World champion martial artist returns to Barry

Barry And District News: IN ACTION: Fourth-degree black belt Joseph Schembri IN ACTION: Fourth-degree black belt Joseph Schembri

A WORLD champion martial artist has returned home to his native Barry to teach Taekwondo.

A fourth degree black belt, four-time world featherweight champion and winner of numerous belts worldwide - among many other achievements - Joseph Schembri is a 27-year veteran of competitive Taekwondo.

And now after many years of globetrotting and competing, he is passing his knowledge on to classes in Barry Leisure Centre and at Margaret Alexander Community Centre.

Joseph, who attended Holton Primary School and Barry Comprehensive, became World Featherweight Champion in 1998, retaining the title for six years.

Travelling to Australia in 2003, Joseph began coaching and fought on the Olympic development team, winning many state championships and also the first Commonwealth Taekwondo games

Up to 2012 he fought and was involved in every World Championships and just last year at the age of 38 he claimed the world title for the fourth time.

Joseph has also won many European and British titles and in 2012 he fought through the Olympic team GB trials and got through to the last eight.

As well as being a keen martial artist Joseph took up competing in Iron Man triathlons after losing his mother who he describes as his "best friend and role model" to cancer.

He entered Ironman Ireland to raise money for The Jenny Schembri Foundation cancer charity and in the following year he completed Ironman Italy.

Joseph said: "The demanding training and fitness needed to complete an Ironman event gives me the edge to still compete at a high level in Martial Arts.

"In 2014 I will compete in Ironman Lanzarote and my goal is to complete Ironman Wales."

Joseph has now returned to his native Barry where his goals have widened to teaching a new generation of martial artists.

Talking about his Ninja Kids classes, for three to six-year-olds, children's classes and family classes he said: "Ninja kids is a perfect way to introduce children into the Martial Arts.

"We find this program helps children to set goals in early life with our graduations. It's is great way of burning energy whilst learning, our ninjas are taught to respect, stranger danger and to work within a team.

"It builds confidence for children and helps with discipline and it’s a good way to keep fit and active for adults and a great way to tackle obesity.

"We also offer classes where children can train alongside mum or dad. This enables them to interact and learn together.

Ninja Kids classes are 4pm-4.30pm at Alexandra Gardens Community Centre on Tuesdays, Junior Taekwondo (ages seven to nine) are Mondays, 4.15pm-5.15pm at Barry Leisure Centre and Family Taekwondo takes place on Thursdays, 6pm-7pm also at Barry Leisure Centre.

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