“You can’t age out of martial arts,” says Sensei Amber Pipe. She’s seen competitors as old as 60, and is confident her students will carry the skills they learn at her dojo – and abroad in competitions – with them for the rest of their lives.
The competition experience is important, she says.
“They get to see that there are athletes just like them out there,” she says, of her karate and kickboxing students. “They make friends that they’ll stay associated with because of today’s social networking—and they’re healthy friends. That’s my biggest thing.”
Pipe teaches fitness classes in her dojo, for profit, but also runs a non-profit martial arts program where she acts both as trainer and mentor. Her program trains a number of youth for free and in return she asks them to commit to a healthy lifestyle, complete with a fairly rigorous training schedule – right now, leading up to nationals, her students are training five days a week for two to three hours a day.
“They have a place to belong,” she says, “No matter what age they are, and it’s not an elite team, anybody can do martial arts.”
The community has been a huge supporter of these athletes before, she says. Former student Dalton Stanvick “would not have made it to world’s twice, he went to Portugal and Spain, without donations from the community of Terrace.” And now she, and her fellow sensei Rajan Sangha, also known as one of the strongest players on the Terrace River Kings, are looking to the community to help fund the next batch of Daltons who are heading to nationals, in Ottawa May 17-19.
Six athletes, Nate Alexcee, Kyle Spankie, Shannon Murtonen and Raden Roy as well as Pipe and Sangha, who also compete, are heading to Ottawa after qualifying in Williams Lake earlier this month. And although only a handful of students are going, the majority of the Terrace squad did very well at provincials, especially considering that some students hadn’t been training very long.
“For all of them, I think the big thing is that they haven’t been training for that long and they went to provincials and they all pretty much won there,” says Sangha.
There are two types of fighting, continuous and point – in continuous, it’s exactly what you think, a couple of minutes of one on one fighting, similar to boxing with kicking.
Points requires a lot more training, says Sangha, who is a points fighter himself.
“Point fighting is a little different,” he says. “It’s more of a karate style so it’s more of a technical style of fighting where you have to use the technique to score a point first. It requires more speed and timing.”
To get the students ready for the competition, Pipe and Sangha have been running them through drills in order to correct some of the mistakes made at provincials. This means sparring, using the heavy bags, and cardio.
“We’re just trying to make them better, more well-rounded,” he says.
“A big thing for these kids is cardio, so being able to go for the full two minutes or four minutes is kind of the main focus. It’s the longest two minutes, especially when you’re trying to avoid being hit and trying to hit the other person yourself.”
All of the students have unique strengths, says Sangha – fitness, power, willingness to learn, discipline. And trips like this one help with team building and the students’ strengths rub off on one another, with them returning to Terrace more motivated and mature.
“They’re going to meet people who have been training since they were six years old,” says Pipe. “In Ontario, they do martial arts like we believe in hockey.”
The team has received donations from a number of community sponsors, including Bear Creek Contracting, Terrace Totem Ford, and Bob Erb, but are holding a garage sale this Saturday at 3704 Sparks to help raise more. The students have also been collecting bottles on the weekends.