MOST people will have heard of Mr Miyagi and the Karate Kid.
The story of a boy and his Sensei who teaches him to learn through unconventional means to become a master of Karate. It might have been the thing of dreams for many a boy and girl growing up watching the films but the reality is that in order to be the best it’s no good waiting around for a Mr Miyagi.
You have to join a club and put in years and years of work and have the expertise of a Sensei to guide you from the basics to competing week in week out against all the other contenders who are all chasing the same dream. This isn’t Los Angeles and the quick fix from zero to hero for Danny as he becomes the Karate Kid.
Our story begins with a young boy from Morfa, Nicky Jay Evans who, at the age of four, joined a karate club and began putting in hours of training every day under the supervision of Hugh ‘Bungie’ Ruse the Sensei at Bungie’s Gym near Fforestfach.
Fast forward to 2018 some 5 years later and our young boy Nicky is the British Champion for the under 9’s category and a hot prospect for the Olympic Games of 2028. A long way off you may think but Nicky already has his sights set on that goal.
Watching him go through his paces with his sensei at the gym it is easy to see how this slight young boy has become a champion. Quietly spoken but confident he stands in the shadow of his sensei with the utmost respect.
When he dons the pads and begins to spar he comes alive. Hit after hit on his sensei extremely fast movements but pinpoint accuracy.
All the time his sensei is watching, silently encouraging him and offering the opportunities to attack but also to defend and by the way, he is defending against a man who is no slouch himself being the Wales coach and having been chosen to coach Team GB Karate at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Speaking about Nicky’s achievement Hugh said: “I am very proud of him. He has been training for 5 years He went up against the top talent in Britain. It takes dedicated training and competitions. Success breeds success. He trains every day of the week.
“He spars with the men and women and kids of his own age. It is good for the kids. Most who come here have not got a hobby. We have big classes and lots of kids coming through. We have a lot of respect from the community, what this will do is promote our karate and more people will turn up. Nicky is a brown belt and teaches the children.
“We are always looking for sponsorship. Being self funded makes it difficult to attend the competitions. When I was talking to the Olympic committee they said we should be looking to 10- year-olds now for the 2028 Olympics.”
We asked Nicky how difficult it was to beat the best of the best and become the British Champion. He said: “It was really hard. Some were bigger than me. I was thinking I was going to win. I went through 5 fights. I won all of them.”
Asked what his family friends and his school mates at Maes y Morfa thought of his achievement he said: “They are all really proud and pleased.”
The Morfa area of Llanelli is a Communities First area and is classed as an area of deprivation. Not a great label for any community. Rising high above that label is one extremely talented young man who has put Morfa, Llanelli and Wales on the map and looks likely to repeat that in the years to come.
Judging by what we saw today with the support of his Sensei, club mates and family. We may well be looking at a gold medalist at the 2028 games.
It did not start with a Hollywood plot and super fast victim to hero. Nicky’s story begins with the decision to join a karate club, to complete and utter dedication to the sport. No Mr Miyagi either. Just a sensei who believes passionately in teaching children the martial art of karate and imparting his extraordinary skills and knowledge day after day to those fortunate enough to make the same decision as Nicky made and make their way to Bungie’s Gym on Ravenshill Rd in Fforestfach.