Ballina’s Bec Washington is Australia’s number one black belt in Taekwondo, holding the national championship title for open heavy weight black belt division. And with a run of wins this year that leave her undefeated in karate, she is now heading to the World Cup in October to compete internationally in this martial art.
The World Cup will not be her fist international competition, having gained two bronze medals at the New Zealand Open in 2013.
Bec’s recent wins at the 4th round of the ISKA (International Sports Karate Association) Tournament, held at Caboolture on the Splendour weekend, can be seen on the Strike Martial Arts facebook page. “That was the last tournament before the World Cup so it was good to have those wins” said Bec.
The 24 year old puts her success down to her training at Ballina and Alstonville’s Strike Martial Arts, especially her coach and mentor Master Shane McKeahnie, a sixth dan black belt master. “I have an awesome coach” she said. “I started training when I was 19 and had never really done much sport before that. I could see so much improvement in myself – I was more confident as well as being fitter and healthier. The environment at Strike is what kept me going. It’s like a family, it’s very supportive and there are no egos”.
“Miss Bec” as she is known to the many other students at Strike Martial Arts teaches at both the Alstonville and Ballina Dojangs. Local Chef Natasha Stamm, who is known for her cake making business Treats and Teirs (which supplies cakes and desserts to some of the Northern Rivers’ favourite cafes and restaurants including Quattro and The Top Shop) has recently joined the adult Taekwondo introductory classes with Bec. She was inspired after watching her seven year old son Jonty benefit from martial arts training.
“Jonty has become so fit and strong since he started training” said Natasha. “Mentally it’s been very good for him. He’s more disciplined and he has matured. The difference is incredible. I think all school children should do martial arts, it sorts them out”.
Strike Martial Arts has produced over 40 national champions in the different divisions, as well as having two students compete at the Commonwealth Championships for Australia in 2009. Owner and coach Master Shane McKeahnie was himself a former National Champion in the Black Belt Division and was awarded a Bronze Medal at the World Taekwondo Championship in Korea in 2012.
To anybody interested in learning martial arts, including kick boxing fitness classes, Bec says “Just come down to the classes in Ballina or Alstonville and say hi. Meet the instructors and have a look at the environment”.