She’s just 15 and on the brink of being a world beater.
Eden Holley, a Year 11 student at Otumoetai College, has returned from the World Shotokan Karate Federation 13th world championship in Tokyo where she won a bronze in the girls’ 15 years kata, beating a former world champion to get there.
“To be surrounded by people who share the same love and passion is incredible,” says Eden. “I am very pleased with the outcome. Proud moments, and I am so blessed to have had this opportunity.”
“Eden has been training for about six years and for her to medal at her first international is an extraordinary achievement,” says Eden’s teacher, or sensei, Rangi Smith, himself a 5th dan black belt with 37 years’ experience.
“Eden is a self-motivated perfectionist,” says Rangi.
Kata is a form of karate involving the execution of specified moves while attempting to maintain perfect form. And Eden also placed fourth in the kumite, or freestyle sparring.
Shotokan is the first karate style invented by Funakoshi – the man widely recognised as the father of modern karate.
“While Eden’s just getting going, she has enormous potential,” says Rangi. There are 110 countries in the World Shotokan Karate Federation – 35 of them were at the championships. “So it was an outstanding performance for someone so young.”
And the competition in Japan is intense, very intense. “You arrive a week early to acclimatise and train. Then there are three days of seminars, the technical stuff, for four to five hours a day. Before you even get started.”
There are only a few people with WSKF medals in New Zealand says Rangi, and Eden’s is certainly the first in the Bay of Plenty.
Another local karate student, Aiden Bishop, also performed with distinction in Japan. But he competed in a division loaded with world champions and didn’t manage to secure a placing.
Eden also successfully graded to her 1st dan international black belt, an exam held two days before competition began. The grading is an assessment of an overall personal standard of karate.
“A lot of training goes into preparing for the grading,” says Rangi.
The grading also comes with the honour of carrying the title sempai which places her as 2IC to sensei or teacher. In this case, Rangi.
Eden has also been invited to take part in an international team when the 14th WSKF world championships are held in 2019.