Two months of karate training was all Michael Houg needed to shake off two years worth of rust.
Houg won the men’s grand championship during the 2011 Chito-Ryu Friendship tournament held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on Saturday.
Born and raised in Prince Geroge, Houg recently moved to Peachland to be able to train with senseis Chris Taneda and Mike Ditson. It was an unexpected win for Houg considering the effort needed to be ready. He praised the work that Taneda and Ditson did with him.
“Things came back quicker than I hoped,” said Houg, who holds a brown belt. “All the people were good. It was a tough match every time.”
His final match was against a Burnaby opponent was closer. At that stage of the tournament, Houg said he was “gassed” and to get through it, he had to compete smarter.
“He’s a pretty big guy (six-foot-three, 200 pounds) and pretty athletic,” said Taneda. “He won both his divisions and then we let him fight in the black belt division and he beat the black belt.”
Houg felt the weekend was excellent and liked that the accommodations were in the same place as the competition. He enjoyed the chance to compete with other karate students in the province as it allowed them to be serious on the mat, then friends away from it as they socialized during a banquet and dance.
“It’s great you can beat a person up in the tournament then later be friends,” he said. “It’s an important aspect of the tournament since it isn’t about results. It’s about togetherness.”
The grand women’s champ was 16-year-old Claire Boothe of Summerland. She defeated Avneet Kaloty of Kelowna and it was Boothe’s debut competing in the women’s division of the Chito-Ryu Friendship tournament. Boothe said it was a good step up and provided valuable experience.
“Being in a women’s division, it’s more competitive and intense,” said Boothe, who began practicing karate at age six.
The tournament also helps her prepare for bigger events.
“It’s good to start out small and then work your way up,” she said.
Leading into the tournament, Boothe didn’t expect to win because she hadn’t trained as much due to other commitments and injury. It was also her first tournament since nationals in March. Boothe said her victory was just a result of things working out as it was a close match with Kaloty, who is her friend. While Kaloty is a year younger, the two fought since Boothe was the only competitor in her age group.
“It was a tough match because she is a strong fighter,” said Boothe, who also officiated during the tournament. “I had to react quickly.”
Boothe enjoyed the encounter with Kaloty because she likes competing against her friends.
“In the end, it brings you closer together,” said Boothe, who respects Kaloty. “You go in and fight hard.”
The tournament for Boothe was about gaining experience and seeing other students from the province. She said it’s great to see faces they don’t often have a chance to
“It’s a great atmosphere,” she added. “The people are friends and are respectful.”
Taneda was impressed with how his students performed as the calibre in participants is increasing. Along with the grand champions, participants were recognized with sportsmanship awards. One went to an autistic competitor from the north while another went to Penticton’s Jackson Tribe. Taneda was impressed by the seven-year-old autistic boy because he was always smiling.
“There were really some outstanding performances,” said Taneda.