Karate duo medal in Ireland
Making it to Ireland was a feat in itself, so when Dat Le and Kade Kleinknecht came back from the World Karate Commission’s World Championships with medals, that was just a bonus.
Le, 19 and Kleinknecht, 17, competed at the event last month and brought home plenty more than hardware, however.
“Other than a physical medal I brought back a lot of knowledge,” said Le, who was second in Chinese style forms in his 18-and-over age division. “There were a couple seminars, some current world champs, some old former world champs, they threw a couple seminars, some things on your footwork, how to read your opponent.
“It was just the small things. Learning this style of fighting was such a different thing... they teach the next generation.”
Kleinknecht took silver in 15-17-year-old Chinese forms and added a bronze in the under-75 kilogram sparring division.
“Just knowing that we competed at that level, it really boosted our confidence,” he said. “We know what we have to work on for the next one.”
They both seem pretty certain there will be a next one, and soon. The 2019 WKC worlds are in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Though the road to qualifying requires doing well at provincials and then nationals, they’d like to see more fellow athletes from their home dojo, Blue Dragon Martial Arts in downtown Medicine Hat, get there.
Sheridan Mergel also qualified to go to Ireland but didn’t make the trip this time — she’d been to worlds once already. Le was never in doubt as to whether he’d attend while Kleinknecht took a bit longer before deciding the rare opportunity was worth it. Was it what he expected? “More,” he said. “It’s so different from any karate tournament we’ve ever done.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of the competition was the setting. Aside from the fact it was in Dublin, a grand ballroom hosted the eight rings according to Le and the opening ceremonies were memorable.
Getting to compete against and learn from martial artists from around the world was important, too.
“I had no idea what to expect,” said Kleinknecht. “When I first got in the ring it was crazy hard. But a great learning experience.”
Dat Le (left) and Kade Kleinknecht pose with a Canadian flag in Dublin, Ireland last month, where they competed at WKC World Championships.