A BURGATE pupil has used lockdown to hone his karate skills.

Thomas Klemz, 12, began learning karate when he was five years old and now, seven years later, he holds many national, international and world titles in the kata discipline.

Because of the pandemic, opportunities to travel and compete both domestically and abroad have been on hold, so the World Karate Organisation has been running karate competitions online. This involves Tom recording his katas on video and sending them to referees all over the world so they can judge his performances.

When his Dad was diagnosed with ME and had to stop working, things became even more challenging. This is when he and his brothers had the idea of building a karate dojo at the bottom of the garden in order to allow Tom to train hard and to be coached and compete online.

The competitions online are all ranked events, which means that each win is awarded points which contribute to a world ranking.

Tom has now won more than 70 matches, achieving 20 golds, eight silvers and 11 bronze medals and has competed against the best karate athletes around the world between the ages of 12 and 16.

The judges have consistently marked him among the best. As a result, Tom is now ranked number two in the world at under-13 level.

Having these events online has meant that travel costs have not come into the equation.

In fact, many more karate athletes around the world have been able to participate without wealth discrimination.

Salisbury Journal: ThomasThomas

Thomas has now entered more than 20 worldwide E-competitions run via Sports Data data since August and the combined cost has been far less than travelling to one competition abroad.

Tom started his karate journey with sensei Shaun Lanham, sixth Dan and Team GB coach at Inner Strength Martial Arts Academy and he is now a member of Seikatsu Kai Karate Association under Sensei Jonathan Mottram sixth Dan who is Britain’s most successful kata competitor and coach.

He is a three-time Commonwealth champion and has competed in more than 30 European and world championships.

Sensei Jonathan Mottram said: “I am very proud of Tom’s dedication to karate and I am pleased he has fantastic parents who support him. With Tom’s success, he remains humble and I believe he has a huge future ahead of him.”

Tom says he will continue to stay positive through the pandemic, compete online and prepare himself for when live competitions start again.

Depending on sponsorship, this year the World Karate Championships is in Romania, and Tom hopes it will be safe to participate.

His hope is to fly the flag and represent his country at this event and to bring a world championship medal home.