Martial Arts athletes from Terrace’s Shogun Dojo say they faced off against some of the stiffest competition they’ve come across yet at worlds in Richmond earlier this month.
But that didn’t stop them from fighting their way to the top of the podium and returning to Terrace with plenty of medals around their necks.
After qualifying at the Tiger Balm championships earlier this year, six athletes made the trip to the first annual TAFISA World Martial Arts Games Sept. 4-7, where they competed as part of Team Canada at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
“It was a really cool venue, probably the best venue we’ve ever been to for a tournament,” said sensei Rajan Sangha. “Everyone did awesome.”
Ju jitsu athlete Adrian Babcock topped the podium three times, winning gold in continuous, point, and Brazilian ju jitsu – the latter while competing in the 21 and over, 68 kilogram category because there was no one to compete in the 17-year-old division.
“He actually tapped a full grown man out in a minute-and-a-half,” said Sangha.
Babcock, who used to train with Shane Palahickey, said he didn’t know if he was ready to fight in the older division, but in the end it didn’t feel any different than what he’s used to.
“I felt a little rusty but as soon as I put on my gi and the ref said start, I felt comfortable,” said Babcock. “It comes naturally because I’ve been training ju jitsu for a while.”
Shawn Devcic, the youngest competitor, took home bronze in both kata and continuous, and silver in points fighting.
He said he “trained all summer” for the tournament, and when it was over the only thing going through his head was: “Eat.”
That might be because he was full of energy throughout the tournament, said Sangha. Energy that clearly paid off.
His older brother, Farren, channeled his energy into a bronze in kata and bronze in point fighting.
“His presence” was his strength, said Sangha. “The Olympic Oval is a really big room, so we told him before to be really loud when he’s doing his kata, and he was.”
Farren joked that it wasn’t hard for him to be loud because he’s “used to yelling at my brother.” He said he just tried to focus and keep going when he was fighting.
And Kaden Roy gained strength from a close point fighting match that saw him lose by one point in sudden death to fight his way to bronze in continuous fighting.
“In his continuous division semi-final fight, the judges went up to them and said these are the best two fighters in the division,” said Sangha.
“They got a lot of competition at this tournament, which was really good,” said Sangha. “We’ve never gone to a tournament where everyone had 12 or 13 guys (in their division).”
A medal wasn’t in the cards for Nick Yasinchuk, who drew his first fights of the day against the same athlete from Great Britain – a fighter who would go on to win gold – in point fighting and continuous, losing both by a close margin.
“The judge came in after the (continuous) fight and said ‘this should’ve been the gold medal fight,’” said Sangha. “It’s really unlucky arguably the best fighter in the division didn’t get a medal” but that’s the way the tournament was set up.
And Robbie Cline continued his win streak, taking home gold in kata and point fighting and silver in continuous.
“It was good going to such a big tournament,” said Cline. “I had a lot of family and friends that came to watch me. I’ve been training hard, seven days a week.”