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2020 Annual Award Winners

2020 Budoka of the Year – Merryn Jaffers

Merryn’s amazing attitude has been evident throughout her training this year and, as a result of this attitude, Merryn’s technique has been maturing rapidly. She always sets a fantastic example whether as a leader for the younger students or in her own classes, and she is always willing to help others.

Dojo instructors and leaders are constantly impressed by Merryn’s technique and ability. She is a strong leader capable of running warm-ups and small groups in class, which is a huge help to the instructors. However, instructors have been even more impressed by Merryn’s attitude.

Merryn’s selfless and dedicated approach to karate has seen her give up her Saturday mornings to help Sam Sensei run classes while injured, return from family camping trips to attend key seminars and training opportunities, and continue attending classes even when her family members were no longer training. This willingness to make sacrifices, set a strong example, and help others embodies the Budoka spirit and makes Merryn an extremely worthy recipient of this year’s Budoka of the Year award.


2020 Senior Karateka of the Year – Kazumi Tominaga

Kazumi Senpai achieved her shodan (black belt) ranking this year and it was a well-deserved reward for her dedication to karate through significant adversity. She balances karate, studying, working, and family life and finds creative ways to achieve her goals.

For example, Kazumi Senpai trains at home consistently even when she can’t make it into the dojo. While she is already one of the most flexible people in our dojo, Kazumi Senpai stretches every single day to maintain her flexibility. She works hard to improve her karate and weapons technique and doesn’t let any class go to waste, working hard at all times and thinking deeply about techniques and underlying concepts.

Kazumi Senpai also acts as an invaluable liaison between Adam Sensei and the Sohonbu in Japan. She has built many strong relationships with Soke, Sodai, and other members of the Sohonbu. She has earned the respect of these senior karateka during training trips to the Sohonbu and by trying her hardest in classes when the senior instructors visit Australia. Kazumi Senpai’s consistency and commitment have led to her being named 2020 Senior Karateka of the Year.


2020 Junior Karateka of the Year – Tahlia Boyd

Tahlia is known as the quiet achiever in the dojo. She is the hardest working student in every class she attends, no matter what the exercise. She consistently displays a determined spirit. For example, before any class, Tahlia can be found practising her kata and refining her techniques. Through this effort, she has begun to develop a very good technique and will continue to progress.

During her time as a karate student, Tahlia has learned to harness any self-doubt or disappointments into hard work to achieve her goals. She doesn’t waste time talking or standing around to see what others are doing; she gets straight down to training hard.

As a result of her deep commitment, hard work, and excellent etiquette, Tahlia has well and truly earned the award for Junior Karateka of the Year.


2020 Little Champions Karateka of the Year – Erika Baritchi

Erika moved into the Juniors training program even though she is still a Little Champion due to her maturity in both attitude and technique. She stands out as an exceptional student even in classes with the Juniors who are much older than she is.

Before class, Erika practices rather than playing games or talking. If her friends want to talk to her, they’ll have to join her in practicing and stretching before class. This attitude extends throughout the class, with Erika making a point to try to set the best example in whatever exercise is happening. Erika sees setbacks as a chance to improve and learn, not an excuse to get upset.

The most upset we’ve seen Erika in the dojo is when she was exhausted after doing two classes each day for some time. Her mother decided to take her home after the Little Champions class one day as Erika was nearly asleep on her feet. Erika was devastated to be told she needed to go home and rest; she wanted to do more karate even though she knew she was too tired to continue.

This commitment and effort made Erika a clear choice as our 2020 Little Champions Karateka of the Year.


Congratulations to all our worthy award recipients. The single theme underlying each person’s achievement is hard work. None of these karateka are content to go through the motions at karate. Instead, they put their entire effort into being the hardest working students with the right etiquette. As a result, each of these students has seen their karate continue to improve. They are terrific examples of the key guiding principles of Chito-Ryu: with peace, perseverance, and hard work, we are sure to reach our goals.

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