THE inaugural youth mayor at council is fighting for Frankston in unexpected ways.
19-year-old Gerard Felipe gets his kicks from more than just serving youth in Frankston, he is also training to defend his title as a national karate champion.
“I’ve just recently won the 2018 Japan Karate Association Championship,” Mr Felipe said.
“I’m very lucky, because now I’m an eight time national champion. My first national championship was in 2012 in Melbourne, and this one was on the Sunshine Coast.
“In 2017 I competed in Ireland, and was top five in the world. In the 2014 World Championships in Tokyo I placed top five, and in the US Open in Las Vegas I placed top three.”
Felipe, born in the Philippines, started his training in Seaford at age 11. Now he is a black belt, second dan, training in traditional competition under one of Japan Karate Association’s most respected senseis.
“I was bullied in school because I was the smallest kid, I was timid and nervous, but because of my parents I got into karate and started to build confidence,” Mr Felipe said.
“I started locally up in Seaford with mentor Bruce Hyland, seventh dan. Now I have transferred to another mentor, Takaatsu Nishimura, seventh dan.”
Mr Nishimura said Mr Felipe was an “honest and diligent student”.
“He’s one of the top students. In his examination, Gerard exhibited high marks in his technique, his fighting skills, and his form. Those are all set forms, they have been passed down many years from the old masters,” he said.
Mr Felipe, halfway through his one year term as youth mayor and also studying Criminology and Politics, now has his eyes on the 2019 Asia-Pacific Championships in Bali. He is also training for the 2020 World Championships in Tokyo. Although accolades are nice, Mr Felipe said that he continues to train out of love for the sport.
“Karate is very dynamic,” he said.
“I will be training karate until I die.”
First published in the Frankston Times – 5 November 2018