2002 Champion - Vedran Lovric

2002-vedransmall

Vedran Lovric is heralded as the 2002 National All Styles (NAS) Champions of Champions. His achievement sets him amongst the elite martial artists of Australia, in what is truly an all style event. Blitz caught up with the Champion for an exclusive insight into what it takes to win such a prestigeous event.

 

How old were you when you moved to Australia, and how did you discover martial arts?

My family and I moved to Australia in 1993 when I was 13-years-old. From memory, my first encounter with martial arts was when I was seven-years-old. My older cousin was already involved in karate and it was through him that I discovered karate and developed an ongoing interest in the art.

How long have you been training in GKR Karate? How has karate affected your life? What does martial arts mean to you?

I began training in March 1995 and have been in training ever since. In terms of how karate has affected my life, although it has only been an eight-year journey, karate has influenced both the physical and mental aspects of it. The mental aspects include my self-discipline, patience, my level of self-confidence, the way I conduct myself in everyday life, respect for others and self-respect. In a physical sense, karate has improved my fitness level, my stamina, fitness, strength, agility and readiness.

All in all, I believe karate has influenced the construction of my character and has given me the ability to be able to handle any obstacle that may be put before me.

Who has influenced you in the martial arts? How have they influenced you?

I have had many people in my life that have influenced me and motivated me to excel in all I do. My Senior Instructors; Shihan Stacey Karetsian, Sensei Anthony Ryan and Sensei Nabil Fanous, have played a major role in the development of my skills in karate and have also aided me in terms of emotional support. The wisdom and experience of my senseis has guided me through training and tournaments and I am sure that without these mentors I wouldn't be where I am today.

On another level, my seniors such as David North, Sensei Alex Pereda and Glen Hutchison have motivated me and brought out my competitive nature that in turn has allowed me to push my limits and be able to perform at my peak.

Can you describe your recent experience of winning the NAS champion of champions?

Winning Champion of Champions is definitely an experience I will remember for a long time to come. Winning the trophy was a very satisfying feeling and brought with it a sense of completion. Throughout the year, during training I kept Champion of Champions in the back of my mind and used it as a focal point to motivate me and push myself to train harder. Winning it felt great as I achieved what I had initially set out to do.

Who has been your hardest opponent?

It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly who my toughest opponent was as no opponent is easy. However a few people come to mind, in particular Sensei Alex Pereda and Glen Hutchison who are both exceptional fighters who have never allowed me to earn points the easy way. Apart from other numerous tough opponents I have encountered, Bo Campbell from Victoria has also consistently produced very challenging fights.

 

What is your favourite aspect of competition?

My immediate thoughts of competition make me feel very nervous and anxious due to the expectations I place on myself. This aside I enjoy competing very much because of the feeling I experience while I'm in the ring. The adrenalin makes me feel like I can do anything (this may not always be the case). I also enjoy the satisfaction experienced when a perfect technique is executed.

What are your career highlights?

Winning the 2000 WASO Champion of Champions and the Champion of Champions I recently won at the NAS Championships in Melbourne would definitely be at the top of my list, but winning the 1999 GKR Nationals Open Division perhaps stands out as the most significant point in my karate career as it was my first major open win at a national level.

How do you prepare for the competition?

Training: Apart from karate training all year round, I try to increase and vary my training before a competition and focus on sparring and speed drills. I also occasionally do bag work. The amount I train before a tournament heavily depends on how mentally prepared I am.

Diet: My diet program is fairly strict but simple. Not only in preparation for competition but all year round. I stick to a very healthy diet high in carbohydrates and protein and low in fat. I also drink plenty of water. I don't have junk food or soft drinks. Before a competition I eat plenty of carbohydrates for maximum energy.

Fitness: My fitness program consists of going to the gym three days a week, regular sprint drills and occasional mid-distance running as well as cross training with basketball and soccer. In preparation for a major tournament I would vary my program in order to increase my speed and sharpness.

How do you deal with your inner critic and outside distractions?

In order to perform at my best I constantly have to criticise myself in a constructive way. This involves placing high expectations on myself, improving my weaknesses and perfecting my strengths in karate. Although winning a fight is a satisfying feeling, I am usually not 100 per cent happy unless I have performed at the pre-expected level that I aim for. As far as outside distractions are concerned, karate has taught me self-discipline that enables me to focus on karate and not give in to temptations. It is also essential that I organise my time well and take into consideration what sometimes seems like an endless list of responsibilities. Despite dedicating much of my time to full-time university, work, family and friends, I ensure that I keep training a priority.

What effect do your teammates have on your training and performance?

I believe that my teammates play a very important and motivational role in both my training and performance. Although how hard an individual trains is essentially up to that individual and no one else teammates help in various ways. Offering helpful advice on how to improve techniques and encouraging each other during a tough class is just some of the ways teammates can positively affect training.

On a performance basis, teammates have an enormous effect on the way I fight in a competition. They are always there to offer emotional support and they always get behind me, which has a considerable impact on the outcome of the fight. All in all, making it through training sessions and tournaments would be literally impossible without their presence.

How important is mental preparation? How do you prepare your mind for the competition?

I consider mental preparation vital before a competition. I think that your mind has to be just as ready as your body to take on an opponent. It is possible to be physically ready but without focus, determination and the right confidence levels you could turn a potential victory into a sure defeat.

Before a competition my personal mental preparation consists of, first and foremost, never underestimating my opponents. I always prepare myself for any opponents' best fight. I do this through visualising opponents' techniques and remembering their style of fighting. This helps me ready myself for the fight.

Have you ever been forced to use karate outside of competition?

Although I have never needed to use karate in a self-defense sense, I use the values instilled in me through karate on a day-to-day basis.

How can martial arts be used to improve your daily life?

As I mentioned earlier I believe martial arts can impact on your well being as a whole person. Not only can it improve your physical fitness and teach you self defense it can also better your attitude towards life in general. Martial arts can prepare you to take on many various situations and enable you to handle them in an appropriate way consistent with the beliefs that have hopefully been instilled in all martial arts students.

What are your goals for the future?

Most importantly I would like to continue karate for as long as possibly can. It is a lifelong journey that I can't imagine giving up. Competition-wise my current focus is the GKR World Titles in the UK in May/June this year. I have set my expectations at a high standard and I'm currently working towards them for the tournament. As far as my long-term goals are concerned, my dream would definitely be to train and compete in Japan. I would also perhaps, one day like to begin teaching and make karate a full-time vocation.