A Langley karate club has returned from the 2018 Karate Canada National Championships with six gold medals and one silver.
Swaraj Aravindhan, Jordan Treivish, Khyber Barnett and Chandan Teja took gold medals in both the Junior and Senior Team Kata (Male) categories.
Kata is a Japanese word for “form.”
In karate, Kata consists of competitors demonstrating their fighting skills by performing a sequence of punches and kicks, as many as 70 moves, generally with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form.
Nika Najafi took silver in the individual junior female Kumite (sparring) in the 59 kg. class.
It was the best outing yet for the eight-year-old Langley club coached by Najafi, a former Iranian National Team member, who has a black belt 7th dan from the Japan Shotokan Karate Association and a 7th degree Black Belt from Karate Canada.
The three-day event in Halifax (March 9 to 11) drew 500 athletes from across the country.
The KimNik competitors were part of the largest B.C. team to ever attend the national championships, with 111 athletes who brought back 77 medals (not including fourth place finishes), seven of them accounted for by the Walnut Grove contingent.
“That is quite a good ratio,” said B.C. Karate coach Kamelia Fard.
All of the KimNik athletes are now technically qualified to represent Canada at the Pan Am games.
They are no strangers to the winners podium.
Khyber Barnett, who travels from Vancouver to train at the Langley dojo, has 11 national medals plus numerous international medals to his credit so far, most of them gold, and has been ranked number five in the world in in Junior Male Kata.
“I came in especially to do team Kata with these guys,” Barnett said.
Swaraj Aravindhan was the subject of a Times profile in 2014 that told the story of his comeback after becoming paralyzed from the waist down because of transverse myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord.
His parents and physiotherapists credited his unwavering motivation, positive attitude and increased agility and flexibility from karate with aiding his remarkably fast recovery.
Now, he’s aiming for the Pan Am games in August.
“After that, sometimes, you can get to the world championships,” Aravindhan said.
Among his medals, Chandan Teja previously won gold in the 2017 National Championships in the Team Kata competition.
Teja said he got hooked on karate once he got his first taste of it.
“I was first doing it just for the physical aspect of it, but once I realized I could go so much further with it … then I just figured, why not try it,” Teja said.
Jordan Treivish has been doing karate for five years, but “I’ve always done some sort of martial arts through my whole life, really.”
He comes by it honestly. His mother used to be in the sport.
Nika Najafi, who among other awards, took the National Champion (gold medalist) in Kumite in 2017, enjoyed testing her skills against the best the country has to offer at the 2018 event.
The 15-year-old fought against older competitors in the 16-17 class.
“It was a great experience just being able to compete with people who are best in Canada from all the provinces,” she said.
Najafi, whose father happens to be the Sensei of the dojo, often spars with her parent, launching kicks just inches away from his jaw.
When asked, she admits that, occasionally, she has hit her dad by accident.
“I have,” she laughs. “But we just forgive each other and move on.”
The 2018 edition of Team B.C. set several new records, including:
- Most gold medals ever won by B.C. at a national championship (26, previous record 24).
- Most medals ever won (89 including fourth place results, 80 previous record).
- Biggest B.C. team ever (111, 107 previous record)
- Most coaches (13)
- More than double the previous year’s silver medals (30, previous year 13).
The B.C. team was the first place province in both gold medals and aggregate medal count for the second year in a row
Rodney Hobson, Team B.C. director, was elated.
“I would like to extend a huge thank you to the amazing, cohesive and hardworking B.C. team coaching staff who worked long days on little sleep to support our amazing athletes … Pam Ross, Matt Bickel, Hamid Tarighatbin, Kalan Anglos, Kamelia Fard,” Hobson said.
“The club coaches were amazing to work with and I’m very grateful for their time and dedication to their athletes.”
The next national championships will be held in Toronto in March 2019.