TIGER BALM INTERNATIONALS

Photos By Joe Kamon

Hidden within Vancouver’s north shore mountains lies the Capilano College Sportsplex, home to the Tiger Balm Internationals–the Pacific northwest’s premier martial arts tournament.

Promoters, Jon Funk and Colleen Butterley were thrilled with this year’s record-breaking success, evident throughout the weekend’s packed floors. This year’s turn out was so large that many divisions were split to accommodate the overflowing participants.

The Tiger Balm Internationals, already well known for the diversity of its martial arts formats, built on last year’s successful expansion. The padded weapons point fighting divisions showed promise. This year, the weapon fighters solidified their place in the tournament by sheer numbers and excitement, this format is here to stay!

One of the highlights of this year’s weapons division was the rematch of the three-section staff and the katana. Josh Schafer of the Praying Mantis Kung Fu Academy dominated last year’s main event with his lightning fast three-section staff. Swordsman, Bill Garton, who lost to Josh during last year’s competition, had been studying tape and practicing new techniques and strategies in anticipation of their inevitable re-match. Josh and his very versatile staff once again proved to be too much to overcome as he struck down all challengers on his way to the gold medal. We look forward to another sequel!

An exciting addition to this year’s evening show was the “Wushu Tricks” competition. This was an acrobatic and aerial challenge that brought together some of martial arts most exciting athletes. Brian Ho, a karate and wushu specialist, Alex Da Silva from the Capoeira Aché Brasil Academy were the stand outs in this thrilling event. Brian’s powerful, high-spinning tornado kicks and Alex Da Silva’s flips, spins, and inhuman body contortions that dropped into perfect landings brought the crowd cheering to their feet. The crowd decided the winner and Alex Da Silva ruled the skies at the Tiger Balms.

The Chinese art of Wushu continues to gain momentum with the 2008 Summer Olympics being awarded to Beijing, China where Wushu will be a demonstration sport. Hollywood stuntman, Bruce Fontaine’s Action Team performance showcased some of Canada’s potential Olympic future.

Kickboxing also made a strong statement during the night show with the Champions Kickboxing school bringing out a young performance team, ranging from small kids to late teens, to show the crowd what powerful kicking was all about.

The final demonstration brought an entire Capoeira troupe, complete with traditional musical instruments, to perform their acrobatic and interactive martial dance.

And of course, the championship fights; Sanchu and Sport Jujitsu showed that skill must be accompanied with toughness to be a champion in these formats. Well done!

Events this year included: Sport Jujitsu, Sanchu, WKC Continuous Fighting, SKIL Point Fighting, Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do, Padded Weapons Sparring, Wushu, Tai Chi, Push Hands, Breaking, and countless forms divisions for virtually every style, traditional and contemporary.

A salute to all those who helped take the Tiger Balm Internationals to a new level. Congratulations to all those who took their training and experience to a new level. See you all next year!