From karate brown belt to world champion, learn how one person achieved a dream they never knew was possible.
We follow Darren Neales from the first time he tries Karate as a young child,
all the way up to becoming an identical twin and winning the World Karate Championship.redheaded blackbelt
Darren Neales is identical twin brother who was born 12 minutes after Darren,
he played hockey for 16 years, and was one of Canada’s best players.
When asked why he did karate, Darren replied “karate looked cool”.
when asked about his red hair, “my dad is Irish, I’m tough that way”, he said.
Darren doesn’t enjoy long distance running or endurance training.
He finds that it tires him out too much.
He finds comfort in short intense interval training.
When asked how it feels to be the World Karate Champion, his response was “I don’t think anything about it, I just do karate”.
On a warm summer night, a group of kids gather at a martial arts studio.
One child stands out from the rest, he stands at 5’6, has spiky red hair and wears a red belt – the only person in the group wearing one.
This is Darren Neales. Darren is 12 years old and he has been training for just over a month now.
Little does he know that this evening will change his life forever.
He has been invited to go to an all-weekend martial arts camp just outside of Toronto, Ontario – 2 hours away from home.
He tells his mother that he wants to go and she thinks it’s a great idea. She gives him her consent and off to camp he goes.
Darren has no idea what he’s in for. He doesn’t know that the best Senseis in the world will be there, at the camp.
He doesn’t know that this camp will change his life forever.
What he does know is that martial arts are fun,
they’re exciting, and at the end of each day, he’ll get to go home to his loving family who are wondering if he is having fun…
Darren arrives early at camp on Friday afternoon.
There are other kids already there.
One kid steps forward to meet him – his name is Paul Joneleit.
He’s a blue belt and he’s really excited about this camp.
Paul and Darren become friends almost instantly. They both share the same dream – to be black belts in karate!
There are 3 other kids at camp; Ryan, Michael and Matt.
There is also Sensei Bob (a brown belt) and Sensei Don (a black belt). Bob and Don oversee the camp,
they watch over the kids during training, rest times, meal times… you name it they’re there!
The week goes by in a flash; it seems like just yesterday that Darren arrived at camp, but here he is on Friday afternoon.
He’s sad to see the week go by so quickly.
He feels very close to Paul, Ryan, Michael and Matt. They have all become friends, due to Paul’s fantastic leadership skills!
Darren is now a very proud black belt at the age of 12.
He proudly shows it off to all his friends.
He even shows it off to his family when they come to pick him up on Friday night. He feels very strong, yet very humble.
He’s learned so much in just one week, but he feels like he has still so much more to learn.
Fast forward… Darren is now in high school, about 15 years old.
One day at lunch time, during gym class, everyone is playing sports; floor hockey, volleyball etc.
Darren gets chosen last for every game; even dodgeball (he hates dodgeball with a passion).
The only game he likes is soccer (football) but he can’t play because of an injury he got playing basketball the previous week.
Darren has been practicing karate nearly every day since he was 6 years old.
He loves it more than anything. It’s his passion, his dream. Darren can’t get enough of it!
He wants to keep improving, keep getting stronger, keep getting more powerful.
He wants to reach the highest level in karate that he possibly can. To him, that’s the pinnacle of personal achievement.
One day he will be a grandmaster, he thinks to himself.
He knows this is possible because of the amazing Senseis that have taught him over the years.
Sensei Bob and Sensei Don are still his heroes to this day.
His love for karate will never die. He knows there are many more great moments to come in his future…
As time goes by, Darren gets stronger and faster at karate.
He places in many tournaments all over North America, including one tournament where
he wins 4 gold medals (in individual sparring), 2 silvers (team sparring) and 2 bronze medals (point fighting).
This is a very memorable tournament for him!