The Manitouwadge Wado Kai Karate club was honoured to welcome seventh level Sensei Michel Gosselin on Saturday. He, and seven other instructors travelled from clubs in Hearst, Wawa, and Thunder Bay to demonstrate and teach the art and skills of Wado Kai Karate to local students of all ages.
Master Hironori Otsuka, the original founder of the Wado Kai Karate style, once said of the karateka (those who practice the martial arts), "They should always hold true three vital elements: the heart, spirit and physical strength."
These three foundations, along with grace and versatility, were apparent in the clinic on Saturday morning, as the seito (students), who ranged in age from three to 60, donned their Gis (uniforms) and learned new skills from the sensei and sempai (honored teachers and instructors).
For the first hour, which was open to all levels of experience, the instructors took the time to help the beginners understand the movements, and encouraged them to focus on the techniques. The rest of the class was for the more advanced students; from the first level white and yellow belts to those who have earned their brown and black belts, they all eagerly honed their skill under the guidance of the sensei and his team.
“Wado Kai Karate has so much to offer,” said Jennifer Gray, who founded the local chapter in November 2022. “There’s the physical side; getting fit and improving your coordination and reflexes while learning to defend yourself, but there’s also the mental side. You learn self-discipline and mindfulness. It all leads to health, grace, and self-confidence.”
The club hosts two levels of classes. Half hour kinder classes are offered on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m., and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.. The one-hour open class starts at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, and Fridays at 7 p.m. The cost is $70 for an annual membership, which goes to the Northwest Ontario Karate Association, and a monthly fee ($20 for Kinder, $40 for Open class), which pays for the hall rental, equipment, and other expenses. The classes will continue year-round, as long as there are interested participants. At the present time, there are approximately 30 students that attend on a regular basis.
Gray is considering adding an adult/teen class on Sundays, which will focus on mobility, flexibility, and self-defence, and may have added elements such as traditional karate, kung fu, and tai-chi.
Special workshops and tournaments are being planned. Sensei Ron Mattie, 9th Dan, SWKKF Head instructor, is planning a visit to the club on April 4, and there are upcoming tournaments in Hearst and Welland.
For more information about the club, see their Manitouwadge Wado Kai Karate Club Facebook page.