Coming Together

Coming Together

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Athletes from all across the globe will converge on St. John’s for the World Traditional Karate-do Championships and Traditional Karate-do World Children’s Cup.

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Martial arts fans and other sports enthusiasts won’t want to miss out on what is being touted as the Festival World Karate-do Renaissance set to take place Oct. 22-27 at Mile One Centre in St. John’s. 

Renaissance Festival 

Hosted by the National Traditional Karate Federation of Canada (NTKF) and the World Traditional Karate-do Federation (WTKF) the World Traditional Karate-do Championships and the Traditional Karate-do World Children’s Cup will take place simultaneously during the competitions.

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“We’re calling this a renaissance festival because we have the children and the adults,” said WTKF world championships organizing committee chair, Michelle Critch.

The adult portion of the event is the black belt karate championships where the best in the world will compete, Critch said. The Children’s Cup is also an important event, she said.

“The WTKF worked very hard to introduce this amazing come-together of all cultures, all countries to the kids to expose them to different cultures, meeting new friends, getting to speak their language. It’s just amazing that the kids can be involved now,” Critch said during a phone interview on Sept. 11.

WTKF is an international governing body of traditional karate which sets up technical standards for that martial art. The competition will be attended by representatives of diverse schools of karate-do throughout the world.

Held every two years, the last world championships took place in Poland in 2016, Critch said, with 2,600 athletes competing. “It’s the most amazing event I ever attended. There were 600 kids on the floor at the same time. It was incredible to watch,” she said.

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First Canadian to Win 

Critch owns Exploits Traditional Karate Club, Yoga and Fitness Studio in Grand Falls-Windsor. A 4th degree black belt, she has travelled extensively both as an athlete and a coach. The first Canadian to ever win a world championship, Critch did so in Switzerland in 2004.

After retiring as a competitor from the sport in 2008, she started coaching and taking on the role of provincial coach. She has also coached at the national level and is manager of the Canadian team competing in the world championships in St. John’s. Critch describes karate as a non-contact sport. It’s about attaining victory without violence, she said. Karate builds character, she said, in people of all ages.

“When someone gets involved in karate their whole perspective on life changes. You find your beauty inside, an energy that gives you a zest for life,” she said.

Children in karate learn peace and respect, she said. Being involved in martial arts also builds children’s confidence as well as their concentration. 

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“Studies show that children that are in the martial arts tend to be more attentive in school, their marks are much higher… and there are less cases of bullying,” she said.

The organizers are expecting between 800-1,000 athletes to compete in the world championships.

World Championships 

Teams from Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, India, Ukraine, United States, Peru, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Great Britain, Moldova and Canada have already registered for the tournament, with more teams registering every day, Critch said in follow-up correspondence on Sept. 16. There are 70 athletes (both children and adults) on Team Canada.

On its website promoting the world championships, WTKF describes St. John’s as one of the safest and friendliest cities on the continent. A place where visitors are sure to enjoy some of the finest hospitality available anywhere on the planet.

“Guests will be steeped in the rich culture and history of the place, and whether they choose to explore the breathtaking scenery of Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, immerse themselves in the history of Signal Hill, where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless transmission in 1901, or experience the vibrant nightlife of George Street, a stay in St John’s will make memories that will long endure,” the website notes.

Critch agrees that the experience the athletes will get will be unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.

“Nothing compares to what Newfoundland offers. And I’m so excited about exposing these countries to the beautiful landscape… and to friendly people, the food. They are going to get an experience that they’ve never had in their lives,” Critch said.

The Children’s World Cup takes place on Oct. 26. The world championships are on Oct. 27.  Admission to all events is free, Critch said.  “All the planning is going fantastic. People can come out and meet some athletes from other countries. Just come out and see what we are all about,” Critch said.

For more information on the world championships visit wtkfkarate.org/traditional-karate-do-renaissance-festival.

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