Karate students from all over the province will soon bring their martial arts prowess to Garden City.
Karate Manitoba will hold the Winnipeg Open 2013 — a karate tournament for all ages, skill levels and styles — on Sat., Oct. 26 at Garden City Collegiate (711 Jefferson Ave.) from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"We have events for white belts, yellow belts, orange belts, green, blue, purple and brown belts and then of course the most elite being the black belt," says Wendy Flannigan, 65, tournament director and chief karate instructor for the Westman Region.
"They’ll be doing kata, which is a routine of self-defence moves. The other portion of course is the sparring, or ‘kumite’ events.
"One of the events is the four to six-year-old group. We call them the Little Tigers. They’ll be doing sparring, kumite.
"They’re just darling. They wear chest protectors and there’s a target on their chest where they’re supposed to hit. It’s all to the chest area, so there’s no other contact. That’s got to be the cutest event of the whole day."
Yes, you’re never too young, or too old, to start practising karate. Winnipeg Open 2013 commissioner Angelo Mendoza says karate not only teaches self-defence and discipline, but also results in newfound confidence.
"I could give you many examples, but one in particular is I had this kid who was in Grade 8 and he was the shyest kid, always looking down," says Mendoza, 50, founder of Bushido-Kai Canada and coach of the Manitoba Provincial Karate Team.
"After one year of training with us, he was a different person. His chin was up. He was confident because now he had a skill."
Mendoza, a sixth-degree black belt, notes that while karate increases self-confidence and the ability to defend oneself, it also enables one not to fight.
"We train for self-defence. I say now that you have the skill, you don’t have to fight. You gain the confidence to deal with any situation.
"People say to me ‘You’re so well-trained, you can beat up anybody.’ Yes, I can, but I don’t want to, because I have the skills now. I’m able to say no, as opposed to people who engage in a situation and escalate a situation. In my situation, I do the opposite."
Mendoza was introduced to karate as a teenager in his home country of Nicaragua. He says the discipline karate teaches served him well when he moved to Canada in 1986.
"Coming to a different country is very challenging, but I always just reassure myself through the discipline that as long as I have a plan and I stick to it, I can achieve my goals," he says.
In addition to the tournament, Winnipeg Open 2013 features a judges clinic on Friday, Oct. 25 conducted by Zvonko Celebija, the chief instructor at Mississauga’s Global Karate Do.
Also, on Sun., Oct. 27 at 12:30 p.m.,
Dragan Kljenak, president of Karate Ontario, will present a "precision karate" workshop at Glenwood Community Centre (27 Overton St.).
The registration deadline for Winnipeg Open 2013 has passed, but anyone is welcome to watch the tournament portion of the event.
For more information, go to karatemanitoba.ca