiono urged to pass on what she has learnt. One of her in­struc­tors, Joanne Ross, says it some­thing Tu­li­akiono does con­fi­dently.

‘‘She’s great with the lit­tle ones, a won­der­ful role model be­cause they can see what’s pos­si­ble. What we see is that, along with her skills, her con­tri­bu­tion at Mid City grows as well.’’

Mid City Kyokushin Karate has more than 30 mem­bers aged from 7 to 30, with more al­ways wel­come.

Watch out: Mele Tu­li­akiono had what it takes to be awarded a black belt, her strong will and level of en­durance cop­ing with six hours of tough test­ing.

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