Bottom row (L-R): Sheina Balaswit, Kyle Dalandan; Middle row (L-R): Jayzelle Policarpio, Lee Angela Igne, Lynn Igne, Mia Dalandan, Liane Dalandan; Top row (L-R): Sedrich Balaswit, Jeddriel Florendo, Mark Soriano, Amiel De Villa, Red Igne Jr
Photo credit: Kelly Legaspi

Manitoba’s members of Team Canada 2022 brought pride and honour once again not only to the province but also to the country after they won a total of 20 medals at the World Karate Championships held in Killarney, Ireland last October 8-13, 2022.

Seven gold, four silver and 9 bronze medals were hauled by 12 martial arts athletes of Winnipeg Sikaran Arnis Academy who represented Team Manitoba for Team Canada at the said annual martial arts competition.

From Team Manitoba to Team Canada, WSAA members come home as World Champions

The WKC World Championships are an annual martial arts competition where competitors from all over the world assemble to test their skills against the best in their particular discipline. For the competitors to be eligible to attend the world championships, they must be selected to represent their country by their National Team President by competing at their National Championships, training camps or a series of regional tournaments.

In Manitoba. WSAA was the only team ready to send athletes. They got accredited to be the official provincial team.

“Instead of bearing the WSAA name, we became the WKC Team Manitoba,” shared Kelly Legaspi, WSAA instructor and administrator.

After the official announcement and invite to the World Karate Championships 2022 was released last February, WSAA started their journey to the biggest tournament to date that they will be competing in. They flew to Ottawa, Ontario in May for the WKC Canadian National Team Try Outs and successfully made it, from being Team Manitoba to being Team Canada.

In August, they’ve reached out to family, friends, and community through a fundraising to support their trip.

Extended hours of training came next until they all travelled to Ireland for the big tournament last October 5.

In Killarney, Ireland, Team Manitoba joined the rest of 118 martial arts athletes representing Team Canada 2022. Hundreds of athletes from around the world competed in different categories. As expected, Team Manitoba did not disappoint after all 12 members won medals in their categories.

“Canada did very, very well this time. And Manitoba too. For the first time in history, the delegation of Manitoba from national, 100% they got it. At the world’s, 100% also, because there are only 12 of them but they all took home (medals). Ayun ‘yung nakakataba ng puso. (That is heartwarming),” Legaspi said.

But if there was one proud moment of Team Canada at the WKC, it was when WSAA instructor, Angela Igne, performed the Filipino weaponry ARNIS on the world’s stage.

“WSAA has done a lot of “firsts,” and this is another one – first time that the Filipino Arnis form was ever performed on world’s stage through Angela,” said Legaspi who is also the mother of Angela.

Legaspi considers the WKC as their biggest accomplishment so far and is grateful to all who have been part in making this journey possible.

Asked about what’s next for WSAA, Legaspi said that they would continue training and joining tournaments.

In fact, as of this writing, WSAA is en route to Minneapolis for the US Diamond Nationals.

“We push every kid to be in a tournament because that’s what makes them athletes,” Kelly said.

Winnipeg Sikaran Arnis Academy was founded by the couple, Red Igne and Kelly Legaspi in 2004 with 70 members currently.

Photo credits: Kelly Legaspi and Noel Dalandan