With little happening due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nicolas Hay has had to look for ways to motivate himself to keep training in karate.
The 19-year-old Parksville junior first dan black belt came across a virtual international competition online that sparked his interest.
It was the Tbilisi Open Online Goju-Ryu Kata Tournament, hosted by the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation in Georgia that took place Nov. 23 to Dec. 20.
“There’s nothing else going on, no tournaments,” said Hay. “So I thought that would be a great way to motivate myself to train just for the sake of training and not even just for the tournament. Once I decided I want to enter the tournament, I spent a lot of nights and extra hours here in the dojo.”
Hay chose Sepai (18 hands) kata for the international competition. The movements involved a myriad of hand, foot and body movement techniques. He said it’s a kata two levels above his current belt ranking.
After countless hours of honing the intricacies of the kata four days a week, Hay created a video that he submitted to the tournament for judging. His hard work paid off when he was declared winner in the junior shodan black belt division.
“I was super excited to hear that I won,” said Hay. “I did not expect to win. I had no idea who I was up against. It was a huge surprise.”
Hay received his gold medal and a diploma just last week.
“This was my first online competition and it was a challenging one,” said Hay.
“It’s totally different. It’s weird not doing it in front of many people but I guess it’s better though, because it’s not nerve-wracking compared to when you have so many eyes on you.”
Hay has been in karate for 12 years. He has travelled to Okinawa, Japan and go to train with Master Morio Higaona, a 10th dan black belt and founder of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation. The federation now has 70,000 member worldwide in 60 different countries.
“It was my mom who got me into karate,” said Hay.
“She asked me if I wanted to try it. We had seen it in the movies and stuff and we though it was impressive. So I said I wanted to give it a shot. I’ve loved it ever since.”
Hay has been training at Qualicum Martial Arts for the past eight years. He is now ready to enter another level in his martial arts career.
Since graduating high school at Ballenas Secondary in 2019, Hay has shown a deep passion to teach karate to younger students. This month, Hay will begin teaching junior classes for children six to 12 years old at Qualicum Martial Arts.
A seminar will be held March 18-19 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. COVID-19 protocols will be strictly observed.
For more information on junior and senior classes, contact Rainer or Eileen at 752-8607.