By Eric Bourque
A big karate tournament held annually in the Yarmouth area has changed venues this year. The Yarmouth Karate Challenge will take place at the Mariners Centre Saturday, June 7, and is expected to draw competitors not only from Nova Scotia but from other parts of Atlantic Canada.
“Last year we had 125 (participants), which is average,” said Milton Bourque, head sensei with the Mukashi club, which organizes the tournament. “We’ve had up to 140 one year, but we’re looking at a couple hundred this year.”
That one of the top referees in Canada – Allen Tanzadeh – will be here for the tournament has helped draw some of the top officials in Eastern Canada and they, in turn, are bringing students, Bourque said.
The tournament previously was held at the Par-en-Bas school in Tusket. Things were getting tight at that venue, Bourque said.
“I added divisions and, because of that, it took longer to do the tournament,” he said. “There wasn’t enough room to put three mats. At the Mariners Centre I can put three mats out.”
The competition is scheduled to get underway at 9 a.m. and the younger divisions should be done by lunchtime or so, he said.
The plan for the afternoon – likely starting around 2 – is to have the finals for the older divisions in the middle ring, with all of the attention on them, like a national tournament.
“I think it’s going to be good,” Bourque said. “It creates excitement.”
Dwayne Robicheau, one of Bourque’s students, who also has been involved in planning the tournament, says the move to the Mariners Centre will help give the event greater exposure.
“I knew it was time for us here in Yarmouth to show the world and the world of karate what we can do,” he said. “From the start EastLink television has been enthusiastic about our event and the Mariners Centre very excited to host this event. The combination of television and Internet has created an opportunity for Yarmouth to be on the world martial arts stage.”
The tournament is open to spectators and it’s free admission. The competition should be finished by about 5 p.m., but that won’t be the end of the day’s karate-related activities. That same night, at the Knights of Columbus hall in Yarmouth, the Karate Nova Scotia awards will be presented.
The awards have been presented here before, but, at least for awhile, it looked like they might be presented elsewhere this time.
Bourque says a supper was being planned as part of this year’s Yarmouth tournament anyway and, in the end, the local organizers were asked if they could host the awards again. The awards dinner should start around 7 p.m.
As for the Mukashi School of Karate, the club holds two classes a week at its dojo in Brooklyn – a former church – where the club has been for about a year.
Having been involved in karate for about 37 years, Bourque was asked what has kept him in it so long.
“The thing that keeps me going is there’s always something to learn,” he said.