BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook native Jonathan Peters began taking karate classes at the Bolingbrook Park District as an 8-year-old.
Now, more than a decade later, Peters, 19, is instructing classes he once attended and competing in international karate competitions.
The Bolingbrook High School graduate was one of 27 athletes representing the Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs in the World Shotokan Karate Championships in Liverpool, England from Sept 28 to 29.
One of more than 500 participants, Peters competed in a Kata – a style of karate characterized and judged by specified series of form, movements and poses. He also fought against other individuals in three fighting events.
Overall, Peters took fifth in his Kata class and had good showings in his fighting events. A Harper College student, Peters calls the journey to England and the competition “extremely rewarding and eye-opening.”
“The world championships was a little different than what I am accustomed to,” Peters said. “I am used to competing and fighting against people who are in my relative weight class, but there I was fighting against some participants who were 5 inches taller and 30 pounds bigger than me. But I really enjoyed the challenge.”
He explained that while he did not take a medal, he is very content with his performance and motivated to attend to world championships again in 2015.
“It was my second time traveling and competing in the World Shotokan Karate Championships,” Peters said. “You go into it wanting to win, and I was a little disappointed that didn’t happen. But I got the opportunity to see another culture and I beat out 65 other people in my Kata class. I have something to work toward in 2015.”
Stateside, Peters is also working toward another goal: karate instructor. At age 13, he began assisting in weekend karate classes and lessons at the Bolingbrook Park District.
For the last six years, he has helped teach children karate, often taking over entire classes when an instructor is sick or needs a replacement.
Running his own class remains the ultimate goal, but for now, Peters loves teaching children karate and sharing information that hooked him on the sport 11 years ago.
“Teaching karate classes is very rewarding – I love helping the youth and it reminds me of when I first started lessons,” Peters said. “I think classes can relate to the fact that I’m so young and enthusiastic about karate and martial arts.”