A group of seven karate students from Smithers recently competed at the World Karate and Kickboxing Council’s World Championships in Cadiz, Spain. Two returned home with medals, including Robert Henry and Liza Ramos, who earned so much hardware that airport security did a special search of her bag to discover that the big black spot on their screen was actually four medals from the competition.
Also competing were Bronwyn Hobson, Riley and Jake Tchida, Tareq Abu Khadra and Martin Roberge. A number of other fighters from Shogun Dojo branches around northern B.C. also attended the competition, under the coaching of Shogun’s head instructor Marwan Abu Khadra, who also coached Team Canada.
Marwan said his students worked hard all year in preparation for first the provincial, then the national and finally the world championships, both in their martial arts training and in fundraising to cover some of the costs of travelling to Spain. The fighters that earned a spot on Team Canada trained six or seven days a week coming up to the World Championships.
“Training was very intense,” he said. “They went through hell.”
He said he saw the results of all that training, with Ramos missing one gold medal by a single point, and Roberge just barely missing out on a bronze medal.
“I went there feeling very well prepared,” said Roberge.
Ramos agreed, saying “Renshi [Marwan] prepared us physically, we were all in top shape. The question was if we were ready mentally.”
Judging by her results, Ramos was ready, winning a bronze medal in Point Fighting Veteran Women and Kata/Forms Veteran Women, as well as a Silver in Point Fighting Women and Light Contact Women. Henry won a bronze medal in Light Contact Men fighting.
As with many sports in northwestern B.C., a lack of competition experience can make a huge difference, especially at the world stage. Roberge pointed out that most of the fighters they competed against have regular opportunities to spar with new competitors.
“Those guys get competitions every weekend, and we get maybe four a year,” he said. “It speaks a lot for the training we’re getting if we can match up against those guys.”
Ramos said much of her inspiration and motivation came in the form of encouragement from family, friends and co-workers.
“I was quite touched by the amount of people that believed in me,” she said.
Roberge agreed, and both pointed to support and donations from the community to help sponsor the team’s travel as an incredible boost to the team.
“I was very touched by the generosity of all our donors,” he said.
The athletes at Shogun Dojo are already in training again, as they look forward to a chance at applying what they learned this year at the 2012 World Championships in Montreal.