Sports

Your guide to martial arts in Sooke: Part 1

A taekwondo student practicing her flying front kicks. - Britt Santowski
A taekwondo student practicing her flying front kicks.
— image credit: Britt Santowski

The martial arts schools we have access to here in Sooke include karate, taekwondo, boxing and tai chi.

Martial arts are defined as studies in self defence that apply strength, power and speed, and/or directed energy and balance. They can be armed or unarmed. Skills development focusses on self-defence and combat, and often also involve a mindset component, often linking them with religion or spirituality in the East. Here in the West, mindset tends to focus on discipline and positivity, and classes are treated more as fitness-focussed than spiritually-focussed.

Following is a bird’s eye view of what the following fitness schools have to offer. They cater to a range of ages, skill levels and desired outcomes, and hold appeal for both female and male students.

More information is available on the websites, which have been included.

If you are interested in previewing or attending any of these schools, please contact the school directly to confirm time and place as some of these schools are still settling into regular schedules.

This  week: Karate and Taekwondo.

Next week: Boxing and Tai Chi.

Karate and Taekwondo

Sooke Shukokai Karate

This school has been in Sooke since 2008.

What they teach

Shukokai Karate. Classes are posted on their website. They also offer certified anti-bullying courses through their Fit 4 Defense and courses on self-defence.

Where and when

They are located at 6705 West Coast Road, Sooke, and their courses run from Monday to Thursday. Visit their website below for details.

A bit about the art

Shukokai Karate is designed around the body mechanics, and according to Sensei Norman Ensil, it is known as one of the hardest hitting karates around. When the technique is mastered, the student is able to maximize speed and power and overcome their opponent with “one hit, one kill.” Hand in hand with this power comes mastery of self-control. This school is a part of the international Kimura Shukokai International (KSI), which is headed by four 8th Dan instructors.

A bit about this school

According to their website, the school is “dedicated to the teaching of karate, not only for self-defence purposes, but also for character building, and the development of self-confidence, physical fitness and camaraderie.” In conversation, Ensil says his teachings are guided by three key points of understanding: What it is, How it works, and Why it works.

Once a year, there is a World’s Chief Instructor’s Course (WCIC), where all those who train in a KSI school throughout the world can train with the four 8th Dan instructors. Prior to earning a black belt, students must attend one of these WCIC’s, and black belts can only be awarded by one of the four chief instructors. “So if I present anyone who is not of the standard, I am in trouble,” says Ensil.

About the instructors

Founder Sensei Alida Ensil is a 2nd degree Dan, and has trained internationally. She’s been involved in Kimura Shukokai for a decade. According to their website, the club has over 30 students. In October, 2012, Alida handed over the school to Sensei Norman. Sensei Norman Ensil, 4th degree Black Belt. He comes from South Africa and has close to 30 years of experience, locally and internationally.

Ensil places a special emphasis on the development of personal integrity and remaining open to constant learning and growth.

Student profile

The Sooke Shukokai Karate school has programs for children three and up.

Monitoring individual progress

When asked how long it would take to progress from beginner to black belt, Ensil explains: “The minimum period, and this will be for someone training at least twice a week for an hour at a time, that’s at a minimum, would be three years, but that’s going to be for an exceptional student, very rare. On average, it takes four to five years.”

Website

http://www.shukokai-canada.com/locations/sooke-shirley-dojo/

Sooke Martial Arts Association

The SMAA was founded as a club in 1982 by Sensei Ian Milne. They became a registered Association registered in November 2010.

What they teach

Shotokan Karate. Head Sensei Carl Scott elaborates on their offerings: “We teach street self-defense as well, personal protection kind of thing, and some weapons training.”

Where and when

They meet at the Sooke Community Hall at 2037 Sheilds Road, across from Mom’s Cafe. Classes are held on Mondays and Thursday nights. Junior classes start at 6 p.m. and senior classes are at 7 p.m.

