Martial artists of all ages from around western Canada will converge in Airdrie on Feb. 4 for a kickboxing and Muay Thai tournament at the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre.
Co-owner and head instructor Luis Cofre said the tournament will welcome over 100 fighters through the centre's doors. Most will be from the greater Calgary region, but he cited a few examples of athletes coming to Airdrie from as far away as Yukon and Manitoba to compete.
“It’s a really good experience for people who are looking for competition and to move up to the next level,” he said “Most people start with training and then move up to the point where they feel like they want to compete.”
Cofre said the Saturday event is a preliminary tournament, meaning for most of the athletes, it will be their first time putting the skills they've developed in training to the test.
“It’s excellent experience and [a platform] to really learn how to put martial arts into motion in real time to make it as effective as possible,” he noted.
This is one of four tournaments the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre hosts every year, according to Cofre. The gym's other marquee events are the semi-annual Trial By Fire kickboxing showdowns, and a women's-only fight night that is held in March to coincide with International Women's Day.
According to Cofre, training is a great way to learn martial arts, but it's important to provide athletes a competitive stage once in a while to gauge their development.
“It’s really important for martial artists to have a place to compete,” he said. “People practice martial arts, but you need to compete to go to the next level. We want to offer to people so they can compete.
“Imagine going to hockey practice, but never playing a game. We want to be able to offer competition to martial artists to keep sharp.”
Saturday's tournament is open to the public to attend. Cofre said the younger athletes will get things going in the early morning, before the older kids take over with their fights in the early afternoon. Then, the adults will cap things off toward the end of the day.
Depending on age and weight class, fights will consist of two 90-second rounds.
“We really draw a wide variety of people who want to compete from all over western Canada,” Cofre said. “Airdrie is really becoming, with our help and us leading the way, a fight hub.”
The Airdrie Martial Arts Centre is located at 28 Gateway Drive NE. For more info on this weekend's tournament, visit airdriemartialartscentre.ca