15-year-old Owen Gadiano poses for a picture at the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

15-year-old Owen Gadiano poses for a picture at the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

‘Martial arts is definitely the way to go’: Competitors meet in Red Deer for karate championships

Red Deer resident Owen Gadiano explains his passion for martial arts at the Western Canadian Karate Championships

Competing in karate can be a huge adrenaline rush and also nerve-wracking, but the moment you step in the ring and you’re focused all you hear is silence.

That’s what 15-year-old Owen Gadiano of Cheney’s Zen Karate and Kickboxing told the Advocate at the 42nd Annual Western Canadian Karate Championships on Saturday.

“It’s all about focusing on the task at hand and it’s just trying to do my best not focusing on little mistakes I may have made but forget the past and just keep on moving forward,” he said.

Gadiano competed in forms and sparring during the day-long event at Hunting Hills High School. He’s been involved in martial arts for eight years taking after a few family members who also do karate.

“My uncle, he has a studio in Calgary they’re here today. I’ve just always been appealed to martial arts when I was young, especially when I watch Kung Fu Panda or something like that. I’m like ‘oh I want to do that when I’m older,’” Gadiano said.

Many of his cousins are also involved in the sport and Gadiano explained many are black belts.

“It’s always nice to have things in the family,” he added.

Not only does he compete locally but has also represented Alberta in national tournaments where he won bronze in sparring, and hopes to represent Canada in the world championships. The born and raised Red Deer residents trains at the dojo six times a week to hone his craft. He explained he’s passionate about the sport because he’s a thrill-seeker.

“I’m a thrill-seeker, I like exploring, and I like taking risks. Karate, it just had that little click for me when I joined and it hasn’t gone away since,” he added. “If you’re looking for something that you want to do, something you want to be passionate about, martial arts is definitely the way to go.”

Gadiano was just one of approximately 300 competitors in Alberta’s longest-running martial arts competition. This was the first time it’s been held since before the pandemic and it showed as spectators filled the stands. Those involved ranged from 5 years old to those in their 60s or 70s.

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Kids take part in the sparring aspect of the event. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Kids take part in the sparring aspect of the event. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

One young competitor receives a medal for his performance at the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

One young competitor receives a medal for his performance at the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Athletes from ages five all the way to 60 or 70 years old competed in the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Athletes from ages five all the way to 60 or 70 years old competed in the Western Canadian Karate Championships. (Photo by: Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)