BY KIRK PERRY
Kitchener Karate Academy (KKA) is hosting its first international karate tournament in Cuba on Jan. 14.
Nineteen KKA competitors will be flying out of Pearson Airport on Jan. 12. The tournament is expected to have a total of around 200 competitors, made up of both Canadian and Cuban martial artists.
“I’m very excited. I’ve done a few tournaments here but now this is like a vacation and a tournament at the same time,” said KKA student and competitor Paul Trussler.
KKA Sensei and owner Philip Bellam will be a host of the tournament and one of its adult competitors.
“I’m excited yes, however I’m also concerned for the being in charge of the actual tournament. I’m hosting it. So being able to have the time to change out of a suit, jump into uniform to compete, keep track of what’s going on and be a coach here for everyone, it’s a lot of responsibilities throughout the day to make a successful event,” said Bellam.
“If this tournament is a success it could potentially open the doors to more karate connections and more competitions worldwide,” said KKA part time instructor and volunteer Andrei Alexandru (Alex).
The 19 competitors will be competing in various activities such as kumite (sparring), kata (a demonstration of form and movements) and team kata.
To prepare for the tournament, the students have been able to train with a handful of Karate Canada team members from Seiwa Kai Canada in Ingersoll.
The tournament is expected to last about six hours. A karate seminar will also take place, partnering with local Cuban karate masters.
Students at KKA have been preparing for this tournament since last spring when Bellam travelled to Cuba to meet the other tournament organizers.
“I trained with them and they liked the way I trained. They said I do good karate. They accepted me into their family as one of their own. This tournament would not have happened if I did not go down and meet these people,” said Bellam.