Jamie Lim on A Woman’s Place In Karate

There Is Nothing The Mind Can’t Do: Jamie Lim on A Woman’s Place In Karate

Jamie wears a GUCCI jacket and shorts. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

After only five months of intensive training, Karateka champion Jamie Lim won the gold medal at the SEA Games. Her secret? Self-confidence and gratitude.

“That’s a boy’s sport, why are you still continuing karate?”

This is a question that Jamie Lim would be asked numerous times growing up, since the age of six. Truth be told, she also questioned why she had to do karate.

Now, the karateka champion is a multi-hyphenate achiever: two-time SEA Games gold medalist, Asian Karate Championships runner-up, Summa Cum Laude, Valedictorian, and Master’s Degree holder, among others. 

In hindsight, she was glad her parents never let her quit, even when all she would gain at first were losses. All her success, she attributes to their support and example. “They say when you get to the top, it takes a village, and that is so true,” she shares. “When I was young, I wasn’t good at karate or school. But because they were [what I saw every day], I learned to be like them: hardworking, disciplined, hungry for success.” 

The 27-year-old continues, “I had them to cry to, and it always made me stronger, and it always reminded me why I was doing it. It was for them, and it was for the country. And it was for something bigger than myself. So them being there is a constant reminder to do my best and be my best self and do it for others.”

Karateka Jamie Lim wears a RAJO LAUREL dress. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

It is this learned discipline, willpower, and gratitude that gave her the strength to catapult from four years off of karate to winning a gold medal in the SEA Games after only five months of intensive training.

“The mind can do so many things,” Lim shares, unabashed. The three-minute matches go by fast—anything can happen. But even when things got tough, Lim kept her feet planted firmly on the ground. “I really went into the SEA games confident and believing in myself. I really wanted [to win], and I wouldn’t take anything less than that.”

And her confidence is palpable. When Jamie Lim walks into a room, there is a certain grace to her step that makes the athlete hard to miss. Simultaneously poised and firm, she talks about a woman’s place in karate, which is widely known as a man’s sport. The martial arts discipline requires a physical toughening that many associate with masculine power. To this, Jamie counters: “We’re as strong as men. We can train with them, side by side.” 

The sparring itself can get very intense, she says. Punches, black eyes, bruises, fractures. “But we can do it because we want it.”

“I am the very opposite of [weak],” the champion continues. “Filipino women, we are very strong. Ang lakas ng loob natin, matatag, and strong in the mind that if we want something, we can do it.”

This month, Vogue Philippines pays tribute to stories of grit, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Below, meet more of the athletes who continue to shatter the glass ceiling of sports.


Vogue Philippines: July 2024 Issue

By BIANCA CUSTODIO, NANA CARAGAY, PATRICIA VILLORIA Photographs by MARK NICDAO Beauty Editor JOYCE OREÑA Fashion Director PAM QUIÑONES. Stylists: David Milan, Steven Coralde of Qurator Studio. Makeup: Angeline dela Cruz, Bea Mocorro, Janica Cleto, and Japeth Purog of Estée Lauder Philippines, Nadynne Esguerra. Hair: JA Feliciano and Kyle Velasco, Jessica Riva and Noel Muncada of Toni&Guy Philippines, Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Bookings Associate: Bianca Zaragoza. Beauty Writer: Bianca Custodio. Nails: Extraordinail. Photographer’s Assistants: Arsan Sulser Hofileña, Crisaldo Soco, John Phillip Nicdao, Villie James Bautista. Stylist’s Assistants: Geno Karlo, Kyla Uy, Ticia Almazan. Shot on location at Balay Kobo and Vogue Studios. Special thanks to VMG Asia
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