Karate has been enjoying a rise in popularity in recent years, so much so that it managed to find its way to the summer Olympics of Tokyo 2020. And how could it not, when it teaches its athletes important life values such as respect, discipline, and compassion.
A good example of this are brothers James and Luke Georgiou, who at just 11 and 10 years old respectively are already star pupils of their dojo (a space for immersive learning) and are winning medals by the dozens, yet remain grounded and focused on their next objectives.
As their father, George Georgiou explains to Neos Kosmos, the two kids took an immediate liking to the sport:
“We thought as parents, they should try everything. And they took to it, they loved it.
“Thankfully, their sensei (teacher) is the sensei of the Australian karate national team.
“We didn’t know that at the time, but we didn’t necessarily take them to do karate so they can compete.
“We just did it so they can build their self-confidence, so they can learn self-defence, discipline and they can learn to look after themselves.
“And they took it to another level themselves.”
Mr Georgiou goes on to explain the added benefits that engaging in the sport has offered his two kids:
“Through karate, they developed other skills,” he says. “James is quite the accomplished swimmer. Competing through school he made it to the regionals. But, while he’s good at other sports, karate is always the number one priority.”
Their most recent accomplishment was winning a gold medal each at the regional Pacific Cup championships in New Caledonia.
But this was just one of many, with James having also won Bronze medals in the Oceania championship, the Australian Open and the Australasian School Age championship, while Luke has brought home the gold at the Australasian School Age Championship, the Australian open and the Melbourne open.
Both boys are also members of the Australian youth karate national team. But their ambitions do not stop there.
“My dream, as a father, is to see them compete in Greece some day, since Europeans are up to another level,” says Mr Georgiou. “But that’s more just to say that we’ve done it for their ancestors and where they’re from, and so forth.”
One of their short-term goals is to represent Australia at the youth training camp in July in Croatia, while their ultimate target is to participate in one of the next Olympic Games taking place in either 2024 or 2028.
Despite all their success, there’s no denying their training has given them the right mindset, which goes beyond their own achievements to helping others do their best.
“They enjoy training and mentoring younger kids that are coming through,” says Mr Georgiou.
“They’re both part of the leadership squad at their dojo which had their annual competition day last Sunday (2 December). It was only for fun, just for the younger kids who have never competed before within our own club.
“An 11 and a 10-year-old were coaching kids their age, and younger, about the moves and what to do, etc. So it was pretty good, as a father, to be looking on and seeing them giving back something.”
However things play out in the future, and no matter where their adventure with karate takes the two boys, one thing is for certain; it has provided them with some lessons that will prove invaluable for the rest of their lives.