2007 Champion - Lachlan Carr

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Lachlan is 19 years old and has been training in GKR karate since he was 10. It was at this young age that he first set his sights on winning at the NAS Nationals, and with his mind so focused on the prize, it seems it was only a matter of time.

Lachlan comes from a family of martial artists, with his sisters Hayley and Isabelle both competing in NAS, and his father Danny currently a Brown-belt in GKR. Lachlan earned his 2nd degree Black-belt in 2005, under the guidance of coach and close family friend, Sensei Anthony Ryan.

Lachlan has had a fabulous year of success, beginning with his form in GKR nationals in December 2006, where he won the title of Open Black-belt Kumite Champion. Then in June 2007 he traveled to Birmingham, England, to compete in the GKR World Cup, where he contributed to Australia's accolades by becoming the World Open Male Black-belt Champion.

lachlan07-pic1The trifecta win of the NAS Champion of Champions has ensured Lachlan's reputation as a formidable young martial artist. Called upon to fight his training partner and two-time Champion Ben Cunningham in the final bout, Lachlan handled the pressure and used it to his advantage.

He recalls, "Fighting Ben is always fun. He's a great competitor and I knew he wanted this title as much as I did. We both know exactly how each other fights, so we had to be extremely careful; one wrong move and you could blow it. All I wanted to do was get in front early and not feel the pressure. And that's what happened."

Lachlan's pre-fight mindset was to keep it simple. He says, "My sister Hayley, who's has been training with me since I was 12, pulled me aside before I ran into the ring and gave me one of the best motivational talks that I have ever heard. I will never forget it. She got me ready to just get out there and not worry about the pressure; to just fight as if it was in the dojo."

At 69 kilos, Lachlan is a light and speedy fighter who values the basic techniques, like the lunging reverse-punch that GKR karate is so well known for. However, he admits that times are changing as GKR adapts to the new points system at NAS, where kicks are scored more highly than punches. "I like the good old hook-kick because it can be disguised pretty well. The kicking makes it interesting and you have to be careful how you block — you really have to show off to the judges that you've blocked, otherwise it's easy to score off kicks."

In assessing his own style, Lachlan sees a parallel between his own development and that of tournaments like NAS. "When I first started, all I did was punch, punch, punch. Back then you weren't awarded extra points for kicks, so every tournament I would punch my way to first place! Today, kicking is more recognised, so I've had to gain more flexibility and strength in my legs. Doing this has opened up a whole new style of fighting for me and has helped my footwork, speed, agility and accuracy."

As well as training four times a week in the specialist GKR tournament classes, Lachlan incorporates weights, cardio and a careful diet into his fitness regime. "I don't drink over training times and I eat very carefully. It's all about recovery at the end of every training session, as you need to replenish your muscles half an hour after training."

lachlan07-pic3Lachlan has been injury-free over this past year, a blessing that followed the setback of a broken jaw in early 2006, when he competed in the World All Styles Organisation (WASO) Championships on the Gold Coast. His placing as runner-up came at a price, as he was accidentally hit in the jaw during the final bout. "I didn't know it was broken and I couldn't really feel the pain, but it threw my game off completely. My jaw was glass after that and I wasn't allowed to fight. I had to get my confidence back."

"I won't spar without a mouthguard now. I am paranoid. I learnt how much a mouthguard protects your jaw as well as your teeth," he adds.

The broken jaw saw Lachlan out of the competition for three months, though it was to be the start of many successes. Reflecting on the past year, he says, "I've learnt so many things about myself and my karate this year. I guess the biggest one is that if you set a goal for yourself that you know you really want, and believe in it 100 per cent, then it doesn't matter how, what, where, or when; you will achieve that goal."

At the same time, Lachlan is quick to attribute his development to those he trains with, and to the club that has instilled in him the ethos of competitiveness and hard work — GKR karate. His win at the 2007 NAS is the culmination of that goal he set almost 10 years ago, when Lachlan began training in Quakers Hill, Sydney.

"It was at the 1999 NAS nationals when I saw my instructor, Sensei Alex Pereda, win that very same title. He was my first inspiration to try and get to the top," says Lachlan.

"I remember sitting down alone after [this win] and reflecting on the year I'd had. I looked up and saw a photo in my room of Alex Pereda and Glenn Hutchinson; I am standing next to them and I'm ten years old. I remember watching them and thinking, "Imagine if I could be there one day." They were so competitive but such good sports as well – I've always wanted to be just like that."

As a member of one of the largest karate schools in Australia, Lachlan has many people to draw inspiration from and to thank. Amongst them is his training partner Ashley Flemming and his sisters Hayley and Isabelle. "There was not one negative word that came out of their mouths; there never is. They just kept feeding me confidence all weekend." He also acknowledges his many instructors, including Senseis David North, Anthony Ryan, Alex Pereda, Glenn Hutchison and Shihan Stacey Karetsian. "I would not be the karateka I am today without these people in my life. I hang off every word they say and am always so grateful to be able to train under or alongside them."

lachlan07-pic2For aspiring champions, Lachlan's advice is clear: "Make it a goal. Don't just say, 'Yeah, I wouldn't mind being the Champ of Champs one day', because that will never work. There are so many people out there that will want it, so you have to want it more! Set the goal and visualise everything about achieving it — not one negative thought at all. That will make you believe you can get it, and it will work, if not now, then later."

With this attitude, Lachlan Carr will surely be back again. He is keen to compete in the next WASO tournament next year, but is keeping his feet on the ground. "Winning this tournament doesn't mean at all that I am the greatest fighter; I was just good enough on the day. I now want to train as if it never happened," he says.

But, of course, it did.