Kyokushin Karate Alberta Open Kicks Up A Storm

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Story and Photos by Joel Belizario (ISN)

April 6, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – Karate practitioners from Alberta and BC gathered at Strathcona High School to compete in the 2013 edition of the Kyokushin Karate Alberta Open, hosted by the Edmonton Kyokushin Karate Club.

This year’s event saw competitors from clubs in Edmonton, Calgary, Stony Plain, Banff, and Dawson Creek make up 150 entries in kata (pre-arranged forms), non-contact fighting, and knockdown fighting. The majority of competitors were children and lower-ranking belts. “It’s a nice, non-threatening environment for people to get their first tournament experience,” said Michelle Gillespie from the Calgary club.

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Isabelle Godin of Calgary performs a kata in the 13 and over, white and blue belt division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

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Richard Barkman of Calgary performs a kata in the open division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

The morning kicked off with kata and the Calgary club made a strong showing, taking 11 out of 15 trophies while sweeping top honours in the 5 divisions being contested. Next up were the non-contact divisions, which featured the youngest competitor of the day at 4 years old. In this case, the large home contingent would dominate the standings and take 13 out of the 16 trophies available.

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Emma Alvarez of Edmonton throws a kick at her opponent in the 6-7 knockdown division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

The afternoon would signal the start of the knockdown divisions with the children wrapped heavily in protective equipment. As the day progressed, the contact would get harder and the amount of padding less. Starting with the 14-15 year olds, the gloves came off and the competitors were punching one another with bare knuckles and no upper body protection, except for a mouthguard and foam helmet.

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Competitors square off in the 10-11 knockdown division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

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Natalia Howat of Edmonton narrowly avoids a kick from Max Gillespie of Calgary in the 12-13 knockdown division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

Demonstrating that Karate is not just for the young, the senior men’s division (35 years and older) displayed strong fighting and included the oldest competitor of the tournament at 57 years of age.

The women’s coloured belt final stole the show, with Tilly DiPaolo (Calgary) and Lindsey Heenan Sneesby (Banff) coming up dead even after going to 2 extensions (3 rounds in total). Lindsey was awarded the referee’s decision by the slimmest of margins to take home the winner’s trophy.

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Ty Pecsi of Banff connects with a knee on Patrick Smith-Irvine of Calgary in the 14-15 knockdown division at the 2013 Alberta OpenPhoto by Joel Belizario (ISN)

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Tanner Berge of Dawson Creek blocks a kick in the men’s coloured belt knockdown division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

In the men’s coloured belt final, Tanner Berge (Dawson Creek) and Moustafa Zarandah (Stony Plain) pitted technique against size with Tanner giving up a considerable height and weight advantage. Both competitors fought to their strengths but two penalties called against Moustafa for illegal head contact would seal the win for Tanner.

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Tilly DiPaolo of Calgary and Lindsey Heenan Sneesby of Banff trade blows in the women’s coloured belt division at the 2013 Alberta Open – Photo by Joel Belizario (ISN)

The men’s open final was decided in seconds with Mark Fonda (Dawson Creek) knocking down Kyle Kalin (Calgary) with a well placed roundhouse kick. This would be the second consecutive year that the men’s open division closed out the tournament with a knockdown victory.

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Mark Fonda of Dawson Creek misses with a kick on Kyle Kalin of Calgary in the men’s open division at the 2013 Alberta OpenPhoto by Joel Belizario (ISN)

The event gave competitors an opportunity to compete, develop relationships with other club members and build on experiences from the recent Calgary Cup held on March 2nd. It is also one of the events leading up to the 30th Canadian Championships that will be held in Burnaby, BC on May 4th.

Kyokushin Karate was founded by the late Mas Oyama in Japan and is the most widely practised full-contact Karate style worldwide. Champions of the style have gone on to compete in professional fighting sports, such as kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

A full listing of results will be available at www.ekkc.ca.

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