Three Terrace brown belts are kicking with renewed vigour, aiming for another shot in the international kickboxing tournament in Ireland.
Satisfied that they put up a good fight in this year’s Ireland tournament, the Terrace shogun dojo team has a new drive and higher standard to aim for.
“I saw the calibre of the fighters down there, and I’m in range of becoming as good as them or better,” said Jenna Hoornenborg, one of three fighters who went to Ireland early this month.
It has given a “drive and hunger to keep on training… enhance all of my techniques and make them better, cleaner, faster, stronger,” she said.
Coach Rajan Sangha said that he did not expect the Terrace fighters to win at what is the largest martial arts tournament in Europe, but they went for the experience.
“It was good to have every one of them lose… if you get in there and you can compete and you’re within range of winning, then you come home and it’s like ‘okay, I just need to work a little harder now, I need to train more,” Sangha said.
Co-coach Amber Pipe added that they have been pushing the athletes to train hard for the last year, but winning gold repeatedly was not motivating them.
“Everywhere we take these guys they come back with golds… so they got to that point where they wouldn’t listen,” she said. “They hadn’t seen it… now they know what’s out there.”
As they train with renewed fervour, they aim to compete in Ireland again next year.
Hoornenborg, Adrian Babcock, and Robbie Cline, all competed in multiple categories at the Kickboxing Irish Open tournament, doing both point fighting and continuous.
Robbie Cline was the first to fight, but was late and nearly disqualified due to crowds, inexperience, and lack of information about required gear.
Coach Pipe said the centre judge was flexible since they were new, but the judges who determine the results wanted to disqualify him and then seemed to penalize him with a loss.
“He lost to the judges because they wanted to disqualify him, [but] he clearly won,” Pipe said. “He kept control of the fight. His technique was clean. He threw and landed more kicks than his opponent.”
Sangha added that his Great Britain opponent was chasing Cline to try to hit him the whole fight.
“Robbie landed the side kick a couple times, landed the roundhouse… his movement was awesome… his opponent was just chasing him and he didn’t hit Robbie. He literally could not hit him,” Sangha said. “He may have looked more aggressive in the last minute [when both fighters were tired], but I don’t remember one clean punch where the guy landed a good clean shot.”
In the point fighting, Cline fought two strong matches and kept the score close, but lost to two more experienced opponents.
Hoornenborg, age 15, fought all her three fights on Saturday, March 5. She started with a continuous fight in the age 18 and up category with three competitors, where she fought full-contact for the first time (in a cage instead of a ring and with no regulation on the strength of hits). She placed third of three but earned silver by default after the second place fighter did not show up for her medal.
Though she lost her fight, Hoornenborg feels good about it, having rivalled a multi-champion from Walsh and lost by split decision (with one judge saying she won, two saying it was her competitor).
“It was scary. She was bigger, she was intimidating… I’ve never fought somebody who actually wanted to take my head off,” said Hoornenborg.
She took a side kick to her face right off the bell, but it served to wake her up and engage her in the fight, she said.
“I felt in control [of my game] most of the fight. Even when she was coming at me… I didn’t turtle or cower away. I moved, tried to get out of the way and defend… I felt good about it. I’ve never done it before so I wasn’t expecting to do as good as I did,” said Hoornenborg.
“I want to do more full contact. It was brutal, but I could take it, so now I will train harder for it…”
After that she switched into point fighting, where she fought in two weight classes and lost both by a few points.
“They were definitely better [competitors]. You could tell they had more experience, just by the different techniques they used. They were more advanced,” Hoornenborg said.
Adrian Babcock had a similar experience in point fighting, putting up a strong fight but losing by two points in both matches.
He also fought two continuous matches, and the first was a very even fight, resulting in a tight loss against a Great Britain competitor, where Sangha and Pipe said the judges’ decision was contestable.
“But Adrian handled it really well… He was not on the top, but [was] still behaving like a champion,” Pipe said.
Babcock’s second fight was in a larger weight class, and he was dominated by a much more advanced fighter from Italy.
“He came out of that saying, ‘okay, I got more work to do,’” Pipe said, adding that all the Ireland competitors were eager to train the day after they got back to Terrace.
Pipe said the other benefit of the tournament was taking in a point fighting seminar, taught by the USA All Stars and pro fighter Raymond Daniels.
Pipe said she was excited to come home with fresh knowledge to use in all their Shogun dojo training.
Next up for the competitive athletes is a Western Open provincial tournament in Edmonton April 9, and an international Mexico Open tournament on Sept. 2-3.