A variety of martial arts skills will be on display in Elmira this weekend as a local club hosts the 34th Canadian Annual Naha-te Goju Karate (CNGK) tournament.
More than 100 martial artists of all ages and experience levels from all across Ontario will compete at Riverside PS Sunday in the event hosted by Elmira Karate Dojo and Elora Karate Dojo.
“We have students that are as young as five participating, and we have students that … our oldest one is in his late-50s; he will be participating as well,” said organizer and martial artist Barb Lamble. “We do have quite a range of people. We have students that are pretty much beginners with less than a year of training experience, and then we’ll have black-belt level students competing as well.”
Students will be evaluated on their performance on a scale from 1-10. The marks are added to throughout the day – competitors with the highest scores will earn themselves medallions featuring the CNGK symbol … and bragging rights.
Participants will try their hand at non-contact sparring, and performing a kata, a detailed, choreographed pattern of movements that are generally practiced to memorize and perfect the action being executed.
“If you pick a kata that’s more exciting to see, that might get better marks than a kata that’s a little less exciting,” said Lamble. “So something that’s really dynamic – lots of kicks, and kyah’s tends to do better than one that’s maybe not quite so exciting.”
While the atmosphere is generally friendly and inclusive, Lamble noted that things tend to get a little more spirited in the higher rankings.
“I would say it’s a mix. The black belt division tends to be a little more competitive,” said Lamble. “We tend to go a little harder with each other as black belts than the sort of lower ranks do.
“I really like the camaraderie that we have with the different schools. I would say our tournament is known as a friendly tournament. Every dojo has its own unique way of presenting their art.”
The tournament has been hosted consistently in Elora, because the tournament’s founder, Kyoshi Jay Purdy, was head of the Elora Karate Dojo. Purdy has been involved with karate for more than 50 years in Ontario and decided to hand off the reins of hosting the tournament to Lamble.
Lamble noted that the location in Elmira is a more personal choice. Her husband, Kyoshi Mike Robertson, was just graded up to a 7th-degree black belt this year.
“So we thought in celebration of that it would be really exciting to bring the event home to our local community,” explained Lamble. “My son goes to school at Riverside, and he will be competing. He’s very excited. He’s an orange belt, and he’s very excited to be able to participate at his own school.”
“We do have students from all of the local schools participating; it’s not just Riverside. It’s just an excellent school, so we decided it would be a nice thing to do. Also because our son goes there, it’s good to support the community that way.”
Participants are divided by age, from peewee (age 6 and under) up to adults (16+) and belts of all shades, including white, yellow, orange, green, brown, blue, and black to keep a level playing field.
The CNGK tournament will take place at the Riverside PS gym on April 28, starting at noon.