Karate Kids kick butt at local tournament

Saturday was all about white robes, coloured belts and judo chops for a large number of local youths who participated in a karate tournament at Bert Bowes Middle School.

The competition, which was hosted by Northern Tigers Shotokan Karate, was an event for all ages and all skill levels.

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"I think that all the students did very well," said Sensei and instructor Robert McGuire. "The spirit of the kids and the comradery is one of the great things about it. They all got it together outside of a classroom setting and in much more of an official [structure]. It was the first tournament for most of the kids who were there, including from the other clubs."

Children and teens from Fort St. John and Chetwynd competed in three types of competition throughout the day: kata (forms), sparring and team kata.

Grand Champion Kata was awarded to Kane Pittam, age 6, while Grand Champion Jr. for sparring went to Dyllan Best, age 7 from Chetwynd, and Grand Champion Senior for sparring went to Andrew Petersen, age 17.

Northern Tigers Shotokan Karate has between 40 and 50 students at the moment. The club has been hosting tournaments every other year for almost two decades, but being rather isolated from big cities means their karate competitions are restricted to the region.

"Basically we hold the tournaments because it gives the kids the chance to get experience and meet other students from other clubs," McGuire said. "This year a club from Chetwynd came in and brought several students."

"Being a smaller community, it's hard to go to Vancouver and Edmonton for the large tournaments that they have. We put this one on just to promote the brotherhood and try to give other small local clubs a chance to compete."

Fortunately for martial arts lovers in Fort St. John, more clubs are springing up around the region in places like Hudson's Hope and Tumbler Ridge.

Neither community sent competitors to Saturday's tournament, but McGuire hopes to see more clubs attending future events to experience other styles and have fun.

The Dawson Creek karate club is looking to host a competition this spring, and the Northern Tigers are hoping to send some of their athletes.

"We're definitely looking forward to it," McGuire said, "And we hope it's a good experience for everybody like we had at ours."

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