Penticton black belt Dixon Bertrand kicking for more

Dixon Bertrand is taking his nine years of experience to the provincial stage at the 2014 BC Masters Cup Taekwondo tournament in Vancouver.

Dixon Bertrand (left) spars with instructor Mike Adams at the ValleyWide Taekwondo gym on Oct 18. Bertrand is preparing for his first competition as a registered black belt at the 2014 BC Master's Cup on Nov. 1 in Vancouver.

Dixon Bertrand is taking his nine years of experience to the provincial stage at the 2014 BC Masters Cup Taekwondo tournament in Vancouver on Nov. 1.

The Penticton man has been to the tournament before, but this trip marks the first time he will be entered as an official black belt, a prospect that will open doors to national tournaments.

“My goal is to get to the national level and compete at one of those tournaments,” Bertrand said.

His instructor, Mike Adams, opened ValleyWide Taekwondo in 1997 and currently has nearly 90 students under him.

Adams says this province-wide tournament is an important stepping stone for young competitors. It’s an opportunity to gain both valuable experience and points that will lead to funding and national-level opportunities.

“The main thing for (competitors) at this stage in the game is to gain experience, as they gain experience and do well they starts collecting points, as they collect points it gives them more funding at their national level,” Adams said.

The Masters Cup is sanctioned under the World Taekwondo Federation, an organization associated with the Summer Olympic Games.

“They’re kind of feeder tournaments in to getting these guys ready for international level competition,” Adams said.

Adams notes that Bertrand has competed at the provincial level, but this time he has an opportunity to earn a shot at a much larger level of competition.

“He’s done other tournaments but this is really the first time we’re taking a run at fighting at the provincial level, and hopefully moving up to the national level,”Adams said.

After nine years of training, Bertrand has got the techniques down. Now Adams is helping sharpen the finer points of his game.

“He’s got a good foundation of technique, but what we’re trying to really build on at this point is his conditioning, so that he doesn’t fade when he fights,” Adams said.

Along with keeping up his stamina, Bertrand will be working on something that changes fight to fight: strategy.

“It’s not just going out there and punching and kicking it’s building a game plan. Knowing what your opponent brings to the table, and trying to build a game plan around what they’re bringing to you,” Adams said.

It’s that variety and continuing challenge that has kept Bertrand coming back to the sport for nearly a decade.

“You can know the techniques, but it’s always a challenge that’s ongoing. It’s never going to be the same aspects, you’ll be going against people and they have different game plans, so it changes for every person that you spar,” Bertrand said. “I’m nervous and excited at the same time.”

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