TKO journey takes them to Toronto

CHRIS ABBOTT/TILLSONBURG NEWS Calum Nairn opened Traditional Karate Ontario in Tillsonburg.

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It might be one of the largest karate camps and competitions of its kind in Toronto this year.

WTKO International Camp and Competition, Aug. 2-5, will have more than 100 participants learning – and competing – in Shotokan Karate.

“It’s run by the World Traditional Karate Organization, which is a major organization in Shotokan Karate,” said Calum Nairn from Traditional Karate Ontario in Tillsonburg. “Richard Amos is the chief instructor, the leader of the organization, and he is a legend. Sensei Scott Middleton will also be there, he’s from Manitoba and is a world renowned karate instructor who travels the world on behalf of WTKO teaching fantastic high-quality karate. Sensei John Mullin is another instructor who has decades and decades years of experience in karate and is a very well known name in the Shotokan Karate world. His experience is probably second to none and he’s certainly up there with the legends in Shotokan Karate. So the quality of the instruction is absolutely world class.”

Participants from nine countries around the world will gather at York University for the camp and competition including Ireland, England, and Scotland.

“The calibre of instruction is absolutely world class and I expect the quality of participants will be of a very high standard in Shotokan Karate,” said Nairn.

“It’s a very prestigious location – a fantastic location. Toronto is a beautiful city for international guests. It’s being promoted as not just for karate people – we’re invited to bring (guests) along… because there will be a lot of training, but there will also be some meals, a couple of beers,” he added with a grin, “and there will be other activities. For example, there’s a tour bus going to Niagara Falls. So people from Ireland will be able to do karate, see a bit of Toronto – it’s a fantastic city – and take in one of the wonders of the world.”

Traditional Karate Ontario in Tillsonburg expects to send six of its members, and three of them will compete. Nairn said he expects well over 100 International Camp and Competition participants in total.

“The training starts on Thursday. There will be training Friday morning, then a competition in the afternoon. And then training Saturday and Sunday. There are other events going on too, but there will be full-on training and a little competition which just adds a little spice – just to test your mettle against other countries and see how you place against other highly qualified individuals. It’s a good way of ‘putting one to the test’ to see how you perform under a little bit of pressure.

“So we’re looking forward to competing, but more importantly we’re looking forward to joining with the WTKO community and working hard and training hard and learning from the very best instructors out there in the world right now.

“We should benefit from working along side them and training under them and learning and taking that knowledge back to Tillsonburg. Hopefully that improves our karate, which improves our students’ karate. So the goal is to learn more. Sensei Scott Middleton always says it’s an endless journey – you’re never at a point where you’ve ‘mastered’ it. You’re never at a point where you’ve ‘learned it all.’ It’s a continual learning process. And it’s fun, it’s a good workout, and you’re learning to defend yourself as well. So all-in-all it will be a superb experience for us and the members of our dojo here in Tillsonburg.”

Traditional Karate Ontario recently completed its third year in Tillsonburg, wrapping up classes in mid-June.

“We are continuing every Tuesday night in the park,” Nairn noted, “where we do what we call ‘Karate in the Park.’ We’re doing a children’s class from 6:30-7 and 7-8 adults. It’s informal, T-shirts and shorts, let’s just work out, have a little fun and do karate in the park. There’s no charge. If anybody wants to try that, you’re welcome to come along and give it a try. This will be our third year of doing ‘Karate in the Park.’”

Nairn said he was quite pleased with the progress was made in TKO this past year.

“The growth of the children has been really good, we’re very pleased. We just graded two orange belts, which is the second grading for them, and I have to say I’m delighted with the spirit that they put into their karate and their effort. Because of that their technique is definitely shaping and the foundations are being laid for them to have a very good karate journey if they so choose to stay in it. It was a very successful grading.

“The children’s classes are gaining in size each year… probably around 10 right now,” he said, noting the focus will always be quality over quantity. “We offer the children the ability to train once or twice per week, and the same with the adults, every Tuesday and Thursday night.

“It’s been a very good experience. Teaching children is super fulfilling. To see their technique, to see their effort, that is hugely fulfilling. To watch the children develop from the first time they come into the dojo, as we call the training hall, to maybe two years down the road, they really have come a long way in a fairly short period of time. To see their progress, that has been super exciting for us.”

Regular TKO classes start again in the fall, typically the second or third week in September, with three 8-10 week sessions each season.

“The adult class has been a bigger surprise,” said Nairn, “because that has grown quite rapidly. Again, it’s about quality. We work hard to try to get the perfect technique and the perfect movement. Obviously it’s an endless journey, so we never get to the perfect part, but we work towards that. And as a group I think we are doing very well standard-wise, quality-wise.

“And we’re certainly having fun on this journey.”