Young Maddie packs a strong punch in martial arts
FROM the outside, you wouldn't guess that Maddie Langan holds a black belt in karate and is one of the top competitors in Australia for mixed martial arts.
The 12-year-old recently travelled to Sydney with her team from Nanango's Karate For Kids to take part in the International Sports Karate Association's Australian titles. The group consisted of eight young competitors from the region, the youngest being six years old.
Maddie has secured the place of second in Australia for point sparring, fourth in traditional form and fourth for continuous sparring in her age group.
"It was very hard to get to that standard," Maddie said.
"I had to practise a lot to get it to not only how I wanted it to be, but to the standard of the people judging you.
"You've got to present yourself very well."
Maddie first got into self-defence at the age of eight and had a natural talent for the sport.
At that age, she was a shy, young girl and said the sport built not only her physical strength, but her confidence as well.
"I was very, very shy when I was young, so it sort of brought me out of my shell," she said.
"I'm still learning, my confidence is a lot better than it was and I believe it's building me into a better person."
Martial arts teaches the art of co-ordination, self-control and respect and Maddie believes the sport has built her into a better person in all areas.
"The sport is quite challenging mentally and you've got to be strong mentally in order to keep going," Maddie said.
"Mentally you have got to push yourself past barriers - it's a very complex sport and you have to think.
"You're on your toes all the time, you've got to be thinking all the time - thinking of your moves and your opponent's moves."
As a young girl, Maddie is beginning to think of how the sport will benefit her long-term.
"I think it will be very useful - especially as a girl. It's very useful to defend yourself," she said.
"I like that I can be challenged. There's always new things I can learn."
She has been competing since the beginning of the year and tournaments take place all year.
For an intense sport, it has never really taken its toll on her body.
"I've rolled my ankle and did damage to tendons but I've never been badly injured," she said.
"I've been winded, it's going to happen, it's a contact sport, but it's never been a broken bone or anything."
She trains five days a week and is an assistant instructor at her school alongside instructors.
Training is tough and, aside from school, it's all Maddie has her heart set on.
"I'm looking at competing in the future and I'd like to become professional one day, but that's a long way into the future," she said.
For now, she works hard at perfecting her technique and has set out to complete her goals step by step.
"It's not a difficult sport, but you've got to be co-ordinated," she said.
"You've got to be committed and have a passion for it and I still have a long way to go.
"You can always learn new things, you can be very good at your sport, but you can always learn new things."