Local 14-year-old masters his karate craft

News 12 Sports
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Sept. 16, 2013 Most are familiar with the saying, those who can't do, often teach. Most haven't met Walker Tharpe. A local teenager gifted in the art of karate, and he's breaking that old cliche'.

Tharpe is a 14-year-old that fights above his age. In only a few years of judo and karate training, Tharpe is a second degree black belt and a 2012 Judo state champion.

"Very determined, very self-disciplined, and that's one thing...hard to find in kids nowadays," fellow teacher Jeff Guerrero said.

Walker has something else not normally seen. The maturity to understand. In July, Tharpe lost his karate master, John Pereda to a heart attack. Now, the teenager is a teacher amongst his peers.

"I just try to make it fun for them. Get them into it," Tharpe said.

With the support of John's wife, Ann, and Guerrero, the teenager is working with students in Thomson and Wrens. Tharpe does it because he loves the sport, but more so, he wants to keep the gym's legacy alive.

"It is hard for people to understand, but he is something special. John knew he was something special and he did everything he could to foster that," Ann Pereda said.

The gym participated in its first competition since the passing of their master this weekend. Thanks to the wisdom passed down by his friend, Tharpe participated as a teacher.

"It's different without (John) being here, but we're just going to shake the pillars of heaven and do the best we can," Tharpe said.