Graeme pupil makes Karate history


At 17 years of age, a Grade 11 pupil at Graeme College, Brent Smith of East Cape Shotokan-Ryu made SECKO Championship history by becoming the youngest ever winner of the Men’s Open Black Belt Kata (forms) Category.

The 11th edition of the SECKO Karate Championships saw locally based East Cape Shotokan-Ryu (Grahamstown and Port Alfred) shared overall top honours with King Karate Club (King William’s Town), while the always competitive Joza Karate Club achieved third position overall.

The event was held at the Fish River Sun Hotel over the past weekend.

More than 350 karate athletes contested this year’s championship in categories ranging from novice to elite. Approximately 18 dojos representing the styles of Shotokan-Ryu, Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu contested this year.

Isa Ayob of Titan Karate Club (Port Elizabeth) finished second behind Smith in the competitive Men’s Open event. Lutho Singata of Rhodes University Shotokan Karate Club clinched victory against some strong opposition in the Mens Open Black Belt Kumite (fighting) Category. Thanduxolo Royi of Joza Karate Club (Grahamstown) put up a spirited fight to take the silver medal. SECKO Organiser and ECSR Head Instructor, Gary Grapentin was exceptionally proud of Men’s Open Winners’ Smith and Sinagta, both of whom he coaches.

Kayleigh Chamberlain of Western Suburbs Karate Club (Port Elizabeth) successfully defended her 2016 SECKO Kumite title by winning the Senior Ladies Open Black Belt Kumite Category for the second year in succession. In second place was Tanya De Villiers (also of Port Elizabeth). De Villiers trains at both PE North Karate Club and Kase Ha Karate Club. Ilze Van Der Merwe of Helderberg Dojo in Somerset West won both the Veteran and Ladies Open Black Belt Kata Categories with Chamberlain claiming the silver medal. Van Der Merwe had made the trip to the SECKO Karate Championships as part of her preparation for the WUKF World Championships which will take place in Scotland next year.

According to Grapentin, the categories were extremely competitive with a number of exceptional athletes in the elite categories.  For karate in Grahamstown, Fort Beaufort, Alicedale, Kenton on Sea or Port Alfred, Grapentin may be contacted at

Brent Smith won the Mens Open Kata at the weekend’s Secko champs at Fish River Sun Hotel. Photo: Supplied

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