Two Terrace martial artists earned solid victories at the recent Western Canadian Martial Arts Championships in Vancouver.
At age 19, Adrian Babcock seized the title as Grand National Champion in point fighting — a title which places him as the top of all the adult point fighters from all the different weight divisions at the tournament. There were 300 martial artists from across B.C. and Alberta at the annual event.
Besides capturing the title in SKIL point fighting and earning gold in his division, Babcock also obtained silver medals in both Brazilian jujitsu (gi grappling) and WKC continuous sparring and competed in the no gi grappling, where he didn’t place.
Nick Yasinchuk, age 16, captured two gold medals of his own, winning both in SKIL point fighting and WKC continuous sparring in the youth division.
Both Babcock and Yasinchuk have been in martial arts since childhood, and for the last number of years have trained and offered instruction at Terrace Shogundojo.
They shifted back and forth between competing and coaching each other at the Vancouver tournament Oct. 22, which proved to be a disorganized one-day event.
With no fights scheduled in the morning, Babcock says he battled through nearly 15 back-to-back fights in different categories over the course of the day. He was hardly aware of his losses and victories as he ran from fight to fight. Often double booked, he had Yasinchuk and another friend interceding with judges to keep him from being disqualified for being late, while he finished off fights in different categories.
After winning gold in his division of point fighting, Babcock was marshalled to battle for the title with all the other gold-winners from different weight classes in that type of sparring.
At 5’11’’ and 170 lbs, Babcock faced a similar sized opponent in his first grand national fight, winning 7-0.
That earned him a spot in the finals, where he was pitted against a striped blue belt who was slightly larger than him at about 6’1’’ and 180 lbs.
“I had actually fought him three years ago,” said Adrian. “He beat me 7-3 , but this time I beat him 8-2.”
That was the first of two fights in the best-of-three final, and Adrian went on to win the last one 7-1.
Yasinchuk, who was acting as his coach, said Babcock dominated with his speed.
“Adrian is really fast. The people he was fighting were pretty technical. They knew what to do, but they couldn’t quite compete with Adrian’s speed,” he said.
“It was good competition but Adrian has definitely fought tougher people. He did really well. He definitely dominated in his category.”
Babcock said that he felt really strong in all aspects of the fights.
“I stayed back at first, figured out how they like to fight,” he said, adding that as he felt out his opponent, they would get restless and attack.
“They get impatient and whenever they went in, I’d either do a spinning stop kick or a sliding back heel kick or a jumping back, back fist,” he said.
“I pretty much counter-fought and when I did go in, I was faster than them and they couldn’t really stop it.”
Adrian’s head coach Amber Pipe was not able to go to the tournament, but said that she was “elated with pride” at his results.
“He is truly a machine,” she said.
“Getting grand national champion in point fighting is the greatest accomplishment for him, because if I had to say that Adrian had a weak spot, it would be point fighting.”
Yasinchuk was also a top finisher at the tournament, fighting four times and conquering all of his opponents in both continuous and point fighting.
He said it was good to fight different people, but it wasn’t as competitive as he hoped it would be, with only a few contenders who seemed to have limited experience.
“But every tournament you go to gives you more experience, and the more experience you have, the better you will be,” he said, adding that he did have some good fights.
In the finals for continuous, he was pitted against an opponent who was 6’ and 210 lbs.
A bit outsized at 5’9’’ and 180 pounds, Yasinchuk said he wasn’t really intimidated because he is used to fighting larger opponents at the Terrace club.
“At the dojo, I fight (bigger guys like) Adrian and Robbie [Cline] and David [Low-Brady],” Yasinchuk said, adding that he’s been doing that since he was 12.
“Fighting bigger guys doesn’t bother me too much, if anything it’s what I’m used to,” he said.
Yasinchuk won both fights in the best-of-three finals and controlled all his fights, said Babcock.
In his final fight, Babcock said Yasinchuk was the clear victor.
“The guy couldn’t touch him,” Babcock said. “Nick dodged and weaved most punches, and just went in and out, in and out.”
Using an attack called teeing off, Yasinchuk repeatedly found openings and then assailed his opponent with a series of punches.
“He got way more hits in and was way more technical, where the guy just couldn’t handle it,” Babcock said.
Coach Pipe said she was proud.
“Nick’s strength is that he is only 17 but he hits like a full grown man,” she said, adding that he is humble, always smiling and represents the Terrace Shogundojo club well.
Up next for the club, a group is heading down to Miami to compete in the karate Pan American Internationals on Nov. 12. That group will include Babcock, Robbie Cline, Gavin Colongard and Amber Pipe.