Local 8-year-old takes home gold at the National Karate Championship

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – This past weekend, July 13-15, over 1,600 athletes competed at the 2018 USA Karate National Championships at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The events were hosted by the USA National Karate-Do Federation (USA NKF), which is the National Governing Body and sole member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. USA NKF is also affiliated with the World Karate Federation (WKF) and is a member of International Olympic Committee.

Grace Seltzer, age 8, who trains at the Japan Karate-Do Organization Karate School in Carlsbad, captured a gold medal in the Black belt division in this year’s National event. Grace has been training at Carlsbad JKO (the World Headquarters of Japan Karate-Do) since September of 2014.

Prior to this year, Grace has emerged consistently as the top competitor her division at various local tournaments throughout Southern California, including the International Goodwill Karate-Do Championships, Fiesta Tournament, Nikkei Games, and the annual JKO National Shito-Ryu Championships.

In 2016, she won the USA Open and the Jr. International Cup, and went on to win gold at the National Championships in Pittsburgh, PA, where she competed in the Intermediate division of her age group.

This year, Grace earned her green belt with white stripe at JKO Carlsbad. Grace was expecting to compete in the intermediate division at Nationals, since her experience at the national level is still less than three years. 

However, the National Karate Federation (NKF) registration officials decided that she would compete in the Black Belt division. Grace was concerned and nervous about the unexpected shift, but Hanshi M. Miki, her instructor, assured her that this was an excellent opportunity to challenge herself.

She had, after all, been working on advanced level for several months. Grace rose to the challenge. JKO Carlsbad is proud to announce that on Friday, July 13, Grace became a 2018 National Black belt Kata Champion at the USA NKF National Karate-Do Championships Tournament.

Grace walked into Carlsbad JKO Karate School in September of 2014. She was 4 years old, about to turn five, and had just started attending school for three hours per day.

She liked the obstacle courses that the students got to do as part of warmup, and she liked being around the older students (most in middle school and high school) who graciously led her around and showed her the basics.

Hanshi noticed Grace’s responsiveness to instruction as well as her work ethic and encouraged her by teaching her a variety of new and advanced level katas and encouraging the older students to work with her.

Grace attributes her learning to regular practice with Hanshi Miki’s encouragement, and to his attention to every detail of proper form. As Grace explains, “The most important part about karate is committing to what you are doing. When someone corrects you, do not be sad. You should be happy to get that correction, because they are helping you.”

Grace is in excellent company. Other winners of this year’s tournament include: Lily Rashidi, age 6, earned a gold medal in her division, in her first-ever National Championship. Jace Barron, age 10, also in his first National Championship, earned silver and bronze medals in his division.

JKO students and parents are quick to explain that the benefits of studying karate go far beyond acquiring medals, and include: the development of strength, honing of discipline, having fun, connecting to a close-knit community, and an enhanced ability to focus in order to set and reach goals.

Still, its always fun to win medals, and this week Hanshi proudly invites his winners to show off their new hardware so they can be encouraged and celebrated among the school’s long line of winning athletes. For the first time in Olympic history, Karate is set for inclusion in the 2020 games, something that Hanshi and his athletes are very excited about.



Categories: Local San Diego News, Sports