At 11, Phoenix Walker is already using karate as a vehicle to see the world.
The 5th grade student from St. Patrick’s School has been selected by WAKO Canada to represent his country at the 2022 World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) World Junior Karate Championships in Italy from September 30-9 october.
The world championship martial arts student will compete in forms, weapons and point combat.
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 due to COVID-19.
The farthest he has traveled for a competition is Niagara Falls, so it is a great pleasure for the youngster.
“It’s an adventure exploring the world, so it makes me happy because I’m a nature guy,” he said.
When asked what he knows about Italy, Phoenix replied, “It’s beautiful. There are trees. It’s colorful. You travel by boat to get home and I know pizza.
He was introduced to martial arts at a WCMA summer camp when he was seven years old and loved it.
“I like how we do jumps and spinning kicks in the air, flying tricks, punches, combinations, kata,” he said.
He also enjoys the self-defense aspect of training.
“If someone wanted to get their hands on 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 level is quite high, so it’s been a fantastic outlet for him to channel that little kid energy that he has,” Jamie said.
That energy is one of his strengths as a competitor, says his coach and WCMA co-owner Jason Mancini.
“Phoenix is a very energetic young man,” Mancini said.
“He vibrates with energy on a regular basis. When he gets the opportunity to perform, he’s able to harness it in a way that he can present it on another level.” Another thing that makes Phoenix unique here at WCMA n It is not only that he is the youngest to participate in this competition, but he does it specifically for the discipline of karate.
“In the past we had young students there, but more for kickboxing or sort of fighting, combative competition. He goes there to do semi-contact fighting, to use his weapon and to do performance martial arts.
Mancini said it all starts at home.
“He’s definitely a bit of 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 actually tries right next to him. They will be classified for their red belt on Saturday. I think his support systems were really beneficial to 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 high point. Most of his karate medals are gold.
“It’s such a milestone to reach this early stage in life,” Jamie Walker said.
“I am very excited for the competition. I’m happy to go,” said Phoenix.
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 her parents. He does not receive any financial assistance to cover his expenses.
A GoFundMe online campaign has been set up to try to raise $6,000 to cover airfare, accommodation, food, entrance fees and equipment for Phoenix and a parent who needs to attend in as a chaperone.
By Friday afternoon, 19 donors had raised $2,910 towards a goal of $6,000. Visit gofund.me/fe226d99 to donate.