In 1939, Hironori Otsuka, developed a type of karate called Wado Kai, which translates to "Way of Peace and Harmony." The name essentially says it all as Quinn Brown of (18) Arcola explains of his time with Moose Mountain Wado Kai Karate and the ways that it has helped him grow as a person.
Brown first took up karate six years ago as an activity to take the place of hockey.
"I was in hockey and just decided to try something else," Brown explained. "Savannah [Bryce] and Chance [Smith]did a demonstration at school, so I talked to them about it."
In short time he quickly developed a passion for the activity as it became an integral part of his life, influencing who he has become today.
"It has helped me grow as a person," Brown stated. "In situations outside of karate, it helps me keep calm. I enjoy it, it's unique, and I've just fallen in love with karate. I plan to keep doing it for however long I can."
Though Brown has only been in karate for six years, his commitment and dedication has allowed him to achieve a first degree black belt this year.
"It's really fast actually, I've met people who've been doing it, that I graded with, who have been doing it for about 12 years," Brown explained. "So, it was pretty fast, but our club had two gradings we could do each year and I was fortunate enough to get graded in both of those."
Speaking specifically of his black belt experience, Brown says it took a lot of mental preparation and physical practice.
"To get your black belt you need to know all of your katas for each grade, for example to get from white to yellow you need to know a certain kata and you keep going up," Brown stated. "As you progress, you not only need to learn a new one but, you have to improve on the ones before. So, when you get to black belt, you have about six or seven katas to do, plus you have to spend at least a year as a brown belt."
"That's just the technical stuff, then there's putting all of the work into it. It's not something you just start training for a week before you go into it."
Gradings involve three mandatory parts and one optional aspect. The first part involves the basics, which includes the different stances, punches, kicks, and blocks one knows.
"You do it slow and show all of your form, then you show them your power, but power with control," Brown explained.
The second part focuses on the katas, which are a series of choreographed moves to simulate a situation where the individual is fighting multiple opponents. These are done slowly, in sequence whichever way you're facing (all the moves to the right if you turn right) and then at your own speed.
"The last time they send you through it's on your own time, so you're showing off your stances, power, control, and speed all in one," Brown explained.
The final mandatory aspect of being graded during his black belt was the two-step. Brown explained that it is a very controlled aspect where "you and a partner are facing off against each other, the one partner will throw a punch and you block-counter kind of thing, and they'll just do different things. He'll throw a kick so you block the kick, set it down, sweep it, punch."
The final, optional session then involves the kumite which is the actual fighting. This aspect isn't necessary because some people are injured and are unable to partake in this aspect. Brown thoroughly enjoys this aspect because it allows him to put his training together in a fun way with fellow karate enthusiasts.
"That's more exciting than the others and it's kind of neat," Brown stated. "I did [my black belt grading] in Edison, AB, so I had never met any of the people there before. I had seen a couple people that I recognized but it's just cool because you get to fight totally different people."
Fighting is something that Brown says is secondary to what karate's focus is on: "In the mental way you stay calm and from being there it's all about discipline and respect, so even in the outside world here I find myself in situations and I'll just kind of be thinking of it from a karate mindset, not like karate - fighting - but discipline and respect."
"In the kumite you've got to watch out because there's no contact to the face, so you have to think you're going to score this point, but you're not going to hit them. You make sure you could have, but you have to stop a couple inches from their face."
Ultimately Brown says that the lessons karate teaches are very important.
"It focuses on respect and responsibility, but it really helps you become better physically and is a great mental activity making you a better person all around."
Although Brown is extremely athletic having participated in volleyball, baseball, track and field, and more, he explains that karate doesn't necessarily require one to be at their physical peak.
"The mental aspect is probably the biggest though. You don't have to be super-athletic to do this, but you need the mind to take what you have, work with it, accept the criticism, fix it, and try to have the best techniques you can," Brown stated, encouraging people to take up karate as a great physical activity for anyone to take part in.
Achieving a black belt essentially takes the commitment of training for it and being mentally willing to put in the work.
"It's been countless hours," Brown said of his karate training. "The first year maybe I was putting in two hours a week; then for a couple years after that I'd be putting in three and a half hours per week; then later on we started doing a Thursday session at Built 4 Life, so that was an extra session and it turned into about five hours a week. Then there's stuff I did on my own too."
This dedication, passion, and love for karate factor into why Brown was able to achieve his black belt in six years.
"I advanced so quickly through it because I put so much work into it, you can't just go through the ranks like that without putting in the time; you've got to practice hard for it."
"You look up to the older sensei's that are 7th, 8th degree [black belts], where you can't even be graded for the degree until you're, like 55-years-old, I don't know the ages exactly, and then you have to spend so much time at a national level even."
It's this level that Brown would one day hope to achieve. For many karate is an activity they enjoy and is simply great exercise which focuses on qualities they like. Though Brown feels this way as well he also has aspirations to continue moving up the ranks.
"The amount of work that goes in there [to be a 7th or 8th degree black belt], and it's interesting to watch the higher up ranks because to truly get to that point where karate becomes your life would be awesome," Brown stated. "It just hooks you in. You meet tons of people too. It just makes opportunities."
When asked what advice he has for others possibly interested in karate, Brown simply smiles and says: "Approach it with an open mind. Everyone thinks of karate as you're going in there and just punching and kicking people. There's a lot more to karate than that."
"You have to keep in mind the respect. That's showing respect to elder senseis, people of your rank, people below your rank, everyone. The punching and kicking comes later."
Brown will be heading to Regina soon to begin his first year of university. He has been accepted into the pre-med program and is looking forward to school. However, he was especially happy to find a karate club there to keep up his training.
"It'll be fun for sure and it will be nice to keep at it, that was one thing I didn't want to go to a place where there wasn't a karate club," Brown stated.
The Moose Mountain Wado Kai Karate Club hosts classes at the Carlyle Elementary School and contact information can be found on their website, www.moosemountainkarate.com.
"It's something unique to try, we go three sessions [September to November, December to February, and March to May] so you can even join in for a couple weeks and just see how you like it."