A bit about the art

According to Wikipedia, “Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring).” The primary focus is on developing strength and power, and the application of the skills by way of sparring is applied as one advances through the ranks.

A bit about this school

SMAA is heavily involved in the community, and periodically attend competitions held elsewhere. A few of their students will be entering the Tiger Balm Martial Arts Tournament in Vancouver on March 16/17, and they have a club tournament on May 25.

Their commitment to the community is extensive. They have received a Sogo Active Grant through the ParticipACTION Teen Challenge program, which allows for a free 8-week karate training program for youth and their families. This program begins on March 25. They also are providing two $500 bursaries to graduating and adult-education students who are active in community sports program.

About the instructors

Head Sensei Carl Scott, supported by six Black Belt SMAA Members. Engaged in martial arts since he was 11, the 38-year-old Scott is a second degree black belt. Discipline, mindset and fitness are top drivers for Scott. A profile of all the instructors is available on their website.

Student profile

According to Scott, the school has approximately 80 members. “We start kids in our club at about five or six years old.” General interest is what keeps people with the activity,” says Scott. “I’ve seen a lot of young kids who have been put in because their parents put them in. A lot of those kids resist initially and a lot of them have stuck it out and become really good at it. And then I’ve seen kids come in who are really gung-ho on it, but then they’re gung-ho on many things [and don’t last in the program].” Students cover the spectrum. “Then there are kids who are absolute die-hards who finish class on Monday and can’t wait for Thursday’s class to start,” says Scott.

Monitoring individual progress

“The green belt tends to be a decision-point and the black belt as well. Maybe 10 per cent of those who achieve a black belt actually stick with it and carry on,” notices Scott. SMAA  teaches their own curriculum, and assign belts internally.

Website

http://www.sookemartialarts.com/

MIJO Sport Taekwondo

What they teach

World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), which is Olympic-style TKD.

Where and when

Classes are held in the gym at Poirier elementary school as well as at SEAPARC, from Mondays through Thursdays. See their website for details on specific programs.

A bit about the art

There are two main types of Taekwondo: World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), which is also Olympic style, and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). The differences between the two are quite subtle. When it comes to head hits, WTF allows only kicks to the head (which are difficult to administer), whereas ITF allows both kicks and punches to the head. Another critical difference is that WTF typically does contact with full protective gear whereas pure ITF is without gear. There are also independent schools who are not necessarily affiliated with either WTF or ITF.

A bit about this school

According to their website, they “specialize in one-on one personal training, sport specific training, small group training, martial arts training, new-mom training, fitness classes, martial arts cross-training, POPAT/PARE preparation, Triathalon training and fitness education.”

Classes begin with a warm-up which is then followed with forms practice as well as a study on terminology and philosophy. When practising combat, students wear full padding, from nose to toes, and there are no kicks allowed to the head before achieving a black belt standing.

About the instructors

Sooke’s lead Instructor, or Sabomnim, is Master Michelle Carpenter. Carpenter has been a student of martial arts for 23 years, starting at eight years old, and she’s been teaching since 1991, when she was 12 years old. She’s currently a 4th degree Black Belt.

Emphasis on being open and learning from many masters. Carpenter has a Bachelors of Science in Human Biology, and is committed to merging fitness and martial arts. She teaches other fitness professionals the fine art of kicking and punching, and she also teaches anatomy to martial artists throughout lower Vancouver Island.

Student profile

Carpenter teaches to a curriculum that is focussed on the age and physical development levels of each student group. She teaches both children and adult classes. Classes are divided into age-specific categories: three to five; six to 12; and, 13 and older.

In finding the right fit for you, Carpenter recommends you “do a month first and see if your kids like it, see if it’s a right fit for you, for the family, for the child.”

Monitoring individual progress

Students do not do any sparing until they achieve their green belt, as the development of control and discipline is critical before they practice contact. In MIJO, there are no kicks to the head before the first black belt.

Website

http://mijosport.com/

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