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30 UNDER 30: Toshi Uchiage, karate
High School: R.A. McMath
Had he not dedicated his energies to the martial arts, the “King of Karate” may well have pursued another passion—baseball.
“It’s something I used to do with my friends, but also because it’s a team sport—opposite to karate which is an individual sport,” says Toshi Uchiage, who last month earned a rare perfect score to win his sixth consecutive Canadian men’s karate title and 12th overall.
“To be able to lean on others when you falter a bit, and the camaraderie to push each other and help each other achieve a common goal is something I miss.”
But Uchiage is more than content to have focused on karate, an activity that has been a family tradition for generations. His dad Takeshi began training under his father Kenzo, and opened the Steveston Karate Club in 1973. Takeshi subsequently passed on his appreciation for the sport to his children—and Toshi and his sisters Hidemi and Sumi have continued to compete at a high level and won several honours in the kata and kumite disciplines.
Toshi began competing at the Canadian championships when he was only 15, and a year later won his first national title. At 17, he became the youngest Canadian to ever compete at the senior world championships and two years later, in 2004, won a bronze medal at the worlds in Monterrey, Mexico. A burning desire to become world champion continues to motivate him.
Inspiration?: “My mother. She was an active member on the Japanese national team when she decided to get married and make the move to Canada. Not only (did she) sacrifice what she did in terms of giving up her days as an athlete, but to support and take care of her family.”
Most proud of?: “There have been several highlight moments, but I would have to say I’m most proud of my longevity and consistency in performance and results at the Canadian national championships.”
Advice for others?: “No matter what you do, always remember the reason why you started and to never forget the feeling you had when you decided to take the first step down the path you chose.”