Whakatane sword fighters set sights on Korea

Whakatane Haidong Gumdo Head instructor Danyel Degenhardt.

Whakatane Haidong Gumdo Head instructor Danyel Degenhardt.

Whakatane Swordfighters will represent our town and nation, when they head to South Korea in July.

Whakatane Haidong Gumdo Incorporated has seven members who will be representing Team New Zealand at World Mulimpia from July 11 to 19th.

The local representatives are made up of two family units including a father and son combo, a father daughter combo and a husband and wife, plus another club member.

They'll take on three days of competition in Korea in July, including paper and bamboo cutting, individual and group patterns and other demonstrations.

Head instructor of the Whakatane Club, Danyel Degenhardt says this is a first for all.

"I'm from Canada and I was head coach of an arctic winter game, so I've done an international event with a club -- but this is much more special to me because of the journey I've had for it.

"It's a brand new experience for all of us."

This year's Mulimpia celebrates it’s four year anniversary, and it's only the second time Team New Zealand has been represented.

Danyel says he's excited to also be heading the team. He hopes to offer a point of difference to the competition, by bringing the local club's values of whanau, fun and challenge into the mix.

"Haidong Gumbo has a lot more heart, than some of the other martial arts.

"We feel that especially when we train in the outdoors, and we have been doing a lot of that lately at Otarawairere and Ohope Beach -- so we'll have a lot of heart going over to Korea.

"Even though we'll be half way across the world we'll still be feeling that emotional link."

He says the team will also use the occasion to upskill.

"We'll be able to learn more about the history of our marital art too, which I'm excited about," says Danyel.

In order for all seven members of the club to attend they are working towards their goal of $30,000 in fundraising and sponsorship.

Their efforts include a social media campaign, along with regular sword-related videos and photos on Instagram and on Facebook.

The club has invited the public to follow them on Instagram (@whkhaidonggumdo) and on Facebook at Whakatane Haidong Gumdo, as they work towards their goal of competing at worlds and beyond.

Sam Gardner