BY ZACHARY CORMIER
Last month was a successful one for the students at Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing, as they picked up a number of medals at the Western Canadian Karate Championships in Red Deer.
“It was good. All of our students did really well. Our biggest goal is for our students to go and see and gain some experience from competing,” said Sensai Michael Roe, one of the instructors at Lacombe Karate.
Roe said that part of the reason the students compete in tournaments like the Western Canadian Championships every year is to hone their skills and improve.
“That’s how, as a martial artist, you can get better and you can improve your skills is by going against other people from other clubs.”
Collectively, the students at the club, who range in age from six to over 35, came away from the annual year end tournament with more than 40 medals, an impressive showing to say the least.
“That’s the most rewarding thing is when you put your hard work and your time into teaching these young students and you see it pay off and they all did well. It’s very rewarding,” Roe said.
Students who attended the tournament competed in a variety of events that ranged from sparring to Kata (or form) events and even kickboxing.
“We have our forms division, which is a Kata division, so every belt level has a specific form, so they compete in that one, as well as sparring, which is the point system,” Roe explained, adding the sparring division is a little more like actual combat but there are no serious blows landed.
“We often call it kind of an adult game of tag. There’s no face contact, it’s very light back and forth,” he said.
The winner of these sparring contests is determined by points that are awarded as the competitors spar with each other.
Roe said the Western Canadian Championships tournament is a good way to end off the year for many of the students that take the summer off of practicing karate.
“It’s one that we like to end off our season with. Some of our kids travel, you can go to Edmonton, Calgary, you can go as far as travelling to Ottawa for nationals and if you get past that you can travel further to worlds wherever they end up hosting those,” he said.
Roe, who himself came away with a bronze medal in the Black Belt Men 17 and over sparring competition, said seeing his students compete at the championships is rewarding because of the improvement that he sees throughout the year.
“Even from the time that some of these guys have started with us, you see improvement from strength and conditioning to their skills and how they get better and whether it be kicking or their forms. Overall you see large improvements in your students and growth.”
The competition season in many martial arts runs from early spring through to the end of May, Roe said. He also noted some students choose to practice all year round but most take the summer off to relax and unwind.
Students spend most of their time during the season practicing and honing their skills in order to prepare for competitions and generally improve as martial artists.
“Throughout the year we’ve just been fine tuning all of our skills and all of the students have been learning new things just so they can improve their skills. Then from there we can put them into work. You can go and try to do things that you’ve learned and see how you do against other students.”