Memphis student places first at national karate championships

WATCH: Memphis student places first at national karate championships

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Joydyn Philmore found herself amongst the top karate talent in the nation last weekend in Chicago.

She wasn't fazed at all.

“One of the girls I went against, she was making faces and stuff,” Philmore said. “It was funny, but I guess she was trying to make people scared of her or something like that.”

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Philmore laughed her way to first place at the National Karate Championships. The fourth grader is now No. 1 in her age division.

Bringing back the gold has made her Sea Isle Elementary community proud.

“We just want to celebrate her and kind of bask in it a little bit and enjoy part of that excitement because she is a student at Sea Isle. And we're so excited that she is and excited that she was able to bring home the gold back to Memphis,” Sea Isle principal Renee Meeks said.

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It's been a quick rise for Philmore, who struggled with coordination when she started two years ago.

“She had to put in the work,” Rev Wind Martial Arts instructor Jennifer Bonapart said. “She had to fight higher belts. She never fought anyone that was her rank.”

Philmore is one of numerous kids who train at Rev Wind Martial Arts on Quince Road.

This hidden gem is offering a positive outlet to all kids.

“We have autism spectrum kids,” Bonapart said. “We love teaching those kids and it really, really helps them to focus.”

For Philmore and her training mates, it’s an opportunity to stay fit and busy when school is over.

“It helps me have after school activities to do something,” she said. “Not just go home and do nothing. And it helps me exercise.”

Karate has put Philmore on the national stage. It could take her even further.

“Karate is now in the Olympics,” Bonapart said. “2020 will be our first year in the Olympics. If Joydyn continues on this path we're going to the Olympics, definitely.”