Fifteen-year-old Tomás Moya is the current karate ‘grand champion’ of Wales in the under-16 boys and recently surprised his team by winning bronze at the European Shotokan Karate Championships in Matosinhos, Portugal, competing for the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) Wales team.
What has this got to Majorca, you may wonder? Well, a short and wonderful history lesson about Tomás’s family, gratefully provided by his proud Cardiff-born father Jaime, explains.
"My dad, Juan Moyá Catalá, or Juan ‘Lau’ as he was known in the village, was from Lloseta and all of my Majorcan family still live in the Lloseta area. His dad, my grandfather (Jaime ‘Pintores’), was a miner in Lloseta and my grandmother Maria ‘Lava’ worked in the fields. Having lived in Wales most of my life, it’s strange that there are no miners on the Welsh side of the family but there were quite a few on the Majorcan side.
"We are in close contact with my cousin, my aunt and the many cousins of our extended family - social media is great for that - and they were sending messages of support from Lloseta via Facebook when Tomás was competing in Portugal and of pride when he won his medal.
"After my dad left school he worked at first in a local shoe factory and then as a waiter in the '60s, which is how he met my mum Susan and came to end up living in Wales. After retiring in the mid-nineties he went back to live in Majorca again for a few years, settling in Cala Sant Vicenç where he became well known and loved in the village resort, making close friendships with many expat Brits and local Pollencins.
"He was quite a character and would love to take Brits on trips to see the 'real Majorca'. There would be things like where to find the best fig trees and the places of his childhood where he would ask his guests - "You know what it is, that?" - before explaining what would be done with it (like the Pou d’en Gatell outside Campanet). Many were also taken to the 1 May paella in Lloseta down the years, which they often remind me of when I bump into them.
"He came back to Wales in 2003 or 2004 after Tomás was born and they were very close as Tomás was my dad’s first grandchild. In Majorca my dad was always keen to take him on walks where he would explain things that could be found and eaten, what could be done with various types of reed, like burning the hair off a pig at the matances or making a rack for drying figs and generally passing on his own love for Majorca and everything about it, especially the fiestas like Sant Antoni and the Moors and Christians and the food, which of course Tomás has been brought up on.
"My dad sadly passed away here in Wales in January 2016 after a sudden illness - there was of course great shock amongst our friends in Majorca but also lots of support - and his ashes are now interred in a family tomb in Lloseta."
And now, with the new year ahead of us, Tomás, who cannot wait to come out to Majorca as soon as possible, is facing some very serious and tough sporting challenges.
Training at Bargoed Shotokan Karate Club in South Wales under Sensei Kevin O’Neill, Tomás has had a particularly successful 2017 and in May he became ‘grand champion’ of Wales in the under-16 boys category by winning gold in both the kumite (freestyle ‘shobu ippon’ fighting) and kata (pre-set forms) disciplines, having previously been kumite champion in 2013 and runner- up in 2015 and having appeared in the last three kata finals at the annual championships.
"But this year, despite still only being 15, he steps up to the ‘cadet’ or under-18 category and he is going to be the youngest and the smallest, the rookie," Jaime explains.
"Unlike in the Olympics, the competitors are not categorised by weight. So, while Tomás is small for his age anyway, still a teenager, he is now going to be competing against 18-year-old ‘men’ who could outweigh him big time. However, for those who know this discipline of karate or who like to find out more, it is a very technical martial art, one of the originals and that is where Tomás excels and surpasses all expectations.
"Although the discipline is not an Olympic sport (yet), his targets are the European and World championships. But he has also to get through his education, another field in which he shines, although given half the chance, it would be sport, sport, sport. He is a talented rugby player, keen cyclist and very good tennis player. Nadal is his sporting hero, but the tennis has had to go by the window in order for him to concentrate on karate and his studies.
"Karate actually means fighting with no weapon. It came from the fields and people used to learn how to either fight and kill their enemies without weapons or adapted their skills to fighting with agricultural equipment such as staffs. There are various moves, at least 20, which have to be performed and nearest to perfection as possible, such as the one punch kill. This is where Tomás’s technique outshines most of his competitors, whatever the age, size or weight."
The path Tomás could follow with such fighting skills includes the likes of professional kickboxing, but Jaime is not too keen on that. In the meantime, Tomás has a long martial arts path to follow and if he continues to stay on that path, who knows where he will end up.
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