Taking on the world in taekwon-do

A MAS Claims Adviser by day and a martial arts maestro in her spare time, Kyla Walton has beaten some of the world’s best to gold medal victory.

Smashing boards with side kicks might sound like the stuff of movies, but that’s exactly how Kyla took out a gold medal at the recent World ITF Taekwon-Do Championships in Finland. 

The martial arts pro says that, while she’s tried her hand at other taekwon-do events, ‘power breaking’ is her speciality. 

“I use arm and leg techniques to break the boards, and my favourite is the side-piercing kick where you use the heel of your foot. I started taekwon-do when I was about 7 years old, and I’ve always loved competing. Over time, you just find an aspect you really click with, and power breaking is the category I’m best at.” 

For Kyla, who also took home a silver medal in the team power breaking event, getting to world champ level was certainly a labour of love. In the lead-up to the event, she trained 5 to 6 days a week, including weight sessions with a personal trainer and countless hours honing her skills at her Berhampore-based taekwon-do club. 

Kiwi World Cup taekwon-do.webp

Kiwi World Cup taekwon-do medal ceremony.webp

To succeed at the championships, she says mental strength is just as important as physical endurance. 

“There’s lots of pressure when you’re performing, but you just have to focus on one break at a time. Our training preps us for those moments, and you just have to trust your body to do what you’ve trained it to do. Some of the breaks can be a bit sore and tingly after, but you breathe through it. I’ve been lucky enough to not break any bones so far.” 

But when it came to the medal ceremony, Kyla says a scheduling mishap meant she nearly missed her moment to shine. 

“I was eating lunch when I got called up to say I was due at the podium. I ran for it and had to jump a fence on the way, but I got there just in time! Standing up on the dais felt so cool.” 

And with both parents taekwon-do instructors, she knows she always has people cheering her on from the stands. “My parents have been involved with the taekwon-do club for the past 25 years, and they always come along to the champs. They’re a great support, but I’m enjoying a break for the rest of the year!”