Three local kickboxers will spar at the WKU Martial Arts World Championships in Greece from October 27th to 30th. Their coach Luraina Undershute-Oddy is impressed with her “keen and dedicated” Rocky Mountain Martial Arts students.

Three of Ms. Undershute-Oddy’s children also qualified for the world championships but the family wasn’t able to raise the funds to attend.

Asked how six athletes from the Columbia Valley qualified for worlds, Ms. Undershute-Oddy – a world champion herself – joked that it’s “because they’re being trained by the best” before praising her students for their perseverance and devotion to their sport.

An accidental victory

Patrick Passmore went to Calgary to compete in a regular kickboxing fight. When he arrived, he was surprised to find out that his match was part of a national-qualifying competition.

“I went to nationals not knowing,” he said. “I thought I was just going for another fight.”

What followed was an even bigger surprise for the 15 year old.

“I ended up kicking butt and people were like cheering me on,” he said.

At the end of his fight, the officials handed him a certificate and invited him to join Team Canada and compete at the world championships.

“Personally I didn’t think I was that good,” Mr. Passmore said, adding that it’s “mind boggling” that he gets to compete on the world stage.

“I guess hard training pays off,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. It will be nice to check something off thebucket list.”

Mr. Passmore’s favourite type of kickboxing is called K-1, which is a round of continuous sparring.

“You just go as hard as you can for those three minutes,” he said. “When you’re fighting, it feels like forever. It’s more up pace. It’s like an actual fight.”

Sometimes he can tell how he’s doing during a round, but when he’s in a close match he has to wait for an official to offer a verdict before he knows if he was the victor.

“I don’t know until the end, until the ref picks up my hand,” he said.

Mr. Passmore is preparing for his upcoming international fights by running nearly every morning, doing kickboxing and crossfit training four days a week and splitting wood on the weekends. He’s been practising with such gusto that he said he almost broke the punching bag by kicking it too hard.

“I really like (kickboxing) so I stuck with it,” he said. “It helps me focus. When you get mad, you just go hit the punching bag… It’s helped me keep calm.”

Mr. Passmore’s immediate priority is preparing for the world championships, but he’s also interested in exploring how his experience there could influence his life in the longer term if he pursues a future career in fitness.

Returning to the world arena

Summer Dixon-Ingham is competing at the world championships for her second time.

“I like the exercise and I generally like fighting but putting it in a positive way,” the 14 year old said. “It makes me feel accomplished.”

Kickboxing also helps her feel safe.

“It feels really good to know that I can take care of myself in that way, like defend myself, and it just gives me a big adrenaline rush that I like,” she said.

Ms. Dixon-Ingham said she is grateful for the expert coaching she has received over the past six years and thanked everyone who contributed financially so she could fight in Greece.

Recruited from the parking lot

Ryan Karl didn’t mean to join kickboxing. He would drop his sons off for their lessons, park in the sun and take a nap as he waited for their classes to end. But those sunny naps came to an abrupt conclusion.

“Luraina and the kids came out one day and started shaking my car and said, ‘Hey, come get your butt in here and train’ and I fell right in love with it,” he said.

That was eight months and 45 pounds ago. Now the construction contractor is about to throw some punches on the world stage.

Mr. Karl is grateful that Ms. Undershute-Oddy coaxed him out of the car and convinced him to try the sport.

“She really showed me that I can be a different person,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without her.”