A legacy of breeding int’l karate champions

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SWEEPING five gold medals, two silvers and two bronzes in the just-concluded 15th Malaysian Milo Karatedo Open Championships at the Cheras Indoor Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia continued Association for the Advancement of Karatedo-Davao’s tradition of producing international champions who make the country proud.


The likes of Gabriel Quinones of Brokenshire Science High School (cadet boys -57 kgs. kumite gold, individual kata silver) and Carmela Marie Estarija of Stella Maris Academy of Davao (cadet girls individual kata gold) who joined with Julian Ambrose Ramirez (boys 12-13 kumite bronze) of Precious International School of Davao for the mixed kata gold; Pavel Jervis Bacayo (juniors below 76 kumite gold) and Josh Worsley of St. Paul (boys 6-7 kumite gold) who made their mark in the Kuala Lumpur joust add to the growing list of AAK-Davao’s aces. Promising player John Paul Ponce of PISD also chipped in a boys 8-9 kumite silver and bronze kata in the same tournament.


Quinones, 15, said, “AAK Davao helped me in many ways to make me become who I am now. Our training helps me become more active, responsible, confident, fit and teaches me how to teach and handle with children. The times being scolded help me realize my mistakes to make myself more disciplined and more aware of my doings.”


He recalled receiving the best male performer 23 years old and below award in the recently-concluded meet in Malaysia for bagging two golds and one silver among many athletes from other countries as his most unforgettable experience, adding: “I didn’t really expect to get this award but it sure did make my family, relatives friends, team and my coach proud.”


Estarija, however, shared that losing in a local competition with her friends and family watching was unforgettable for her. “Losing isn’t fun especially when you’re around everyone close to you. It gives you valuable lessons but it’s a horrible feeling. I felt tears in my eyes. Because this is was very hard to deal with, its impossible to forget. But the loss motivated me to be better. It’s actually a blessing in disguise and because of it, i bounced back with two gold medals in an international competition.”


AAK Davao, Estarija said, taught her life lessons like discipline, obedience and teamwork. “The victory of a teammate is also my victory and I treat the loss of a teammate as my loss also. Karate in AAK Davao has been a big part of my life, its not just about punching and kicking, but its camaraderie with teammates, discipline and a whole lot of fun.”


AAK Davao started on April 25, 2002 when Manuel Pocholo Veguillas appointed Rommel Tan as branch chief with Dodong Bacalla as his assistant instructor.


Tan said AAK Davao started with Blue Knights Karatedo Team of Ateneo de Davao University and the Holy Cross of Davao College karatedo team, around 15 players. It has grown to 80 to 100 active and inactive players since the grassroots program started in 2007 at the Assumption College of Davao.


Prettie Joy Goc-ong was the first gold medalist AAK Davao produced. She topped the women’s openweight kumite in the first Sportsmaster Karatedo Open Championship in Singapore in September 2008 then Jhon Albert Albarico won the kata and kumite golds in the 29TH Gojukai Asia Pacific Karatedo Open Championships in Singapore and snatched a kumite gold in the 30th edition where Estarija also won a gold in  2010.


Oona Ysabelle Barnes got a kumite gold in the 4th SMA Karate Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2011 while Arthur Chino Lao clinched a kata gold in the Adidas International Karate Cup at the SM Mall of Asia in 2012.


Tan said at least 25 AAK Davao karatekas have been to several international competitions and brought home golds, silvers and bronzes.


AAK Davao also hosts regional and national tournaments to hone skills of its players.


Parents of AAK Davao athletes often play a vital role in sending them to competitions abroad. Regular sponsors also make things possible for the team.


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