Members from St. Paul Karate Do receive black belts
St. Paul Karate Do members Ryan Poitras and Berthe Pelchat were awarded for their years of hard work and dedication last week in a brief ceremony where Sensei Calvin Leckie presented them with their black belts.
For Poitras, who’s been training for 17 years, the event marked his graduation to the second degree of black belt, while Pelchat now must train for a year until she completes the probationary status period, Leckie said.
He said it takes a minimum of five years in order to get to the first level of black belt and another five in-between the various degrees, although each person must also display the ability and knowledge of the art before the belt is awarded.
Leckie is a third degree black belt and said each degree requires the person to be prepared in 15 or more patterns, also known as kata, and select at least one to perform while a panel chooses another.
The recent achievements come at a time when the number of members that participate in classes at the club is low, however, during the fall months membership can be as high as 60 students, according to Leckie.
“People don’t realize what it is until they actually come and spend time there,” he said, regarding those who have thought about trying it out. “For me, it’s become a way of life. It’s what I do.”
Taking part in karate helps fitness, self-defense and provides a good mixture between sport and art, he added. Being a member also provides a family atmosphere and helps individuals overcome personal struggles.
“It’s internal competition,” he explained. “Ninety per cent of it is competing against yourself. You’re in there to see what you can achieve…overcome your own obstacles. Everyone in life has obstacles and karate makes you face those obstacles.”
“The people who stick with it are the ones that get past that and face those limitations and barriers,” he added.
Each year, members of the St. Paul Karate Do compete at tournaments in Edmonton, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Cold Lake, Bonnyville and even an international tournament hosted in Southern California.
After the summer, Leckie encourages newcomers of all ages and skill levels to the dojo to try a class and experience what can potentially be beneficial for both physical and mental fitness.
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