Chris Rahardja (pictured left with famous rugby All Black Jonah Lomu) is a young karate-ka with a big future. As well as competing and succeeding in many national and international tournaments, he is the first martial artist ever to be nominated at the prestigious Halberg Awards - New Zealand's 'Oscars' for sports people - all at the ripe old age of 17!
PA: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you Chris. How old were you when you started training and what got you interested in the martial arts and specifically karate?
Chris Rahardja: I started when I was five as my parents wanted me to do something and they thought karate would be good because it would teach me some good values and how to defend myself. Sport was not the first thing that came to mind really, I started competing when I was eleven so a good 6 years of traditional karate training before I entered tournaments. I started karate because Dad did kung fu back in Indonesia and he thought karate was a good solid, powerful style [PA: I think that is probably the same for most kids - they end up in something their parents choose for them. CR: Yeah, pretty much]. I am pretty grateful ending up doing karate as when I watch Taekwon-do I am glad I didn't do TKD cause watching it at the Olympics I was just not very impressed with it, although I have trained with the likes of Logan Campbell who went to the Olympics and his legs are super fast but when you are fighting someone it [TKD] just doesn't quite click for me.
PA: Which style do you study?
Chris Rahardja: Fushin Ryu Karate New Zealand, a Ryobu kai / Wado-ryu based style.
PA: How often do you train and what does your training consist of?
Chris Rahardja: Training changes depending on what I am doing, for instance last year leading up to the World's I was pretty-much training everyday, consisting of short intervals, short bursts but now at the moment it averages maybe 1.5 to 2 hours [per session] and can consist of kata - doing all my kata to try to get my fitness back up. I try to do weights 3 times a week maybe, focusing on upper body and legs to build strength and stamina, and then I have specialised kumite training on a Thursday night as well which is when the whole Auckland squad comes together which is quite good. I do three or four basic classes a week focusing on kihon, which is important for both kata and kumite and to get my core strength working.
PA: So you train everyday?
Chris Rahardja: Pretty much, I have a day off every second Sunday.
PA: That's a lot of training!
Chris Rahardja: Yeah, fitting it in with school is quite hard (laughs).