Twenty students from the West Kildonan martial arts club will be participating in a tournament in Montreal from May 16 to 19.
"After participating in many martial arts tournaments here in Manitoba, our students will have the opportunity to participate in the 2003 Matsushima Challenge in Montreal," says James Bobby, spokesman for the club, located at 1560 Main St. "This is a dream come true for the children of the club."
During their stay in Quebec, the students will also be given the opportunity to attend seminars with masters Shihan Roman of Montreal and Kancho Yoshikazu Matsushima of Japan.
"I am really looking forward to the tournament," says 10-year-old Candi Cook, who will be accompanied by her mother.
The Grade 5 student at Wolseley School trains at the club about four times per week, and says she enjoys it immensely.
"I love coming here and I do it for the fitness," says Cook.
Wilson Da Silva, 17, has been taking karate for the past two years and has his yellow belt. Like Cook, he is extremely proud to be able to attend the tournament in Quebec.
"Karate raises your self-esteem and level of respect for yourself and it prepares you for life because its so disciplined," says the Grade 12 student at Daniel McIntyre High School, who hopes to become a psychiatrist.
Leo Anisceto, 11, says that he decided to take karate as a result of being the victim of an abduction attempt three years ago.
"A man tried to lure me into his van and I was very scared," says Anisceto.
The Grade 5 Holy Ghost School student says that karate instills a certain confidence in you and makes you feel less afraid and more competent that you can take care of yourself.
"I like the fitness and self-defence and it has raised my self-esteem quite a bit," says Anisceto
Maples Kyokushin Karate Club was founded three years ago by Mario Acuna, with the goal of teaching children confidence, discipline, self-defence and physical fitness.
"You can definitely see a change in students from the time they start to when they've been here for a while. Their confidence definitely increases," says Acuna.
He says that the Quebec tournament will be a great experience for all the students who are going. Some 200 competitors from clubs throught Canada and the U.S. are expected to participate.
"It will definitely be something they won't forget."
Bobby, who earlier had achieved a black belt in tae kwon do, says that his switch to karate was a natural progression.
"There are quite a few similarities between tae kwon do with respect to the patterns and blocks and the philosophy of respect and humility."
He says it was a little humbling to start at the very bottom again with a white belt in karate when he held a black belt in tae kwon do.
"But it's what you have to do. You have to work hard and earn your belt like everyone else," says Bobby, who will be competing in this weekend's tournament.
Bobby, who now has his blue belt in karate, says that he has gained immense confidence from the art of karate.
"I feel more confident in my physical abilities and fitness level, but I have gained a humility as well that goes along with the skills."
PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS