More than 100 athletes will represent team Canada at a global karate championship in Richmond, B.C., this week.
The Karate-do Goju-kai Global Championships take place every four years. This is the seventh time the martial arts event has been held and the first time the tournament is in North America.
Team Canada only sent three competitors to the 2013 championships in Mumbai and still managed to bring home a bronze and a gold medal. It took four years of recruiting and training martial artists from across the country to grow the team to its current size.
With the addition of karate to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, coach Rob Richardson is excited to see how the team fares.
“We haven’t really been able to get a good test of the talent depth here,” Richardson told Rick Cluff, host of The Early Edition.
Nearly 600 athletes from more than 20 countries will compete this weekend.
Karate-do Goju-kai has ancient roots in Japan and China but today the International Karate-do Goju-kai Association has branches and dojos across the globe.
“Once it actually gets some more profile with the Olympics we’re going to see a lot more people asking about it,” said Richardson, who has been practicing karate since 1985.
The event includes traditional performances of kata — a solo or synchronized team performance of a series of movements — as well as kumite, which sees opponents spar against one another.
Athletes from ages six to 60 will be competing. There are also open para-karate categories for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.
If you want to see the “pure energy” of the sport, Richardson recommends checking out the U21 event on Sunday or traditional performances taking place Friday.
The event runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
With files from CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition