Karen Estrocio, a standard II student of St Michael’s School, Caranzalem, is the youngest star to feature on our pages so far. Not yet 8, this very shy and timid-looking girl recently bagged two gold medals at the All Goa Karate Do Championship, 2012.
Looking at her you would hardly believe that she is capable of such feats but then it is very true that you should never judge a book by its cover.
In 2010, at the age of 6, Karen started learning karate along with her siblings Jane and Joao, under Uday Zambaulikar, a 3rd Dan Black Belt and took to it like a fish to water. “My brother was learning karate and his teacher used to come home to give him lessons, so my mum decided to put me and my sister for karate as well,” says Karen as she explains how she got into learning the art. At preset Karen is a ‘Purple Belt’, and is working her way towards the next grade and finally towards the coveted ‘Black Belt’.
Karate mainly consists of Kata (forms or patterns of moves) and Kumite (Sparring) and Karen thoroughly enjoys both. Three months after she joined karate classes, Kare appeared for her firs exam and got her yellow belt. Was she nervous for the exam I asked? “No, I was well prepared and was looking forward to it,” she says. Her instructor, Uday, says, “Karen is very focused even though she is so young. Most of the students her age are very distracted and do not pay attention but she is very attentive and listens and follows the instructions to the tee.”
In 2011, at the All Goa Karate Do, she won a gold in Kata and a bronze in Kumite. Watching Karen sparring is really like watching a skilled artist with her brush. Her confidence and skill just flows with an ease that is really a pleasure to watch. “Her strong point is her kick,” says Uday her instructor. In fact she practices with her sister and brother at home and both confirm what Uday says. Her 13-year old brother Joao adds, “Karen’s punches are also very good and I have fun practicing with her.”
All this did not come easy to Karen, she worked really hard to achieve what she did. Her karate classes are four times a week for a minimum of an hour. “We start with half an hour of warm-up and then practice all the Katas and Kumites. I enjoy my classes very much,” she adds.
Before any competition it is natural to feel nervous but not little Karen. Her mother Filomena says, “Karen is very confident and never worried when it comes to competitions. In fact she is in her element at these times.” Her father, Francis, is a businessman and as is with businessmen, he is usually very busy but takes time out to attend all of Karen’s competitions.
In November, 2011, Karen also started gymnastics. “I love gymnastics, especially doing cartwheels and front roll,” says Karen with a huge smile. In a recent school activity, Karen displayed her cartwheels to all present and everyone was floored, especially her principal, Ms D’Souza.
Karen also loves to sing and in the school competition last year she won the third prize. “My favourite song is ‘Doe a Deer’, I also like, ‘Such a Feeling’,” she confides. Karate, gymnastics and singing are not the only fields that Karen is active in, she also likes to spell and won a prize last year at the Spelling Bee held in school. Her mother, Filomena says, “Karen has a lot of energy and it is rare to find her sitting and doing nothing.”
At home, Karen is vey content to watch ‘Loony Toons’ on TV, especially, Tom and Jerry. She also has two dogs, Kenya- a Boxer and Spike- a Doberman whom she adores. “I love playing with my dogs, especially Kenya as she is a good dog and listens. She also licks me and runs around the house with me. We have a lot of fun, says Karen laughing.”
At present Karen is content winning prizes in different fields and playing with her dogs. The future for this little one is very bright indeed!