MAC memories from Portugal

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The memories of competing at World Martial Arts Organization’s World Championships in Portugal will last a lifetime for Martial Arts Canada teens Logan Brown and Jaxon Hillner – for all the right reasons.

The two Tillsonburg martial artists had qualified for the Albufeira championships through a tournament in Milton four months earlier.

Brown competed last September in kata, weapons and point sparring, and together with Hillner did a team demonstration.

“In kata, I was second… weapons, I got first… point sparring, second… and team demo, we got second.”

Hillner competed in point sparring, continuous sparring, and team demo.

“Third in point sparring,” said Hillner, “and in team demo we got second.”

“I felt like I did my kata very well,” said Brown. “For both my divisions, I was the first one up – so they had to see my first before they saw everyone else.

“It was alphabetical – Brown’s a good name to have,” he laughed.


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In some sports, first can be the most challenging. Often the last competitor has an easier task impressing judges.

Brown did not see it as a disadvantage, however, but admitted, “It seems like you have to set the bar high, then you compare it to everyone else. It can be hard, but…”

The winner of Brown’s kata division of six ‘went last.’

“I felt pretty good with what I did (in weapons). It was a lot of build-up leading up to it. I was just thinking, ‘I’m going to go out and put all of it in, all I’ve been training for straight into what I do. I tried to block everything else out. I didn’t care if I was going out first… I was just going out…”

Most of his competitors in kata and weapons, which he won using a bo staff, were Canadians and South Africans, with one competitor from England in kata.

“For point sparring I had five people in my division,” said Hillner. “One of them, a South African, didn’t fight – he moved up into a different division.”

Hillner’s first match, against England, was a tough one.

“He was a really good fighter, really fast, and he beat me (19-9). I would follow him into the corner, then he would blitz me really fast,” said Hillner, who prefers being on the offence.

What he learned was to ‘always be ready.’

“I was told my height would help me… it didn’t help me that much,” he smiled. “They were all tall.

“I would have been in the fight for third and fourth, against Ireland, but he disqualified himself. He wasn’t happy with his results.”

That meant bronze for Hillner.


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“I feel like I would have done pretty good because he was fighting the guy I had just fought and he was getting beat pretty good. The other guy, another Englishman, got a bye to the finals.”

The entry who a bye to the final lost 28-0 to Hillner’s first-match foe, which meant if brackets had lined up different, Hillner potentially might have been in line for silver.

Brown earned his second silver in point sparring, splitting the round robin (single 2.5 minute rounds) in a group of three.

“I fought a South African – he beat me 5-3 – it was very close,” said Brown. “I think I ran out of time. But I know what I could have done better. I feel like what I did wrong was I stayed too far away from him. So I took too much of my time and energy to get ‘in’, then get him. I’ll know for next time.”

“It came down to a really close point at the end,” Hillner nodded.

“Another Canadian lost to the South African as well, so I fought the Canadian for second place – and I beat him, 11-3 I think. He was getting winded. I was kicking him in the stomach a lot, he almost had to tap out.”

Hillner did not medal in continuous sparring (two 2-minute rounds).

“That was my first continuous sparring match ever – and it was at the World Championships – so it was good competition for my first match. In the first round and a half, I felt like I did really good. I felt like I might have won the first round and a half, but then… as the second round kept going I got really tired and winded. So he started to get a bunch of points on me there – that’s probably where I lost it.”


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“That’s probably the worst time to get points scored against you, the last 30 seconds,” said Brown. “Because it’s fresh in people’s minds.”

The team demo had three teams – all Canadians – in its first year at the WMO Worlds.

“We lost by 0…” said Hillner.

“We lost by 0.01,” said Brown. “One judge could have just gone up one or down one, and we would have won. It was that close. It was right there.”

“You could tell that the other groups had been practicing quite a bit,” said Hillner, noting the Tillsonburg MAC duo didn’t start until July, giving them at most a couple months.

“We started quite a bit later,” Brown nodded.

The next WMO is in South Africa, said Hillner, but they plan to switch organizations in 2019 to compete at the WKC (World Karate Commission) event in Niagara Falls, NY.

“I feel like the experience of WMO was different from WKC – a lot,” said Brown, who had competed in the 2017 WKC championships in Florida.

“Quite a difference,” Hillner nodded.

“The sparring at WMO… a lot more intense,” said Brown.

“A lot more contact,” said Hillner.

“They let a lot go,” said Brown. “The English, the Irish, they’re just brawlers. They just ‘go.’ You can see that’s the way like to go. When you compare it to WKC, where you have more Americans doing their katas… this WMO tournament was more fighting suited / focused, and WKC is more well rounded.”

With the international experience, Hillner said he plans to train more in kata.

“I feel like I could do the kata if I worked on it quite a bit. I’m trying to get better at kata and work on kata. I understand it more now.”


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“I’d like to obviously thank my parents for taking me and going with me, and taking me to all the Team Canada practices (in Milton). It was quite a long drive to get there,” said Hillner.

“And Sensei Mike (Hill) and Greg (Rockefeller) and everyone else at The Pitt for the training – the majority of the training was there with them.”

“We car pooled a lot to Milton and we did a lot of training together as well,” said Brown, also thanking everyone at The Pitt in LaSalette. “Sensei Mike really helped a lot with the team demonstration, he really focused his time to help us – we really can’t thank him enough. And Sensei Rockefeller, and everyone here at Tillsonburg – Renshi (Bruce Shaver), he helped me out a lot. And everyone else out at Team WMO.”

“Danny Griffith,” said Hillner, thanking the WMO Canada vice-president.

“And Hanshi Scott Hogarth,” said Brown.

The Max Partlo Memorial Fund donated money to help fund a part of Hillner’s trip to Portugal, which he was thankful for.