At 11, Phoenix Walker is already using karate as a vehicle to see the world.
The 5th grade student at St. Patrick School has been selected by WAKO Canada to represent his country at the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) World Junior Karate Championships 2022, September 30-October 9 in Italy.
The World Martial Arts Championships student will compete in forms, weapons and point sparring.
He qualified for the event at a WAKO Canada training camp in Burlington last month. Walker also qualified for the Ontario Winter Games in Pembroke in karate and kickboxing, but the event was canceled by COVID-19.
The furthest he has traveled for a competition was Niagara Falls, so this is a big treat for the youngster.
“It’s an adventure exploring the world, so it makes me happy because I’m an outdoorsman,” he said.
When asked what he knows about Italy, Phoenix replied, “It’s beautiful. there are trees It is colorful. You take boats to your house and I know my way around pizza.”
He was introduced to martial arts at a WCMA summer camp at the age of seven and loved it.
“I like how we do jumps and spinning kicks in the air, flying tricks, punches, combinations, kata,” he said.
He also likes the self-defense aspect of the training.
“If someone tried to touch me, I wanted to be able to defend myself,” Walker said.
Karate helped Phoenix channel his energy, say his parents, Cynthia Grant and Jamie Walker.
“His energy levels are pretty high so it was a fantastic outlet for him to channel his little kid energy,” Jamie said.
That energy is one of his strengths as a competitor, says his trainer and WCMA co-owner Jason Mancini.
“Phoenix is a very energetic young man,” Mancini said.
“He regularly vibrates with energy. If he gets the opportunity to perform, he can use it in a way that allows him to present it on another level. “Another thing that makes Phoenix unique to WCMA here is that not only is he the youngest to go to this competition, he’s doing it specifically for the discipline of karate.
“In the past we’ve had young students go there, but more for kickboxing or fighting, competitive competitions. He goes there to engage in semi-contact combat, use his gun, and practice martial arts.”
Mancini said it all starts at home.
“He’s certainly an exceptional athlete for someone his age, but he’s been training for a long time,” Mancini said.
“He has a very good support system in his mother and father. His dad is actually trying right next to him. They will be judged for their red belt on Saturday. I think his support systems have really helped his development.”
Phoenix, who also competes in muay thai kickboxing, has won a dozen medals of all colors in various tournaments over the years, but this is definitely the highlight. Most of his karate medals are gold.
“It’s such a milestone to be so early in life,” said Jamie Walker.
“I am really looking forward to the competition. I’m glad I’m going,” Phoenix said.
Phoenix also plays soccer and is a member of the Eco Club and Lego Club at school. He loves animals and is a big fan of Bruce Lee and Godzilla.
It’s an expensive trip for Phoenix and his parents. He receives no financial support to cover his expenses.
A GoFundMe online campaign was launched to try and raise $6,000 to cover airfare, lodging, meals, entrance fees and equipment for Phoenix and one accompanying parent who must attend.
As of Friday afternoon, 19 donors had raised $2,910 towards a goal of $6,000. Visit gofund.me/fe226d99 Donate.