Spruce Grove Wado-Kai Karate hopes to expand the tournament schedule next season

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Spruce Grove Wado-Kai Karate is still going strong.

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The local non-profit karate club is nearing the end of its 33rd season. This year, starting in September, a total of 20 students took part in weekly classes at École Broxton Park School, which ended at the end of June according to the school year.

Since its inception in 1989, the club has operated from community facilities – primarily school gyms – throughout Spruce Grove. However, during the pandemic, the club was forced to move to community halls when local schools began banning outside user groups from using their gyms.

“It was a bit of a challenge, but we mostly pulled it off,” said Sensai Mike Bujold, Head Instructor, Spruce Grove Wado-Kai Karate.

The club offers two programs, including Family for students ages five and up and Advanced/Adult for students ages 13 and up. This season the club has enrolled fewer adults than in previous years, so it has mainly focused on its family programme. Before the pandemic, the club would run on both Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Now the exercises only take place on Tuesdays. Current students range from white belts through to brown belts (last before black).

At Spruce Grove Wado-Kai Karate, Bujold said students can expect to learn discipline and confidence, make friends and, of course, develop self-defense skills. One of the four main styles of karate, Wado-Kai emphasizes using the opponent’s power against him. It focuses on low, strong stances that use hip movement not just for hitting, but for shared locks and throws.

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In 2000, Bujold began training at Wado-Kai at the club in Spruce Grove under Sensai Danny McCoy. He said he accidentally fell for it after deciding to learn a martial art. He has since earned his second black belt (Nidan) and has become the club’s head coach.

“Basically (the styles) are all pretty similar, but the way we teach and perform them is different. I stayed with (Wado-Kai) because I feel that this particular style suits my body and the way I walk. That goes without saying for me,” said Bujold.

Each year the club hosts a tournament in Spruce Grove. This year’s was held on Saturday, April 30th at Millgrove School, where over 60 students from across Alberta competed in events including kata (karate forms) and sparring. It was the first tournament the club had hosted and participated in since 2019. Bujold said that almost all of his students have been on the podium at one event or another.

“Going to a tournament is like a month of classes. You will learn a lot about karate just by watching other people. You win whether you win or not, that’s what I try to convey to my students,” said Bujold.

This particular tournament was the only one the club took part in that season. For some students it was their first time participating in a formal karate competition. Bujold said her excitement was evident. Typically, in a non-pandemic year, the club took part in five tournaments across the province. The hope is to hit the streets again next year, assuming health restrictions are not reinstated.

Those interested in trying Wado-Kai can register at sprucegrovekarate.ca. The club offers a two-week free trial period, during which new students can take two classes to see if karate is right for them.

“We encourage everyone to come over and give it a try. If you like it, you can pay your fee and move on, and if you don’t, there are no bad feelings,” Bujold said.

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