Humbling international experience

Danél van Heerden (14, left) with the two trophies she recently won at the 2017 US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships. Her coach, Kanchu Alex Tebbutt (right) was proud of her achievement. Kas Pretorius (absent) also competed at the championships.

Tebbutt’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy was well represented at the 2017 US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships.

The club’s Danél van Heerden and Kas Pretorius were selected to compete at the championships which were recently held in Florida, in the United States of America.

Van Heerden placed first in continuous fighting and the creative weapons kata division, while Pretorius placed third in continuous fighting, point fighting and class sparring.

“I am very happy to have had two of my athletes compete at the championships,” said kanchu Alex Tebbutt, the owner of the Lambton-based academy.

“That on its own is a great achievement.”

Tebbutt said he is most humbled by the results both athletes produced.

“This was a big tournament with close to 4 000 athletes competing,” said Tebbutt.

“They performed exceptionally well, especially when one considers the magnitude of the competition.”


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Van Heerden was invited to compete at the night show on the Saturday evening of the event.

“I was teary-eyed when I heard the news of van Heerden being invited to the night show because only the best of the very best fighters at the tournament get invited to it,” said Tebbutt.

“She placed third in the musical weapons kata at the night show.”

Hard work is one of the factors that contributed towards her success.

“I trained very hard for the competition and it feels amazing to see all my hard work finally pay off,” said van Heerden.

“I must admit it was nerve-wrecking though. I had to calm myself down and remember that my dad (Jannie) taught me not to let the nerves get to me.

“Tebbutt helped me prepare well for the tournament and I am grateful for that.”

Tebbutt added that Germiston and South Africa can be proud of such big achievements.

“Pretorius’ opponents were really big and it takes a lot of guts to fight opponents that large.

“I am humbled and proud of both the athletes and their results.”

Van Heerden said she couldn’t have done it without the support she received.

“I appreciate the support I received from my family, friends, Tebbutt, the club senseis and every club member. It was encouraging to know that I had their support all the way,” said van Heerden.

“This is really a proud moment for me because just a few years ago I was on a white belt and today I have a brown belt and I am competing at international competitions.

“Overall, the tournament was interesting; I met different people and it was also exciting to see the different ways people fight.

“It was fun and well organised.”

The youngster shared a few of her tips on succeeding at competitions.

“When you step onto the mat to compete, you must put aside all emotions and remember what you were taught,” said van Heerden.

“When you are in complete fight mode, nothing else matters but winning.

“Lastly, never give up or lose hope because if you work hard, and focus on what you love, then you will achieve great things.”


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Puleng Sekabate
Sports journalist

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