Prestigious tournament previously closed event
Japan to welcome six local karate kids
BY MICHAEL PIASETZKI
The 14th annual under-18 Full Contact Karate Tournament is scheduled to take place in April in Honbu, Japan, and Canada will be represented.
Not that unusual one might surmise, since our country tries to send s many athletes to international events as possible.
To knowledgeable observers of the sport, however, it is an unexpected turn of events, because for the first time in the tourney’s history, organizers have decided to actually permit foreigners to compete in what had previously been a closed event. About 500 participants from 35 countries have entered, with Canada represented by 16 of the top junior full contact karate fighters in the nation. Six of those, including Michael Beauvais, Alexandre Dore, Vincent Granata, Jansen Trichas, Adam Wiltzer and Peter Ronco hail from the West Island. All train at the Kyokushin Karate Russo Dojo in Dollard des Ormeaux, run by Sensei Vittorio Junior Russo, a world-class full contact fighter. “Japan is the home of Kyokushin,” said Russo, a former member of the Canadian full contact karate team who has competed at world over -18 championships in the past but was forced to retire due to serious injuries. “This tournament will be a huge deal over there. Will it be impossible for the six West Island athletes to do well? Absolutely not. The quality of each is high calibre. They have fought all over the country, and will be well prepared.”
Although the rules for junior and senior full contact karate remain the same, the main difference is the younger competitors are allowed to wear protective equipment. That being said, the biggest piece of armour for each and every one will be the Maple Leaf that will be sewn on to their hearts as they each walk out on the map to do battle. “This is going to be a great honour,” said Wiltzer, a 10-year-old Dollard resident who wears a brown belt, one below the coveted black belt. “To fight for your country. We’re all doing a lot of running, sparring, crazy workouts. We’ll be facing the top junior fighters in the world, so it won’t be easy. We would like to win obviously, but to lose would not be the end of the world. It will be a privilege just to compete.”
The tournament will be a single-elimination event, a daunting factor considering the distance travelled for all concerned. “I’m not worried. Our kids are warriors,” said Russo. “They know what lies ahead of them. Still, I have told them that it’s not about winning or losing. It will all be about the experience. Just the fact they have qualified to compete at this tournament means they are winners already.”