Karate Trio Wins Big at World Championships


Mia Tickell

Karate siblings Jacob (12), Miyah (11), and Ella Verde (9) recently competed at the World Championships in Florida, placing in the top five athletes across various categories. With nearly a decade of training, the trio came home with an abundance of medals.

Nikki Iyer, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In competition with 35 countries, yet ranking in the top five athletes among various brackets, three siblings found success at the recent World Karate Championships in Florida. Freshman Ella, junior Miyah, and senior Jacob Verde represented the U.S. flag at the international tournament, placing 1st, 2nd, and 4th in categories like Kata and short/long weapons.

“Hearing the anthem in the back… with the flag draped around your shoulders while you’re taking the photo and you’re getting your medal, it was really cool,” said Miyah.

At the World Championships, the siblings competed against countries like Romania, Egypt, and Venezuela in their respective divisions. Their success required an immense amount of practice, discipline, and dedication.

“It was pretty cool, it felt good. [I] worked eight years, for a really long time, and for the last four months I was training four hours a day. I was at the gym constantly and was training a lot, and it took a really big toll on my body. Finally for it all to be all over and to be getting pretty solid results, it’s very gratifying,” said Jacob.

They attribute much of their success to their black-belt father, a National Karate Champion at age 17, who insisted they pursue Karate. Now, Ella is a second degree junior black belt, Miyah is a second degree adult black belt and Jacob is a first degree adult black belt. Ironically, when they began, nearly a decade ago, they didn’t expect to like the art. However, the opportunity to meet new people, fight and compete motivated the siblings to continue practicing.

“I think I like the adrenaline. I like the high of it,” said Ella. 

Hearing the anthem in the back… with the flag draped around your shoulders while you’re taking the photo and you’re getting your medal, it was really cool

— Miyah Verde

However, their successes were not without suffering. According to the family, competing in Karate requires persistence in spite of injuries. Jacob says that each of the siblings have accumulated about five concussions. At an international tournament in Las Vegas, both Jacob and Miyah competed in spite of a 102 degree fever. For the May 2022 National tournament, Ella practiced for weeks with a broken foot, and Jacob practiced with a torn leg. At the tournament, Jacob broke his big toes and Miyah competed with sprained ankles, unable to wear a brace, as a brace could become a visible target.

“You have to just deal with it. You just can’t show it, because if you show it it’s an immediate deduction because you’re showing that you’re weaker than usual, and then also when you’re fighting if anyone sees any kind of weakness they’re immediately going to come after it because it’s an easy hit,” said Miyah.

Now, the students are senseis, or instructors, at their home dojo, Japan Karate-Do Federation, located in Mission Viejo. Though, life in the dojo is significantly different to life outside. In Karate, respect is earned by the belt color, not age, so the high schoolers instruct all age ranges. From learning to teaching, the siblings agree that practicing the art has shaped the people they are today.

“When I started I was insanely shy and I could barely speak for myself, and karate was really what brought me out of that and now I’m the one teaching the class,” said Miyah.

“We definitely have much more self-composure. One of the main things they really teach us- it’s not just self defense- it’s mainly manners. One way our sensei told us is ‘you know if someone does Karate is by their manners’ because Karate-Do teaches not only karate but also life lessons like self-respect and how to be kind to others,” said Ella.

The “do” in Karate-do signifies a way of life, beyond just a class or competition.

“It wasn’t really just a sport, it was a lifestyle, that’s how we were taught it,” said Miyah.