From the circus ring to a black belt
In Gen Z in the Spotlight we chat to young people on a mission. Up this week is Harvey’s very own karate kid, Josh Lavis. Josh grew up in the circus and later moved to Harvey with his family. He took up karate and managed to earn his black belt in just 18 months. The karate prodigy was the second brown belt in history to be selected for the Australian World Championship team.
From rolling up in a circus trailer to rolling out a fumikomi on the karate professional stage, is a martial arts marvel from Harvey.
Josh Lavis has used the skills he learnt growing up in the circus to elevate his karate career and achieve the unachievable.
The 18-year-old turned to karate two years ago and is already competing at the highest level.
“When I first started, it annoyed me that I was only a yellow belt,” Josh said.
“I wanted to have a black belt, so I pushed myself and trained hard.
I saw the opportunity to travel and compete, so I set a goal to get there.
Josh would finish school at Harvey Senior High School — where he was the head boy — at 3pm. He would walk to the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre and train by himself until the team joined him at 5pm.
The training would go for a further three hours and overtime. Josh got results. “Sensei would always say that only 10 per cent of the training is done together,” Josh said.
“He taught us that the other 90 per cent had to be off our own backs if we ever wanted to represent Australia.”
However, Josh was no stranger to practice.
He would have to rehearse his circus head balance act every day when he was touring Australia in the Lennon Bros Circus.
His father Steve was a lion tamer, fire breather and flying trapeze catcher. His sister Stephanie was a contortionist.
“I was born into it, performing was my whole life,” Josh said.
“I was used to a lot of training and repetition.”
Next month Josh would have been competing at the Karate World Championship with four other Harvey karate members.
It has been cancelled because of the coronavirus, however Josh and the team still have their eyes on the prize.
“I keep training in the hope that it will go ahead in 2021,” he said.
Sensei Paganini Ursua said Josh had worked hard to earn his black belt.
“I saw the potential in him so I pushed him as hard as I could,” Mr Ursua said.
“He invested a lot of time in training, accelerated in gradings and joined competitions.
“Above all, Josh embodies the dojo kun, karate code.”
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