Twenty-four-year-old Castray, a Filipino-Australian, was 10 when she joined the vaunted Red Rangers to take up sikaran, under 8th dan instructor Jesse Diestro, at the team’s training gym in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Campsie.
Her mum and dad Christina and John had moved their daughter from doing taekwondo.
“Pia immediately demonstrated a natural talent for the martial arts,” Diestro recalls. “So I put in more time for her development as she moved up the ranks.
“It was a pleasure to teach her, a quick learner. Pia would take up any challenge, even holding her own when sparring against much older and experienced opponents, even boys.”
At 14, Pia became NSW age point-sparring and kata champion, and at 17 she won the Australian national women’s open championship.
“I took her overseas with a Red Rangers team to compete in Canada’s prestigious national Golden Boy sikaran-arnis open women’s titles, and she returned with championship trophies in both sparring and kata.”
She was grand champion at the International Sports Karate Association’s World Cup which brought together the best martial artists from Ireland, New Zealand, Korea, Egypt, Nepal, Fiji, India, and Australia.
Indeed, in her early 20s, Pia became recognised as Australia’s undisputed queen of sports karate in Australia.
Upon earning her 1st dan black belt, Pia became one ofiestro’s training assistants as she continued to train for grading to 2nd and 3rd dan.
She did film work: Played the role of Talia Al Ghul in an independent Australian short film of ‘Catwoman’ directed my Josh Newman, was in the cast of Red Herring produced by Retro Future Films and directed by Jim Robison and Kurt Martin, andwas featured in Katana Flow, music video by ShaoDow Music,
That was what Pia did for pleasure.
Her education and occupation involved completing bachelor of commerce degree at Macquarie University, qualifying into the Institute of Chartered Public Accountants, and doing a Television presenting skills course at the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the Sydney Actors Foundation.
Immediately after university, she was employed at Alleasing as a business development officer and then associate, followed by a job as account manager at FlexiGroup Ltd.
Last May, Pia joined British Airways and moved to London.
“My parents have been a huge driving force behind my successes,” Pia said. “They have encouraged me from the very beginning, supported every decision I made.
“My parents are my biggest fans and were always ringside when I competed. My parents are so proud of me and I love them so much.
Pia said she loved being on screen. “All of those roles stemmed from my martial arts background.
“I am a creative person, and performing in film and on screen I can really engage my creative side and put together amazing fight scenes with lots of dynamic elements.”
At first sight, she would look like a pushover with good looks, a disarming smile, laid-back manner, gentle touch, and humble disposition.
But don’t mess around with Pia Castray.