fering slightly, no two katas might be entirely the same.
Karate, says Mark, is a sport that both boys and girls can enjoy. He wanted to give his daughter a strong knowledge of self-defence in case she should ever have to use it, while sharing his passion for the sport with her.
His voice glowing with pride, he describes how Adee and a classmate were able to easily take out two older, stronger boys with their skills.
“The other night, I told two 16-year-old boys to try their best to get on top of these girls and hold them down. One was a junior black belt and the other was ready for his black belt, and my two girls, they couldn’t do anything with them,” Mark says.
“They’d try to get on them and they’d spin them off. They were surprised.”
Until recently, Mark ran his own karate school, but he recently closed and joined Young’s Uechi Ryu — loosely translated, it refers to the “way” of karate taught at the school, named after the master that developed it. But, he still trains his daughter, enjoying the bonding time it gives them.
“In all these years — and she’s into her tenth year of it now — she’s never sighed and not wanted to come to karate,” he says. ous,” she said.
She won her first match, then lost to a competitor from Quebec. In the final match-up, the other girl got a point in the final seconds, resulting in a “frustrating” finish.
Adee ended up placing fifth in her age and weight group out of 10 competitors from across Canada — a great placing, says her dad.
Travelling is something that appeals to Adee, who loves the fact that her karate competitions give her the opportunity to travel across Canada.
“It was really fun at nationals, especially seeing Vancouver, and there were thousands of people there,” she said.
“I like to travel, to go places, and even if it’s just to compete in karate, I like to go there.”
With Team Nova Scotia, there are a number of competitions held, and Adee is already eyeing Atlantics next fall in PEI and nationals next February in Quebec. Recently, she’s been competing in the 12-13 girls’ class, but also moving up to the next age group to test her skills against older competitors.
“At first, I didn’t think I’d win — these girls were another two years older, and I was really nervous,” she said. “Some of these girls are really good, but I focused on what I would do to counter their techniques and tried to figure out the moves they would make.”
That’s the key to success in karate, she says: always being aware of what move your competitor is going to make and quickly responding.
“You have to focus,” she said. “Your competitors could telegraph what they’re going to do and if you see something, that’s when you need to move or attack.”
It takes a lot of work to reach this level of competition.
Adee has a purple belt and hopes to achieve her junior black belt by age 14 and her adult black belt by
16, the minimum age a student must be before they are eligible.
And she puts the work in to achieve those dreams, regularly practicing five times a week.
“It’s lots of hard training, good practicing,” she says.
That’s something of a family saying, explains her dad.
“I always say a perfect practice makes perfect,” he explains. “It’s not practice that makes perfect, because even if you practice all day, if you’re doing it sloppy or wrong, you’re not going to get better.”
Practices involve drills, fast movements to get Adee’s feet moving and lots of cardio. Her favourite skill is kicking and punching, but she also excels at her katas, often bringing home numerous medals from competitions.
Competing at this level also means dealing with the inevitable injuries that comes along with it. Over the past year, she’s broken a collarbone while doing a jujitsu front roll and dislocated an ankle while doing karate.
That’s OK, she says. Her classmates in Grade 7 at Evangeline Middle School think her karate skills are “pretty cool,” she says.
“They think I’m really tough and say they don’t want to get on my bad side,” she laughs.
Adee plans to continue to study karate for a few more years, at least until she finishes high school. In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, karate will be included in the competitions, and while she’s not ruling out competing at the highest level, she admits that’s a long way away.
For now, though, she encourages other kids — and adults — to consider trying karate.
“Anybody can do it. They don’t need to be athletic to do it,” she says.