Out of the six Terrace athletes who travelled to the World Karate and Kickboxing Council (WKC) National Championships in Ottawa earlier this month, four will be heading to worlds in Italy in the fall.
Rajan Sangha earned two Canadian National Champion titles, in both continuous and point fighting and Nate Alexcee is Canadian National Champion as well. Kyle Spankie and sensei Amber Pipe both qualified in their divisions.
Sangha, who also teaches as the dojo, “fought his heart out,” said Pipe, noting that she was particularly impressed because he’s spent more time teaching than training this year. Because of that, he had to cut weight for the first time ever – dropping seven pounds in the sauna before the event. But even though he was tired, Pipe said she has never seen him fight like he did at Nationals.
“He’s very humble, but he shouldn’t be,” she said. “He fought eight out of 10 minutes, it was awesome.”
And 17-year-old Alexcee’s win was equally impressive. With nobody in his weight category, Pipe arranged for him to move up a weight class so that he could experience the competition – and to the surprise of the judges, the president, and his competitors he took bronze in the higher weight class, which meant the judges awarded him the title in his category.
“He completely earned it,” Pipe said. “It was phenomenal… he was fighting black belts that were 20 pounds heavier than him.”
Spankie’s fourth place finish was in part the result of “the best straight punch I’ve ever seen,” said Pipe. “He did the cleanest straight punch and knocked one guy all the way across the mat – he landed in the coach’s lap. I’ve never had a student do that, ever.”
And while the other two athletes, 11-year-old Kaden Roy and 13-year-old Shannon Murtonen, didn’t qualify, they did get the experience of a big tournament, and are going to use the experience as motivation going forward.
Orange-belt Roy fought in a big division against young black belts. “He only lost by two points,” said Pipe, noting he was ahead at one point before nerves set in.
“He lost both of his fights in sudden death, which is amazing.”
And Murtonen, a 13-year-old black belt who also teaches at the dojo, had a very unique first tournament experience, as she competes in Kata, which she describes as a more technical, choreographed type of competition that’s “like fighting an imaginary opponent.”
She got on the mat with 26 other competitors, many of them seasoned veterans comfortable with the grunts and shouts that are typical to the practise – something she hasn’t started doing yet.
“It was really nerve wracking,” Murtonen said. “I think mine was the second to last kata so I had to wait a long time.”
And while she didn’t qualify, she was thrilled with the experience, and looks forward the many different styles observed at nationals before trying again next year. Now, the athletes are aiming to keep training all summer, attend camps in Edmonton, Calgary and spars in Smithers before heading to worlds in October.