By Gabrielle Mix, Special to the Independent
Evie Cant is a self-determined Laguna Beach High School senior from Australia who truly does it all, and more.
She writes music, excels in sports and is an honors student. Next fall, she will move back to the city where she was born, London, to pursue music at the Academy of Contemporary Music.
Before her move to Europe, Evie will do something extraordinary in another part of the globe. After this past week’s high school commencement ceremony, Evie will depart for China and Japan and another culmination, finishing her training for a black belt in karate. She also raised nearly all of the money for the trip herself.
“I think the timing is everything because it’s just as she finishes school, it’s before her last summer at home and before she leaves for her university. It’ll be quite momentous,” said her mother, Arabella Cant.
Evie began training in karate at 10 after being influenced by her close friends and family who had just begun taking classes. “I never really signed up knowing how much I would love it.”
Evie quickly began to excel and spent much of her time in the dojo studio, practicing for her next belt. Mrs. Cant said, “Evie is such a pretty, delicate little thing; you would never know that she is so tough.”
With bright blonde-hair, a warm smile and petite figure, Evie’s fierce side comes as a surprise. However, both her mental and physical strength have allowed her to succeed in this form of martial arts.
Evie describes her instructor as like a second father. “She is driven to be the best she can possibly be at anything,” said Jeff Kash, owner of United Studios of Self Defense in South Laguna where about 130 students train.
His advice to anyone hoping to earn their black belt is to “set high goals and be willing to put in the effort and dedication to achieve them,” something Evie has demonstrated in abundance.
Mrs. Cant agrees that beyond natural talent, her daughter’s dedication is what sets her apart. “She really has made it happen herself. It has not been anything I’ve done; she’s done it,” she said.
Evie joins the studio’s 12th trip abroad with five other students. Of the six, five are testing for their black belts including Evie. The sixth is testing for a brown belt.
To pay for her trip, Evie set up a Go Fund Me page that she forwarded to family and friends and asked them for donations rather than graduation or 18th birthday presents. “I didn’t want anything else… I just wanted to go on this trip to China,” Evie said.
Now, she has successfully raised 70% of the funds needed, with the extra help coming from her proud parents.
“It was really amazing that I have a lot of incredible people in my life that were able to support me,” Evie said.
With only a few weeks before her expected departure, Evie is excitedly and anxiously awaiting her karate test. Naturally more intense than any previous one, the process of earning a black belt consists of eight hours of strenuous physical and mental battles guided by Shaolin monks. The students will be tested on all of the various material they have learned throughout their years of practice and pushed to their physical limits while doing so.
Evie said, “they basically get us to our breaking point and that’s where the instructors assess whether or not we earn our black belt.” Although the aspect of knowing all the material is critical in receiving their belt, a student’s character is perhaps the most significant factor in determining their ability.
“Anyone can learn the material, but in order to be a black belt you need the character where you can push through a lot of pain and keep your head leveled,” she said.
Although she is anxious, Evie is fairly confident she will receive her black belt. As the test takes place in the middle of the two-week trip, the students will have time to enjoy themselves afterwards while exploring a new country.
Mrs. Cant said, “I’m deeply proud of her, it’s very well deserved.”
Although Evie has spent her life thus far engaging in multiple sports, arts and school, she has developed a deep respect and passion for karate.
“Karate has meant more to me than I ever could have imagined… Earning a higher achievement in something that isn’t the norm makes me feel secure and proud of myself,” she said.
After earning her black belt and following her musical passion to London, she intends to implement the valuable life lessons — respect, motivation and consistency – that karate has taught her into her daily life.
“It really has changed me physically and mentally,” Evie said.
Soon, Evie will be showcasing her martial arts dedication within the historic Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng China.