It’s been a fall full of changes for the Shogun Dojo in Terrace – with a new location, new competitions, and new fighters on the mat.
And the team is proving that change is a good thing – seeing success at their most recent tournament in Burnaby and planning to hit more smaller competitions before nationals in June.
Six athletes, including coaches Amber Pipe and Rajan Sangha, headed to Burnaby last month for the Western Canadian Martial Arts Championship – and it being their first time at the competition, and a different style than they are used to, they had no idea what to expect.
“Usually we know who we are fighting against, so we train to fight against them, whereas this tournament we didn’t know who we were going to fight or what they were like, so it was a little different,” said Sangha.
“We spar more aggressive than they wanted us to fight down there… They were kind of looking at us when we were coming in there like, who are these guys?” said Robbie Clein-Matheis, who had a wild ride at his first ever competition – winning gold in his division and going on to win Grand National Champion. Even more impressive as he’d only been training for three months and was a white belt fighting brown belts.
“It was the coolest feeling,” he said, adding he battled hard with his nerves throughout the tournament. “It was definitely something else.”
He wasn’t the only one who performed well. Sangha took bronze in his category, and Pipe won gold – fighting despite a lingering knee injury.
Nathaniel Alexee, who has been training for six months, won a silver medal in point fighting. He said it took him a bit to get used to the lighter style of fighting at the competition. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said.
Nikolas Yasinchuk, who has been to a few competitions before, won bronze in continuous. “Nerves weren’t really affecting me,” he said. “I was just there to fight.”
And the dojo is settling into its new location – in the same neighbourhood as the old location, but a few floors up and with added perks, including a kitchen, a weight room and separated change areas.
“It’s smaller but we like it better,” said Sangha. “It’s more homey… There’s windows and it’s a lot brighter, the energy seems to be a little more positive.”