Sensei Peter Harth and his star student Jarryd Lebeter.
Sensei Peter Harth and his star student Jarryd Lebeter.

Karate kid has his eyes set on 2020 Olympics

ON TOP of plans for schoolies on the Gold Coast and final exams, Jarryd Lebeter is strapping on his black belt and earning his chops as Rockhampton PCYC's own Karate Kid.

The 17-year-old has been the national champion of the karate style, kata, for the last three years and isn't stopping there.

”From being able to achieve the goals in karate it's also helped me achieve goals outside of karate like in school,” Jarryd said.

The confident and talented 2nd Dan black belt is a favourite amongst the many young students he instructs at the Rockhampton dojo alongside Sensei Peter Harth and Sensei off-sider Brad Watson.

An A-student and sporting star, the young athletic prodigy won gold in his kata and kumite divisions at the CQ titles at Moranbah last weekend and even beat the Moranbah Sensei.

"It was awesome,” laughs Jarryd.

"I was a little bit nervous, but I felt confident as soon as I got in there and I just basically did everything that I've trained and got the result I wanted.

"You've got to kind of read what they're going to do and know what they're going to do before they do it and take advantage of that. You find something in everyone and you work with that.”

However, Jarryd wasn't always so confident within himself.

During primary school he was bullied and struggled with being very shy and withdrawn, however, as soon as he joined the dojo at 10-years-of-age, he suddenly flourished.

"It's not so much the fact that I would be able to defend myself or anything, it's having the confidence to stand up for myself.”

It takes a lot of work to be one of the best karate athletes in the country, but Jarryd is committed to working consistently on the "details of all the movements, and fighting techniques”, as well as his fitness.

He trains twice a week, and hopes, like many other aspiring karate legends, to make it to the 2020 Olympics.

He credits Sensei Brad Watson for pushing him to work as hard as he can, who says he says watched Jarryd grow in leaps and bounds particularly in the last year.

"He's sort of just at that stage where he's maturing into a young man and his maturity is coming into everything he does; into his karate, his competitions, just in his way of life all together,” Sensei Watson said.

"The results have shown in his kata because he very rarely loses anything ... It's due to his training. He trains hard, he listens. He's not a smart aleck. He's happy to learn. He's happy to take advice. He's a pleasure to train. He's one of our guys that's actually easy to train because of his commitment and his motivation.”

What makes Jarryd stand out is his "1,000 percent” dedication to training, how "he shows respect to everyone”, and his perfectionism which comes through when teaching the younger juniors.

"That makes you double check everything you're doing yourself. When you're teaching, you've got to know you're teaching it right.”

Sensei Watson travelled to Jakarta last year as the kumite free-fighting coach for the team.

They dedicated two years before the world titles to concentrating on training camps and seminars to get the students prepared for the kata and kumite divisions at the event.

The extensive and intricate amount of work that goes into the styles can only be described as an art form.

”The set forms are like a fight made into a dance,” Sensei Watson said.

”In kata, which is like our set forms that we do, you're up against the best in the world and it can be as little as the angle of your elbow or your little finger maybe poking out. That can be the difference between winning and losing.”

Jarryd took home three gold medals from the national titles in Sydney last month, and a gold and silver medal from the state titles which were held in Rockhampton earlier this year.

Last year, the karate kid went international, and represented his Australian team in the world titles in Jakarta.

The PCYC dojo is a not-for-profit organisation, that funds its star pupil through the sponsorship of his father, Darren Lebeter's, building and supply connections.

Young Jarryd will continue competing in state and national competitions after graduation and hopes to make it back on to the Australian team for the 2019 world championships.

He will also be completing an apprenticeship at Groom barbershop, and hopes to one day own his own dojo.

"I'll probably do karate for the rest of my life.”



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