Eugene Vincent and Connor Marschall have developed a strong bond in the last seven years.
Along with his wife, Silvana, Vincent runs Traditional Karate Winnipeg, which now runs community karate programs at Southdale Community Centre (254 Lakewood Blvd.), having recently shifted the program from a long-term tenure at Fort Garry Community Centre.
Marschall, 14, a Grade 9 student at J. H. Bruns Collegiate, has been studying under Vincent since he was seven and believes karate has played an integral part in his development from a boy to a young man.
And the Island Lakes resident is now encouraging other local youth give the program a try.
"Eugene is generous, nice, responsible and always there for you. He’s dedicated and knows his karate," said Marschall, who is a second degree brown belt. "We’re encouraging little kids to come and try it out. It’s hard at first, but it can really change your life in the long run."
Vincent, 41, a third degree black belt and software developer by day, said the program’s new location is a "big opportunity to develop karate in the community" as the centre serves a large catchment area.
The River Park South resident became involved with the sport at the age of 17 when he asked a high school friend, who had started a club in Lorette, Man., if he could train with him — and he hasn’t looked back since.
"I was an introverted kid and I was looking for something to get me out of my shell," Vincent said. "Part of karate is about how you can deal with stress and physical condition. When you look at the world today, it’s very technically-focused and you often spending your whole working day in front of a computer screen. I feel going to the dojo kind of relaxes me."
Vincent said he takes great pleasure in watching his students gain confidence and calmness, whether they are initially aware of the change or not.
"It’s easy to associate karate with fighting, but it’s all about character development. Going to the dojo takes you out of yourself and that’s what keeps me coming back to teaching or training. It’s also about confronting your fears. I used to be terrified of public speaking, but not anymore" Vincent added, noting he competed internationally for the Canadian team until 2006.
"Connor has always been quite disciplined, which is probably due to his parents. He’s very engaged and is persistent in his training. Even when he’s really tired, you see him pushing himself, whereas before you might have to give him a nudge."
Connor’s proud parents, Lorlie and John, have seen the tangible affects that karate has had on their son.
"Connor has gained great confidence performing in front of crowds, as he has done this at his karate tournaments. His confidence has grown and is displayed at church events and during past oral presentations at school. When he was younger, he played baseball for a couple of years and other people commented on the focus he displayed. This focus came from his karate training. Other kids could definitely benefit from this, too," Lorlie said.
"Eugene and Silvana are both wonderfully patient people with both the young ones and the adults. They are so diligent and caring about their students and their progress."
For more information, email traditionalkaratewinnipeg.com.