The Terrace Shogun Dojo continues to shine on the big stage, with sensei Amber Pipe and newcomer Shayla McKay recently qualifying for team Canada at the World Kickboxing/Karate Council Nationals.
The two women, along with veteran member Rajan Sangha, travelled to Quebec at the end of May for the event. Both girls placed third in their respective kickboxing divisions, meaning they will travel back to Quebec in the fall to represent team Canada at the world championships.
This year’s national event, held in Saint-Hyacinthe, a city outside of Montreal, was one of the largest tournaments Pipe had ever been to.
“There were seven or eight people to a competition,” she said. “It was good all around, heavy competition.”
Pipe attributes the large turnout to the fact that this year’s worlds are being held in Canada.
Last year’s world event was held in Spain.
Both women admit they weren’t at their top shape for the matches in Montreal — Pipe fought despite having a broken rib, and McKay was battling sickness all weekend — but neither were ready to give up.
“It was just eat, sleep, competition,” McKay said.
Although, the group did spend a day afterwards in downtown Montreal, shopping, walking around and celebrating.
“It’s the most fun place I’ve ever been,” said McKay.
This was McKay’s first national tournament ever — an orange belt, she has only been practicing kickboxing and karate since March of last year, and had only been to two competitions before heading east, one in Williams Lake and the other in Edmonton.
“The Edmonton tournament was actually really big,” McKay said, who took home two golds at the tournament. “I’m really glad it went.”
“Two of the girls I fought against [in Montreal] had twenty years experience — I’ve only had one,” she said.
“It was really scary, but fun. There were a lot of people.”
McKay got into karate and kickboxing while competing in Parkside’s Biggest Loser challenge. As she began to lose weight, she says she became more dedicated and joined karate and kickboxing under her mentor, Pipe, who is also a counsellor at Parkside.
“Karate teaches you discipline,” McKay said. “It’s good for kids.”
And McKay’s discipline paid off — she eventually won her school’s challenge, and to date has lost over 80 pounds.
“She’s come a long way,” said Pipe, who has known McKay since she was a young girl. “It just amazes me and makes me so proud. She’s like the daughter I wish I had.”
The pair have an intense summer of training ahead of them to prepare for world’s in October. If they keep it up, Pipe said, they’ll definitely be good to go to worlds.
Right now, McKay’s weekly regimen includes a minimum of three early morning workouts starting at 5:30 a.m., and night classes when she’s not working, about ten hours a week. She’s also started leading kick-bo classes.
“She’s an awesome instructor,” said Pipe.
McKay said karate and kickboxing will be a part of her life for a very long time. “I’m thinking of being a fitness instructor or a nutritionist, but I just graduated last week, so I have some time to make up my mind.”