More than 300 martial arts athletes from Alberta, Saskatchewan and parts of B.C. tried to kick their way to medals at the 40th annual Western Canada Karate Championships in Red Deer.
Lacombe Zen Karate and Kickboxing’s Kaden Moen, 12, was one of those athletes competing in Saturday’s event at Hunting Hills High School. He took home a bronze medal in sparring.
Moen said he was a bit nervous when he started karate.
“It was scary at first, but after I finished second in my first tournament I was pretty cool about it,” he said.
Moen said he has a ton of fun in competitions.
“I get to punch people without getting in trouble,” he said with a laugh.
Red Deer’s Lily Bellerive, 12, won a gold medal in sparring and a silver medal in Kata at the event.
“I was nervous at first,” she said. “But I just listened to my instructors and pushed through it.”
Bellerive, a student at Black Dragon Martial Arts and Fitness, has been doing martial arts for two years.
“I love that you always work as a team,” she said.
Master Instructor Lyle Cheney, who has organized the championships for 31 years, said the event went very well.
“Every year gets a little bit smoother. Pretty soon it’ll run itself,” he said.
Between his studios in Red Deer, Lacombe and Calgary, Cheney had about 150 students competing. There were some very good competitors from across Western Canada, he said.
“They’re very skillful – these are the future world champions. Many people have come through this competition and become professional fighters and world champions,” he said.
Cheney said the competition, which has athletes between the ages of five and 65, has become more popular with children over the years, but a little less popular for adults.
“Perhaps it’s gotten a little bit smaller in size, but it’s better in quality now,” he said. “It’s open to all different styles of martial arts; karate, kickboxing, Tai Kwan Do, kung fu – many different styles are represented here.”