Teenage Ukrainian brothers who escaped the ongoing war in their homeland will teach Central Alberta youths martial arts this weekend.
Bohdan and Vova, who are 15 and 16, respectively, will lead a seminar this Saturday at Arashi-Do Martial Arts in Red Deer.
“I can’t say enough good things about them,” Arashi-Do owner and instructor Gary Vig said of the Ukrainian brothers.
“They’re really hard working kids and they have a great attitude. It’s great to see them here and safe, and hopefully flourishing. If there’s anything we can do to help them out, we’re looking forward to it.”
The two got to Red Deer earlier this year and began training with Vig about two months ago.
“Unfortunately their English isn’t great yet, which is to be expected because they’re from Ukraine. But they are picking it up,” he said.
“I’ve been telling my younger (students) that if they train really hard, the sky is the limit. I’ve been referencing Bohdan and Vova quite a bit.”
Having the Ukrainian brothers host a class will help integrate them into the local martial arts community, said Vig.
“It’ll help them practice their English and show everyone what they can do,” he said.
Vig said the brothers are “extremely talented” martial artists.
“Sometimes you’ll have people tell you about their experience and when you look at them, you don’t necessarily see it. But with them, you can see they’re extremely polished and seasoned,” he said.
“I’ve worked with kids who may be better strikers or may be better submission guys … but in terms of their all-around skillset, they’re the best I’ve ever seen (at their age). They’re at an elite level.”
Vig said both are Ukrainian-level champions and European champions in combat sambo, while Vova, the older brother, is a world champion.
“Combat sambo’s not very big around the world, but it’s very big in Eastern Europe … and it’s pretty competitive,” he said.
Vig described combat sambo as a “Russian Judo.”
“There are some modified rules for juniors, but it’s pretty much MMA, like what you’d see in the UFC,” said Vig.
“They wear headgear and I believe in juniors they don’t do ground and pound, but with standup they’re doing pretty much full kickboxing and their throws. Then on the ground they’re doing their submissions.”