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Karate ace Booyens boosted after Japan experience

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Team South Africa’s African Games karate silver medallist Meghan Booyens recently returned from an invaluable coaching and training course in Japan.
Lea van der Merwe writes that the 4th Dan JKS Karate instructor and competitor in the kumite and kata division, says the trip was actually a detour, as she’d first intended competing at the Korean Open, which was unfortunately cancelled due to an outbreak of the MERS Virus. ‘I would either lose money cancelling the ticket or I could change it and go to Japan with my sensei’s during November,’ she said.
‘I had almost two weeks of training at our style headquarter dojo in Japan and it was a very big learning experience, not only on a technical level but mentally and physically as well.’
Travelling with the Teikyo University team, Booyens and her senseis also watched the All Japan University Championships. Teikyo University went on to win three of the four events, and Booyens says it was amazing to see such a high level of competition.
During the second week of the trip Booyens was invited to train with the Teikyo students. ‘This training was on another level than at the headquarters, as the students come from different styles. The spirit and encouragement between the students was incredible, and the intensity of training was insane,’ she said.
A two-hour session included a conditioning circuit with core, back, upper body, and lower body exercises. ‘The Japanese don’t do just 10 or 20 repetitions per exercise but at least 100 for each exercise of the three rounds.’
Booyens says this was a huge wake-up call when compared to the way she trains in South Africa. ‘I’m definitely going to incorporate more of this training into my programme.’
Earlier this year, Booyens competed at the African Games in Congo. She says that normally she has to cover all her own expenses, but it was ‘a breath of fresh air’ to be taken care of by SASCOC. Her brother Ian also competed at the Games, and both of them came home with medals from their events. ‘It was an awesome early birthday present! My birthday was three days after I competed and SASCOC even arranged a cake to celebrate the occasion.’
Booyens is a sport scientist by day, which makes it a lot easier to put in the hours at the gym or dojo. ‘I’m pretty busy and travel a lot between work at Functional Fitness Gym, Football Academy Plus, and coaching at TUKS Karate,’ she explains. The downside is that she works on a commission format, so doesn’t get paid while touring.
Directly before a competition Booyens’ training pattern changes slightly to prepare herself for the upcoming event. ‘The load and volume of training decreases, and even though intensity is high, the time is short. I do less work in the gym about two weeks before competition and focus a lot more on reaction training to sharpen up.’
Booyens says it is also important to eat correctly in order for it to have a positive effect on her performance, although she admits there is no standard guideline that works for everyone. ‘Competing in a sport with weight categories, weight maintenance always remains a challenge.’
Booyens is currently training for the 2016 Tshwane Regional Championships. This is the first step in qualifying for the Karate South Africa (KSA) National Championships. She also hopes to travel overseas for the Premier League Championships in order to prepare for the World Karate Federation (WKF) World Championships in November next year.

Van der Merwe is an intern at Highbury Safika Sports


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