Hardknocks hosts kickboxing
By Katy James
THE MENACE AIN’T GOT NOTHIN’ ON ME. A future
street tough gets ready to hone the skills that will be useful
in his future as an armoire thief. Who said kids couldn’t
be trained to kill anyways?
A clean, fair fight is for many people a contradiction. But for
others, a query about the time and location of the match is the
initial response. For the latter, this past Sunday at Hardknocks
on Dundas St. — London’s only K1, kickboxing and Muay
Thai gym — gave visitors just that opportunity, with some
Thai culture mixed in.
Owner, trainer and North American kickboxing champion Shawn Tompkins
held London’s first ever Muay Thai and K1 inter-club sparring
exhibition, an exciting change of pace for an otherwise dreary
Sunday afternoon. The turnout was large, with over 200 Londoners
of all ages watching.
The specifics of the different fighting techniques: K1, Muay Thai
and kickboxing can be confusing for the uninitiated. Muay Thai
is an ancient Thai ceremony and tradition that focuses on the skill
of clenching and kneeing. Kickboxing focuses on punching and kicking,
and as of 1985, was made illegal in Ontario at the amateur level.
K1 fighting has its origins in Japan and is similar to the other
forms, but fighters can’t knee or elbow to the head.
The weekend exhibition had seven fights in total, with fighters
from all over Ontario, including two local Canadian champions and
two of Western’s own — Mckenry Charles and Lola Braimo
from King’s College.
The fighters’ skills shone through with their agility and
intricate techniques. Ten-year-old spectators (and twin sisters)
Johnie and Carley voiced their opinion about the event: “It’s
awesome and fun to watch.”
COME DA PAIN!" North American kickboxing champ Shawn Tompkins
(left) grapples with his opponent last weekend during an
exhibition at Hardknocks on Dundas St.
The young girls watched intently, later agreeing that despite
its violent nature, the sport still held their interest. “It’s
interesting because they fight each other but then they hug and
they’re friends after,” the girls added. The innocence
of their statement shouldn’t be so easily accredited to the
naiveté of the girls; the violence and anger that one associates
with fighting was overwhelmed on Sunday by the professionalism
and good sportsmanship of the fighters.
Charles, a 2001 chemistry graduate from Western, has been training
with Tompkins for seven months. Charles’ skill and commitment
to the sport was evident in his response to questions about violence. “I
just want to train,” he said. “I don’t believe
in fighting, but you should be able to defend yourself.”
Training is an essential part of any sport, but the best training
for martial arts comes from match experience and competition. Tompkins
has been teaching for 12 years and fighting for most of his life.
He promotes the idea of training through experience and is proud
of his method. “My fighters are the best in Canada because
I give them a venue to train in.”
Tompkins feels strongly about the sport and even more strongly
about the people he trains; he refers to his trainees as his “family.” Tompkins
is dedicated to his students and explains his commitment easily: “I
love what I do.”
Last Sunday, the modest gym was filled with a sense of camaraderie,
skill, culture and commitment, a restraint to any potential contempt
for the sport and its violent nature. The next event will be held
in March and anyone interested in more information can contact
Tompkins at Hardknocks at 451-1211.