By Jasmine Franklin
St. Augustine school will be the spot for competitors of all ages to test their karate technique at this year’s provincial tournament March 27.
“This competition, held yearly, is a stepping stone for black and brown belts to the nationals,” said karate instructor Bill Houghton. “For the younger levels it is a learning ground for them.”
The Battle River Karate Club will host the tournament held in Ponoka this year. Houghton expects around 150 competitors — just about half the numbers from 2000.
“With the way the economy has been, we have dropped in numbers,” he said. “Last year we saw about 175 people so we are expecting around the same.”
Taking place at St. A’s, registration will take place from 8 to 10 a.m.; only members of the International Shotokan Karate Federation of Canada can sign up for the event.
“This is a great way for the students to meet people outside of the club,” Houghton said. “They train hard all year long and get to show their accomplishments to an audience.”
After registration, matches will begin and winners will progress to the afternoon rounds. Finalists from the afternoon will likely be black and brown belt holders Houghton said and will advance to the national competitions.
The spectrum of talent and experience ranges from six years old with white or yellow belts to some 40-year-olds with black belts.
Houghton himself is a fourth degree black belt who took second place in the kata category at nationals in 2009.
“This competition (provincials) give a different level of understanding of karate to the students,” he said. “It’s just a great art form and great form of exercising.”
David Jones, head judge and seven-degree black belt out of Calgary, will attend the competition, something Houghton said is a great honour for the club.
“He is just an awesome and amazing fellow,” Houghton said. “We are very fortunate to have him judging with us.”
Karate is a form of martial arts that embodies kicking, punching and open-hand techniques. Houghton explained the two main categories of karate: kata, a technique category focusing on kicks, blocks and strikes that demonstrate power and speed; and kumite, essentially sparring in karate, that is controlled by instructors so the students can learn in a safe environment.