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Whistler karate tournament goes full contact

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"For the Whistler crew, this is their first tournament, and they’re going to be pretty nervous about it I think," says Rankin, who has been taking them through tournament training for the last few weeks.

"It’s been hard, they’re all hurting a little right now. Nothing serious though. I lose more students to snowboarding and mountain biking than I do in full contact. If you’re in shape, and in training, then nobody really gets hurt."

Full contact is really what makes Shinseikai Karate unique. From day one, students spar with other students and with Rankin, punching, kicking and blocking without the use of padding. According to Rankin, they also focus on glove fighting techniques like kick-boxing, and grappling.

Only a handful of dojos in Western Canada use this technique; Kyokushin in Seattle and Dawson Creek, Yoshukai in Victoria, Enshinkai in Victoria, and Shinsekai in Whistler and Japan. Representatives from all of the full contact karate organizations will be at the Whistler championships.

If he has to pick a favourite, Rankin believes Yoshukai Karate has the edge.

"They’re very good, they have a very good technique," Rankin says. "Our full time dojo has only been in operation for about a year, but next year we hope to have a team in the top three."

Rankin is hoping to make the Whistler Cup an annual event, and wants to add another event in Squamish or Vancouver to give his students more opportunities to compete in this style of competition.

At the Whistler Cup, there will be a half time show from Vancouver’s Tokidoki Taiko drumming group. There will also be a K1-style glove fighting competition and a grappling demonstration.

Rankin will also use the opportunity to teach spectators something about Japanese culture, especially in light of the fact that Whistler is already promoting cultural exchanges with its sister city of Karuizawa, Japan.

"Half of the reason I’m organizing this event and opened up the dojo in Whistler is to promote the Japanese culture within the community. That’s also part of the reason why my rates are really cheap. It’s run more as a community service than a for-profit dojo. All of my classes are conducted in Japanese, so students have to learn a little of the language and philosophy as they go, in addition to the full contact karate," says Rankin.

The event is being held in the Meadow Park Arena while the ice is out, starting at 1 p.m. on June 15. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Rankin is counting on having a lot of spectators.

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