For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Canadian Karate Championships are returning to Red Deer.
On Saturday at Hunting Hills High School around 300 people will be in the community to compete in Alberta’s longest-running martial arts competition for its 42nd year.
Lyle Cheney, master instructor at Cheney’s Zen Karate and Kickboxing said when the event first began in 1979 it was the first of its kind in Western Canada.
“Years ago there were very few tournaments– there were maybe three or four opportunities a year to compete. Now there’s more opportunities, more tournaments but it’s known to be a good tournament, a very high level of competition and so it attracts some of the best we have,” Cheney said.
Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the competition will continue into the evening, featuring fighters from the age of five up to those in their 60s and 70s from Western Canada and sometimes the northern United States. Cheney explained it’s cheap for members of the public to attend at only $5 per person.
He added people are anxious to get back to having competition after being cooped up for the last three years.
“I know I’ve had a good response so far from the clubs we’re normally expected to have there as well as a bunch of new clubs that I’ve never met before. So, I think it’s going to be successful those are the early signs anyway,” Cheney said.
Those competing will spar and form against people their own age. The white through green belt is noncontact and blue through black is touch contact sparring.
He explained those in attendance will see martial arts fighting, light contact kickboxing, and Muay Thai, as well as empty hand forms, weapons forms, and musical forms. The black belt finals will begin around 4:30 p.m.
”This is an open tournament not just for karate. It’s for taekwondo, kung fu, kickboxing, just about everything,” Cheney said. “But there’ll be something for everybody all day. We start out in the morning with children with the lowest belts and then we progress up through the belt ranks.”