With so many splinter organizations and styles, the sport of karate has yet to be accepted into the Olympic Games.
Isaac Ickovich is confident it’ll happen one day, however, and when it does, he plans to be ready to compete for Canada.
The 14-year-old competed for the first time in the World Martial Arts Games in Richmond earlier this month, winning gold in the judged self-defence category and bronze in both point sparring and continuous sparring, an event much like kickboxing.
“I’ve been to lots of tournaments, but this was top-notch, amazing,” he said back home in Langford. “I was just very glad to compete for my country and be at one of the biggest stages next to the Olympics. Just getting a medal is the cherry on top.”
The ninth annual tournament – the first was held in Victoria in 2006 – was the first for WMAG as a member of TAFISA, a ‘Sport for All’ organization supported by the International Olympic Committee.
Approximately 180 athletes from a dozen or so countries competed in Richmond.
“It’s truly amazing. It shows what sport can do to bring countries together,” Ickovich said of the event, which inspired a real sense of camaraderie and celebration not unlike the Olympics, he added.
Ickovich, a Spencer middle school Grade 9 student and first dan black belt who trains in the Shotokan style under sensei Raj Basi at Canada’s Best Karate in Langford, competed in the 13- and 14-year-old black belt division.
A strapping six-foot-four, he was easily the tallest in his category and used his size to good advantage.
The self-defence event, which sees the athlete work with an attacking partner, includes six moves which the pair must first do slow, then fast. Ickovich received marks of 9.6 across the board, best in the field.
Point sparring is somewhat like kickboxing, with punches and kicks, but the action stops when points are scored. Ickovich easily won his bronze medal match 7-2, after nearly making it to the final. Down 6-0 midway through the semifinal, he charged back to make it 6-6 and force sudden death overtime, where he lost by one point.
Ickovich won bronze with a unanimous decision in his final continuous sparring match, after losing a split decision in the semifinal. Fighters go two 90-second rounds and judges determine round and match winners based on connected punches and kicks, technique and movements.
“I’m hoping to get back for the next one … and this time I want to go for a sweep,” Ickovich said.
As for keeping the Olympics in his sights, he is excited about the prospect of karate’s acceptance into the Summer Games based on the TAFISA connection, and figures he may just be about the right age to qualify by the time it happens.
“I definitely see (Olympics) down the road, I really want to be an Olympic athlete.”