Lifelong friends are being made at Karate competitions at the Winter Games

Author: BC Games Society/Saturday, February 22, 2020/Categories: Front Page, 2020 News, BC Winter Games, 2020 BC Winter Games, Karate

Lifelong friends are being made at Karate competitions at the Winter Games

Karate made its Olympic debut at Tokyo in 2020 but has been part of the BC Games since 1978. The sport provides young athletes with coordination, stamina and agility. Over 130 participants have made the trip to Fort St. John to compete in one of the five styles; Shito, Goju, Shoto, Wado and Chito.

Jason Farguharson was born and raised in Fort St. John and took on the role of Karate Sport Chair for the Games. Jason runs clubs around the region in Tumbler Ridge, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd and of course at home in FSJ.  He is humbled by the experience and expertise that has stepped forward and donated their time for the sport.

“We have never had an event to this scale in the Peace Region. We have international coaches and officials here, also athletes that are pan am champions turned coaches," Jason said.

About 35 local volunteers have helped to put on this event. All the zones have been helping each other, coaching and working together. So much so, one coach was injured and all participants rallied around him to make sure the team is supported and ready for competition.  Jason said it’s very touching to see people from across the country working together and such a sense of community with karate.

In most sports, the ‘O’ Zone means offense. However, at the BC Winter Games, the ‘O’ stands for officials. Officials of Karate base their scores on technical elements for 70% and athletics for 30% of the overall score.

Assisting the officials are junior judges, who undergo training on the rules of the sport, and with time can become overall judges. An athlete can begin their studies for a junior judge’s role as young as 16, which means they are often still competing regularly on their own while studying to be a judge.

Seeing both sides of the match, junior judges take their experience from judging and applying preferred skills to their own training.

Rules state that you cannot compete in the same style more than once, so everyone competing in Karate at the Games this weekend is doing so for the first time in their style. This creates a fresh feeling for both the athletes and judges, allowing competitors to test other skills and be paired up with new faces.

One coach from the Okanagan region has experienced a full circle of the games.  Michelle Cowan was on the provincial team and competed in the 1990, ‘91, ‘92 & ‘93 Games.  Following the 1993 Games she stepped into the role of coaching and hasn’t looked back since.

Brendon Ly and Isabel ‘Izzy’ Chan are also Winter Games alumni. They have been competing in Karate for 13 years and are now coaching in Zone 4.  Izzy and Brendan both had a brother in the 2008 Winter Games and it motivated them to work towards their own opportunities. It was the first big competition away from home. Izzy says they are still good friends with people they met at past games.

“You're travelling with a team and really helped to build camaraderie.” 

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