Wednesday 22nd June, 2005

 

Strong in more ways than one

 
 
 
 
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Brendon Strong

BY NICHOLAS CLARKE

For Brendon Strong, karate is not just a mere hobby. It is a way of life. The 21-year-old, who recently won a silver medal in kumite at the Pan American Senior Championships in Argentina, believes that the values picked up in karate can be put to use in all walks of life.

“If you follow the simple guidelines of karate,” he explains, “it will set you for life.”

Strong, a resident of Maloney, began training in karate at 14 as a means of curbing his youthful aggression. He was turned on to it by a friend.

“From a young age, I was always wild,” he recalls with a grin, “I saw karate as a way to channel that wildness and make a more disciplined person out of myself.”

And so it has. When speaking to Strong, with his cheerful demeanor and calm tone of voice, it becomes difficult to imagine that he may be involved in anything containing jabs or reverse punches.

Strong gained his first tournament experience at the T&T Associated Schools of Karate (TTASK) Invitational in 1997. Despite suffering a painful kick to the stomach, which he admits he “wasn’t physically ready for,” he did well enough to earn a second place medal.

Success followed and within two years he was being honoured with a T&T Karate Union(TTKU) National Award for most outstanding junior karateka, which to this day, he credits with setting him on the path to greater success.

“At that point I realised that if I had reached that level after such little training that I would really succeed if I kept at it.”

During the next six years, Strong went on to become one of the most accomplished karatekas in the country. To date he has collected a gold, silver and bronze medal at Pan American Championships, 10 gold and three silver medals in TTKU National Championships, two gold medals in TTASK Championships, and two silver and a bronze medal in the Curacao Cup.

He has also been nominated for the prestigious WITCO Sportsman of the Year Award in 2002 and 2003.

“It gives you prolonged happiness,” he says on his success, “but I try not to let it go to my head. I have the same morals and values as anyone else. I just try to walk a straight path.”

Strong regards his Pan American junior gold in 2001 for Kumite at home in the Jean Pierre Complex as his greatest achievement. After undertaking much intense preparation, victory in that regional tournament was the most overwhelming experience in his life.

“The months upon months of hard work had paid off,” he remembers. “I let loose and broke down.”

Strong trains at the Maloney YTEPP Centre under his trusted sensei Anthony Peters. Peters also doubles as a life mentor who Strong credits with teaching him “how to handle myself as an individual”. He is also “kept sharp” by the closely knit community of people with whom he trains.

Strong compares the demands of karate to those of his coast guard duties for their requirements in discipline and quick thinking; tasks that he takes on with a content assurance in his ability.

“The number one rule in karate is that speed defines the winner. Within the first 30 seconds you have to asses whether your opponent is offensive, defensive or a counter-fighter.”

Another prominent figure in Strong’s life has been his mother, who raised him and his three brothers as a single parent — a task which, as Strong points out, “is not the easiest thing in the world.”

One of the downsides of being a top-ranked athlete in any combative sport is that people target you to prove themselves. Strong’s case is no different.

“I’ve gotten a lot of challenges for street fights,” he laughs, “People want to make bets with me. But I say, if you want to fight me do it in a structured way.”

It becomes a more difficult distraction as he grows in experience.

“With every tournament I win, the wagers go up.” he sighed. “But I’ve never gotten into a serious fight. Maybe, just at primary school.”

 

 

 

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