by Deanna Cheng in Vancouver
Karate practitioners from Saskatchewan and Quebec came to B.C. recently to compete at the Sato Cup Invitational Karate Tournament on Nov. 14.
Some competitors traveled from outside the country to test their skills. They came from places such as Japan, India, Grand Cayman Island and the Philippines.
They also came to pay respect to the tournament's namesake, sensei Akira Sato.
A karate master who often travels to teach at other dojos, Sato is an eighth-degree black belt who came to Canada in 1970. He founded his dojo in Vancouver with affiliated dojos across North, Central and South America.
Amid the cheering and sportsmanship, Vancouver showed off some of its local talents.
Darbyanh Lee Heenan, 16
Dojo: Odokan Kingsway Shito-Ryu Karate Club
This half-British, half-Chinese karate-ka has been training since she was eight years old. In her fourth year with the B.C. team, Darbyanh Lee Heenan uses karate to release the stress from homework and exams. "Since, in grade 11, grades really count."
The martial art instills a sense of discipline and calms her hyper personality.
Heenan's karate goal is to win gold at Karate Canada national championships in both free sparring and kata, a series of forms, techniques and transitions.
With school, she'd like to study dentistry, which is something she was interested in since she was a little girl.
"I really liked my dentist and saw him as an inspiration."
Evan Kwong, 19
Dojo: Vancouver Shito-Ryu
Evan Kwong has been with the B.C. team for the last five years and is on the national team roster.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) student finds karate helps develop him into a well-rounded person. "When I was younger, my biggest hurdle was difficulty getting onto the kumite (sparring) team. It was a big roster."
Going into a new division now (age 18 to 20), he's debating whether to take some time off to train for the international stage or head straight into it. When faced with better opponents, he's driven to beat them.
Kwong wants to medal at the Pan-American Karate Championships one day.
Nia Laos-Loo, 19
Dojos: Burnaby Mountain Karate, Nekkei Karate
This pink-tip-haired fireball was introduced to karate by her younger sister. "It was something to do together and my sister Claudia, and I have become best friends. She's my role model."
Even though Nia Laos-Loo has been training for two years, she's currently part of the B.C. squad.
"Karate is a chance for me to express myself. Before, I wasn't expressive. I wasn't sporty either."
The Simon Fraser University student is studying mechatronic in engineering and when she graduates, she wants to invent new things in software and mechanical engineering.
Dheva Setiaputra, 26
Dojo: University of British Columbia Karate Club
Dheva Setiaputra has been practising karate for the last two years. Before karate, he studied kendo, the Japanese martial art of the katana.
Karate makes him strive to be better. "You can tell when you improve."
The training mentality spreads to the rest of his life.
Setiaputra said respect is paramount within the martial art culture. "To competitors, colleagues. Everybody. You don't trash-talk anyone."
Arriving from Indonesia in 2000, Setiaputra is working on his PhD in biochemistry at UBC.
Re-published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.