Cole Manson has been teaching martial arts in Whistler for almost five years now, but hes never seen a group like his current roster of kids.
"A few of them had been in tournaments before, but for most of them it was completely new so it took a lot of courage to even get there," he said. "Now theyre all psyched and cant wait for a our next tournament in April."
On Sunday, March 19, Manson brought his team to the Tiger Balm International martial arts tournament at Capilano College, a huge event where all the different martial arts disciplines compete against each other based on age and belt class. Judo students compete against Taekwondo students, Karate students compete against Jiu Jitsu students, and so on.
It was a perfect opportunity for Mansons students, who he teaches all different types of martial arts, to test their skills.
In fact, Kishindo is Mansons own invention, where students can learn something from all of the different styles of self-defence and come up with their own style.
Manson is impressed with all of his students, but says the day belonged to 15-year-old Shawn Clarke more than anyone.
Clarke had four matches, two in point sparring and two in continuous fighting, winning all four of them to earn two gold medals. More importantly, Clarke caught the eye of the Canadian National Martial Arts Association, and was named to Team Canada 2006 for the World Martial Arts Games. This year the World Martial Arts Games will take place in Victoria Aug. 18-20 with over 1,000 athletes from more than 20 nations.
"Hes really big and really fast," said Manson of Clarke. "And hes good. His size helps, but hes one of those students who takes to heart what he learns."
Clarke also helped Manson by helping to coach the other students when there were two bouts taking place at the same time.
Ten other Kishindo students took part in the tournament, many of them winding up on the podium in their age categories and classes.
Karson Leigh earned a bronze in point sparring.
Dustin Lander earned a bronze in his category, and came up just short of another bronze with a fourth-place in continuous fighting.
Jaria Tompkins earned a bronze in continuous fighting.
Joey Hutchison earned a bronze in sport Jiu Jitsu, which is a combination of Jiu Jitsu and Karate with both fighting and grappling.
Jony Hutchison was second in sport Jiu Jitsu, second in continuous sparring and first in point sparring.
"After he got a first in point sparring they moved him up a class. It was awesome because he was competing against kids who were much bigger than him and he still wound up with medals," said Manson.
His other students, Callum MacConnachie, Josh Antil, Grayson Keam, Antoine Delage and Luke Lister didnt come home with any medals but were also impressive says Manson. Keam and Lister were fourth in point sparring, while Antil was fourth in continuous sparring.
"A lot of them finished off the podium in fourth, and some a little further back, but it was the first tournament for all of them so they should be proud of themselves," said Manson. "I know they cant wait for their next tournament."