“No war will stop me,” says Salt Rock karateka Tai Smith


A 12-year-old boy from Salt Rock has been named captain of the South African junior team to compete in the GTF Taekwon-Do World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Tai Kingsley Smith and his team will fly Saturday for the championships starting next Wednesday.

“We are now down to six members, and even though one of them is worried about the war situation, I am not letting fear stop me from going to the championships. I have waited too long for this opportunity .

“Covid has suspended the championships for almost two years and no war or anything will stop me from going,” Tai said.

He is trained by master Vladimir Grachev and has been practicing Taekwon-Do for eight years.

Tai earned his 1st Dan black belt at the age of 10 and is now aiming for his second Dan.

Limited lately to competitions in cities across the country, he now relishes the opportunity to prove his mettle at international level.

“I’m very excited about the upcoming fights, but not so much about the steals. I really don’t like flying, especially the landing part, and we’re going to be flying for two days. When I’m on a plane someone else is in control, but when I’m fighting I know I’m in control.

The Ashton International College student trains five days a week, often waking up at 4.30am to practice before school.

His mother, Viki van den Barselaar-Smith, said that since finding his passion for Taekwon-Do, he hasn’t let go of his commitment to the sport.

“We are very proud of his dedication and incredibly excited that his love of sport has now opened up the world to him. I cried when he was named team captain,” Viki said.


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