Hana’s karate quest is helped by expert

WAGGA junior karate star Hana Sawal’s meeting with Sensei Tesuguo Sakumoto could have been lifted from a Hollywood movie script.Technique tips and wise words from the true karate legend he gave nine-year-old Wagga prodigy the upper hand at the Sydney International Karate Championships at the weekend.Les than 24 hours before the talented youngster competed in the biggest competition of her blossoming career, Hana was receiving expert guidance from the triple world champion.Her father, Wagga karate instructor Sawal Salleh, said the experience had given Hana the competitive edge over her rivals at the competition. Hana came away from the competition with the title of Champion of the Kata event for nine years and under.“Hana was so happy to win, she was very excited, “Sensei Sawal said.“She was very lucky to participate in a seminar with a Japanese karate legend before she competed which really helped her.“Tesuguo Sakumoto is a three-time world champion who was born in 1947 but can still compete with the best.“He actually does the same form as Hana.“Anan is the form of patterns and movements that Tesguo is trained in and the same style that Hana is learning.“Spending time with him really improved her skills and she used it the next day and won.”Hana, who will soon vie for her junior black belt, was the only child to participate in the seminar with Sensei Sakumoto.The gifted junior was not the only Wagga Shinwa-Kai Karate Club member to experience success at the top international competition.The club returned to the city with four medals but, more importantly, Sensei Sawal said the tournament provided an invaluable experience to the team.“This is the first time they have competed in such a high-level international tournament,” he said.“I knew they were capable and had the ability compete, but they have all done even better than I expected.”There will be little rest for the Wagga team, with its heavy training load to continue in preparation for the Australian Open in April.

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