Valley girl a new karate kid, heading to national tournament


by Tyler Baldwin

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 21 at 11:10 AM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A a recent karate competition at Grand Canyon University, as hundreds of kids competed, five-year-old Kaylee Monigan Berger medaled in three different categories. Now she is getting ready to represent Arizona at a national competition.

Next month, Kaylee will head to Reno for USA National Karate Championships, which is the same event where they hold the Olympic trials.

"What makes it so unique is that she is able to take everything we teach and adapt it immediately," said her sensei at Peaceful Warrior in Scottsdale, Richard Poage

Poage began his training around the same age as Kaylee but admits she is a whole lot more advanced.

"If we got my 4-year-old self or 5-year-old self out here she would destroy me,” Poage said. “It would not be pretty."

Kaylee picked up the sports after watching her 8-year-old brother, who's also pretty darn good.

At Nationals, Kaylee will compete in the kata —the weapons category— and non combat sparing.

"You have sparring gear on and it's fake fighting," Kaylee said.

Her sparring finishing move? The roundhouse kick.

"Throw kicks to the head,” said Kaylee.

“She loves doing cartwheels and loves gymnastics. She has a good stretch, so her kick to the head is pretty good,” said Kaylee’s mother, Heather. "As a mom, it’s nice to have a daughter who feels empowered, and when she is 16 and possibly dating, I think we will feel pretty good about that."