Trail’s first ever Tae Kwon-Do Championship tournament gets set to kick off this weekend.
Trail Martial Arts will host almost 70 participants of all ages, abilities and styles as they collide in the Cominco Gym on Saturday.
“This is the first tournament I’ve ever organized in Trail,” said Jason Ayles, head martial arts instructor.
“I’ve been involved in lots of tournaments but haven’t actually run one so this will be a first.”
Teams from Alberta and the Kootenays will go head to head on the mats and display their skills in sparring, patterns, and high jumping front kicks.
Tae kwon-do is a relatively new art, emerging from Korea in the late 1950s as an attempt to unify different forms of martial arts like Karate and Tang su do.
“It’s a little bit more scientific of an art so it’s more built around body mechanics that they knew in the 50s rather than earlier centuries,” he added.
The 27-year-old is a second-degree black belt who still competes; he recently finished in the top 10 at a tournament in Texas and competed for Team Canada at the Tae Kwon-Do World Championship in England last year.
The tournament will also welcome Ayles’ former team sparring partner, world champion Jonathan Zaleski.
Tae kwon-do techniques are based on centuries old knowledge that, for adults, combines exercise, skill, self-discipline and concentration that develops ones ability to defend oneself as much as it helps reduce stress and incorporate a high ethical standard.
Thirty entrants from Trail Martial Arts will compete in the tournament with the youngest competitor aged five and the oldest being Alvin Cormier at age 76.
Cormier is a war veteran who began studying martial arts when Ayles opened his dojang in 2009, but injuries sidelined him for over a year.
“I came back 14 months ago and I haven’t missed a class since then,” said Cormier.
“I’ve done extra too and I’m almost 77 so for all those old guys out there, it (aging) is not the end of the world.”
After leaving the military, Cormier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Since joining tae kwon-do, its meditative elements and values as much as its physical benefits has helped relieve the condition, he said.
Cormier looks forward to competing Saturday and to receiving his black belt when he turns 80.
It’s no wonder tae kwon-do is one of the most popular martial arts practiced in the world today. There is room in the ‘do jang’ for those of all ages and abilities, but especially it offers a positive environment for its young initiates.
“Built on the core values of courtesy, integrity, perseverance and self-control we help young children be the best they can . . . The best part is that it is a fun activity that your children will love while we re-enforce the values that you have been teaching them since they were born,” said Ayles.
The Tae Kwon-Do Tournament starts at 9:30 a.m. with the kids events.
Adults will go at noon and the black belt competition at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Trail Martial Arts has grown to about 100 students and offers a variety of classes five days a week at its location on Bay Avenue.
Visit trailmartialarts.com for more information.