Bryce MacKay had a golden performance against bigger and stronger opponents in the Calgary Cup Karate Championships March 12.
MacKay, five-foot-six, 135 pounds, said he fought well and was in his best shape ever as he won the knockdown men, 15-18 years, lightweight division. He is used to fighting bigger and stronger opponents. One of his opponents had six inches and about 15 pounds on him.
“Bryce excels at every tournament he participates in because of his hard work and dedication,” said Penticton Kyokushin teacher Brent Parker. “The kid’s a phenom. He never loses. The kid is such a dialled-in young man.”
MacKay felt nervous going into the Calgary Cup because he didn’t know anything about the people he was against. He focused on staying calm. After what he accomplished, MacKay said he feels he gained a lot of respect from other teachers and opponents. MacKay picked up the Top Spirit Award and Best Technical Fighter for the tournament.
The 17-year-old didn’t know how to react when he found out he was receiving those awards.
“After I talked to the head guy (of Kyokushin organization) they were talking about sending me over to Montreal and down in New York to do some tournaments there. I could get noticed more and maybe go to a world tournament,” said MacKay. “I didn’t know what to think. I was shocked. I could barely talk.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to do those things,” MacKay continued. “To me it was really nice to have those head guys of the organization start noticing me. It just felt really good.”
Parker said he wasn’t shocked his student earned those awards. Parker thinks the reason MacKay was chosen for the Top Spirit Award was from taking two shots to the groin. The officials were going to disqualify the fighter, but MacKay didn’t want that. He asked for a moment to regain himself to finish the fight.
“He could have said I’ve had enough, but that’s the kind of athlete he is,” said Parker, adding MacKay is so focused, talented and possesses drive.
MacKay started in karate at age seven and started competing in 2008, at age nine.
“I love how physically intense it is,” he said. “It teaches you a lot about yourself and it’s about pushing yourself to your limit and past that. It just helps you overcome things in every day life. It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle too.”
Parker described MacKay as a natural.
“These guys don’t come along very often where he is that young and that focused,” said Parker.