By Craig Baird
It was 20 years ago this year that two young men, Craig McAuley and Leroy Gorski, decided to create a club dedicated to karate training. Gorski, who lived in Maple Creek, wished to continue his training and asked McAuley, a black belt, if he would consider setting up a club in Maple Creek. McAuley agreed. Since McAuley was driving down from Saskatoon, the two men decided to start a club in Gull Lake to make it worth his while. For the first few years, McAuley drove down every Sunday to conduct classes in Gull Lake, then over to Maple Creek, and then back home.
“The club owes its existence to the early dedication of those two men,” Cal Deobald, instructor with Cypress Kempo Karate Club said.
Two decades later, the club is going strong in both Gull Lake and Maple Creek. To celebrate the milestone, a special event will be held at the Gull Lake Hall on Saturday, Mar. 1, at 12:30 p.m.
“The celebration will begin much like any class, with a stretching session, then a workout and some skill training. After that though, students will have the opportunity to show their form. They will also play various “sparring” games and spar with various participants,” Deobald said. “The atmosphere is entirely non-competitive, and observers may be surprised to see participants of all ages and belt levels together in the ring.”
Everyone is welcome to come out and watch the celebration, and a special invitation is extended to former club members in the community to come out and say hello.
Deobald has been a part of the club almost since the beginning.
“I missed the first class. My sons were interested in joining, so I brought them but as I was watching, I had a bit of an epiphany and decided it was time I did something for my own physical and mental well-being,” Deobald said. “It was also something I could do with my sons, so that was an added bonus. I’ve been with the club ever since.”
Mr. Knight, the instructor in Maple Creek, has also been with the club since the very beginning.
“We are the only two current members who have watched the club develop over the entire 20 years,” Deobald said.
As for the club itself, it is open to anyone who wants to improve their body and mind.
“I’m sure most people who join have one or two initial goals in mind: either improved physical fitness or self-defence,” Deobald said. “Both are legitimate. Certainly, martial arts promotes virtually all aspects of physical well-being; strength, speed, agility, balance and flexibility. It is true that participants will, over time, be better able to defend themselves in an emergency situation.”
Deobald goes on to state that there is much more to offer in martial arts, including providing a lifetime of learning possibilities.
“Remember that the arts were originally developed by monks who dedicated their entire lives to the study, so those of us who dabble in training a couple times a week can’t possibly hope to exhaust the learning possibilities,” Deobald said. “As an instructor, I know I’ve done my job if, at the end of the class, the students are complaining that their brains are tired.”
Martial arts can develop self-esteem while encouraging humility and it fosters a positive attitude toward oneself and others, according to Deobald.
The entire atmosphere of the club is friendly.
“Martial arts has a way of filtering out those with poor attitude. Most realize within a very short time that classes don’t provide them with the kind of reinforcement they were looking for and leave, “Deobald said. “What you are left with is a group of people who are supportive, a non-threatening environment that encourages mistakes as part of the learning process.”
Anyone can join over the course of the year. The program is structured to help each member develop at their own level, with no start or finish.
“Martial arts is a lifetime of personal growth.”