by Dane Lillingstone
KARATE: They may be high schoolers just trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, but they're not ordinary teenagers.
Five Whitsunday karate students are about to head to Osaka, Japan where they will compete against some of the best martial artists in the world.
The spiritual home of karate will host the 22nd All Japan Kyokushin Championships on June 24 and Whitsunday students Sebastian Heatley, Jacob Farrell, Jack Wilson, Imogen Tulk and Ryan Stephens will be there.
The full contact championship tournament required competitors to qualify by competing in local competitions with strong placings.
Cannonvale Dojo sensei Belinda Woodham said the students wouldn't just be representing the Whitsundays, they would be representing Australia.
"To me it's like you're going against the best in the world.," she said.
"The Japanese are known to be the best. To go to that league it will be something they have never ever experienced before.
"They are the best full contact fighters in Japan."
However Woodham said she was confident that students from both the Proserpine and Cannonvale Dojos would be ready for the challenge.
"I see them at training all the time and they give a lot," she said.
"The training is tough. You have to have the right mental attitude to push through when the times are tough. It's not easy training (we do). The kids they are fighting live and breathe it."
Proserpine Dojo's Imogen Tulk, 14, began training four years ago.
"I am disciplined training up to five days per week, and have competed at a state and national level in preparation for the competition," she said.
"My brother did it before me for a couple of years.
"I was in a phase where I couldn't find a sport I really liked. I joined up and got into it a bit more and it helped out with issues at school a lot as well.
"I am a role model for other students and young women in the area demonstrating that karate not only is a male sport but is a great form of self-defence and that women can compete at an international level as well."
Proserpine's other competitor Jacob Farrell, 15, started five years ago and is now a 2nd Kyu Brown Belt, last year winning the Queensland Championships.
The five students will travel to Japan for a week where they will compete in the two day tournament as well as train at traditional dojos and take a trip to Universal Studios.