The 2017 Island Open Taekwondo Championships that was held last weekend at Oceanside Place did not disappoint.
The annual event that has become a favourite among taekwondo practicioners, especially for those who live on the island, was a success.
It showcased intense sparring competitions as well a remarkable discipline, camaraderie and good sportsmanship.
The Cascadia Martial Arts Parksville organized-event drew around 210 athletes from all over the Island and also from the Mainland.
Master Brett Fee indicated they are pleased with the turnout. It was just the right size for the tournament, which he said, technically is in its eighth year.
The goal, Fee explained, is to provide a good experience especially for local Island athletes and officials, who find it expensive to compete in the mainland.
“A lot of those in the sport that has been around for a long time see the value of supporting the tournament because way back there was nothing for us here,” said Fee.
“Some of the new people, I don’t want to call them spoiled, but they don’t know the history of taekwondo and martial arts on the Island. So they don’t appreciate what we’ve been through to get to this point. But having said that, there are also a lot of people who are keen to jump on board and support it.”
The local Cascadia club fielded more than 70 competitors in the tournament. Among them are three impressive juniors, Shelby Bell, Rebecca Marshall and Kai Watts, who are preparing to compete at Canadian Junior Taekwondo Championships next month in Calgary.
Fee said the tournament also served as a tune-up for those who heading to the nationals that is happening on May 25-28.
“This is the highest level of competition in Canada for athletes of their age categories,” said Fee.
Bell, Marshall and Watts got the experience that they needed as they were tested to the limits in some of their fights. They all collected gold in their respective age groups in KP7P official black belt sparring.
A few highlights for Cascadia included youngsters Dominique Jeffrey, 9, and Simon Mbobela, 10, who each took home two golds in sparring and poomsae, which is fighting patterns.
One of the highlights of the tournament was the new KP&P electronic protector scoring system that was used in the black belt sparring. The latest technology is helping competitors become more precise and accurate with their kicks. To score, they must hit the chest protector hard and clean to trigger the electronic scoring system.
Sherman Campbell, who is one of Cascadia’s top senior competitors, likes the new equipment.
“It makes it even for both the players,” said Campbell, who has fought with it at the Canadian Senior Taekwondo Championships in Calgary. “It helps us know if we scored or not. In the traditional system, sometimes when you block the kick, they would score. Now with this new technology it eliminates the uncertainties and also forces us to fight harder when we know that we didn’t get the point after executing a kick.”