Williams Lake’s Cianna O’Connor takes on Smithers’ Anaise Labonte in a point fighting contest Saturday during the WKC Provincial Championships at Columneetza secondary.

Williams Lake’s Cianna O’Connor takes on Smithers’ Anaise Labonte in a point fighting contest Saturday during the WKC Provincial Championships at Columneetza secondary.

Locals medal at WKC provincials

Williams Lake martial artists were impressive Saturday at the WKC Provincial Championships, held at Columneetza secondary.

Fifty martial artists from around the province stormed the Columneetza gymnasium Saturday where the World Karate and Kickboxing Council Provincial Championships took centre stage.

Athletes competed in kata, team kata, point fighting and continuous fighting throughout the day with multiple berths at the WKC National Championships on the line.

From Williams Lake 23 local Shogun Martial Arts Academy students took part, joining martial artists from Smithers and Terrace for the event.

Divisions in each event were determined by gender, age and weight — not by belt level — and competitors ranged from six years old to a 42 and over division.

“Of the 50 that competed almost all of them competed in more than one event,” said Williams Lake Shogun Martial Arts Academy Sensei Lee-Ann Lainchbury. “Some competed in all four, and went all day from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.”

From the Williams Lake dojo, 21 competitors medalled. The top four in each division qualify for nationals; however, competitors under eight years old are not allowed to attend.

“Everyone improved a lot,” Lainchbury said.

“Every year the level of competition increases. From year to year we see a big difference in the competitors in terms of their abilities — they’re a lot more polished and have more experience.”

On top of the martial arts events a Capoeira demonstration took place at noon — a Brazilian martial art developed by slaves to practice the discipline while not alerting their captors.

“It was used by slaves to keep practicing without their captors realizing they were doing fighting training because it looks like dancing and is done with drums and a berimbau (a single-stringed instrument).”

The WKC nationals go in Montreal over the May Long weekend. Lainchbury said the leap in the level of competition is a big step, and one local competitors will be preparing for.

“Almost everyone there will be a black belt, or a brown belt,” she said, adding Eastern Canada, especially Ontario, has lots of opportunities for its athletes to compete at tournaments. “Some will have national titles and some will have world titles. Pretty much every weekend there’s an opportunity for them to compete.”

Renschi Marwan Abu Khadra, head of the WKC and coach of Team B.C., said he expects the province will have strong representation at nationals.

“I think the team will be a little stronger than last year,” he said. “Our province will be represented by about 40 to 50 people there, so we’ll be strong, and we hope to have some qualifiers for the world championships following that.”

Lainchbury said the Williams Lake Shogun Martial Arts Academy would like to thank the Williams Lake Wrestling Club for the use of the mats, the Columneetza secondary teachers and principal, School District 27 and all of the volunteers that helped with the tournament.

The following are the local Williams Lake Shogun Martial Arts Academy results, grouped by age.

Children: Raiden Lainchbury — gold point fighting, gold continuous fighting; Macy Lainchbury — gold point fighting, bronze kata, bronze team kata; Adanna Nustad — gold point fighting, bronze team kata; Leah Blokland — gold point fighting, bronze team kata; Brityn Hinsche — bronze point fighting, bronze team kata; Cianna O’Connor — silver point fighting; Isaac Shoults — gold point fighting, alternate for kata; Gabrielle Nustad — alternate for kata; Brianna Fisch — silver kata; Eric McAfee — silver point fighting.

Youth and Adult: Cody Nunn — gold continuous fighting; Cole McColl — silver continuous fighting; Steven Holbrook — bronze continuous fighting; Katharina Koppe — gold continuous fighting; Abrie Killian — gold point fighting, gold kata, silver continuous fighting; Josy Doucette — silver continuous fighting; Wes Nustad — gold continuous fighting, silver point fighting, bronze kata; Glen Rogers — bronze continuous fighting; Tanna Lauriente — gold point fighting, gold continuous fighting, silver team kata, bronze kata; Laura-Lee Lauriente — gold continuous, silver team kata, bronze kata; Carl Lam — gold point fighting, gold continuous fighting, gold kata; Haley Fisch — gold kata.