Papua New Guinea
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Top female fighters stand out

The two-day Lae karate tournament attracted clubs from Lae as well as the remote Wau-Waria and Bulolo districts.

The first day of competition saw girls and women try out what they had learnt sofar in their respective clubs or dojos.

Skills and techniques were demonstrated in the age categories of under 14-15 and under 16-17, and the women’s category of 50kg and 55kg.

Assistant trainer, or sempai, Bernard Maii, from Lae’s 3-Mile Shito-ryu Karate Club, expressed satisfaction at the level of fighting displayed by their three senior and four junior female fighters.

The three senior fighters are also in Team PNG and will be competing in the 17th Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands later this year. 

“I was not expecting such a performance,” he said. “That was real standard fighting.”

One of his outstanding fighters was 17-year-old Lean Lengleng, who fought in the under 17 and under 55kg category.

“She’s a good student. She started training in 2017, when she was only 12 years old,” he revealed.

“She played in the age division coming up and after COVID-19, she participated in the national championships in Port Moresby this year. She fought four times only so she’s a junior student. She falls under the ‘cadet’ group.”

Sempai Maii said from the fight, he has identified that they will need to work on one of the three mains sections of karate, which is kumite, or grappling hands. The other two are kata and kihon.

“One of the areas to improve on is speed,” he stated. “Karate-kumite is all about speed. If you are fast, the higher your chances of winning will be. If you are slow, the fastest adversary will beat you.

“We need to work on speed and blocks. If your block is effective, your opponent will not be able to score against you.”

Lengleng, who is from East New Britain and Simbu, is currently doing Grade 10 at Bugandi Secondary School. She started her training when she was 12 years old as the neighbourhood she grew up in was notorious for petty crimes and violence.

While she did well in her first four fights in the under 17 division, a cramped muscle costed her the top spot in the under 55kg fight.

“I need to train more,” she said. “At this young age, I still have a lot to learn. I will do my best and learn as much as I can, and come back stronger next time.”