The martial arts world will get a little taste of Orillia at the 2011 World Congress of Martial Arts World Cup. Morgan Sloane, 10, and Kieran Givens, 6, have been handpicked by the organization to represent Team Canada during the event, which takes place in the Dominican Republic in January.
The pair practises at Gauthier’s Martial Arts on Mississaga Street and Kyoshi Gill Gauthier said it doesn’t surprise him one bit that his students have been invited to compete at the international level. “Kieran went into his first tournament and won all five of his fights. That’s almost unheard of and Morgan dominates anybody she spars with. You’d have to see it to believe it,” he said.
Gauthier has been running the club in downtown Orillia for almost 30 years and has been teaching for 38. Over the years he said he has come across some very skilled athletes. But skill alone doesn’t get you everywhere in karate and Sloane and Givens are well aware of that. “These two are disciplined and very well mannered and that is important when you are going to a tournament and you’re representing this club,” Gauthier said.
Sloane started karate five years ago and has already earned her junior black belt. To get a full black belt, you have to be at least 16 years old, she explained. She spends four nights a week at the dojo and even helps to teach some classes. “I love this club because I feel like we are taught things properly. You can really notice it when you go to tournaments,” she said. Givens has been visiting the dojo with his mother Jackie — who sports her own black belt — since he was a baby. “It is really all he has ever known,” she said. He has been participating himself for about six months and has his yellow belt, she added.
Gauthier said he thinks Sloane and Givens will have to take it easy on their opponents at the competition. He said at this kind of event, winning isn’t everything. “It is really about getting the countries together and seeing what we can learn from each other. It is an amazing opportunity,” he said. To help ensure that his students will not miss out on the chance of a lifetime, Gauthier along with Sloane and Givens’ families, will be doing some fundraising leading up to the event to help cover the estimated $5,000 each it will cost to participate. “We have to pay for all new uniforms, tracksuits and equipment with the Team Canada logo on them as well as travel costs,” said Sloane’s father Rob.
At Gauthier’s Martial Arts, Givens is selling boxes of chocolate and Sloane is selling bracelets and necklaces she made herself. The jewelry, as well as special Team Canada bracelets, will be sold outside of Details Hair Care on Mississaga Street at the Leacock Sidewalk Sale on July 23 and 24. At Sloane’s home at 238 Mary St., they have started a bottle drive, where people can drop off their empty beer and liquor bottles to donate to the cause. The crew will also be hosting a garage sale there this summer with all proceeds going to the trip.