AAU Karate Nationals 2018

On June 28th – 30th, 18 athletes along with their families and coach ventured into the of heat competition at the AAU Karate National Championships to compete among America’s best karate athletes within the Amateur Athletic Union. The AAU was founded in 1888 in the USA and is among the oldest sporting organization in the hemisphere. It was, at one point, the representative of the Olympics for its country until the USOC was created. Since then, the AAU has been an athlete development program representing athletes within the school system nationally.

As a development program, AAU Karate has the liberty to have overseas athletes attend their national program for an inclusive and international event which means a greater competition base for the athletes. Countries like Romania and Serbia were also a part of the competition for 2018.

Team Meibukan’s athletes for 2018 is made up of beginner white belts to expert black belts from 7 to 54 years old. As with each and every year, our athletes challenge themselves to become the best that they can possibly be for that day. Fighting injuries, nerves, fear, fevers, and exhaustion, come with the territory of an elite level competition. Also however, so does meeting new friends, reaching new levels, creating healthy bonds, learning how to deal with challenges, learning how to support each other through difficult times. Because of this, there are no losers on Team Meibukan.

This year, our 18 athletes returned with 26 medals. The medal list is as follows:

  • Kayla Jackson – Silver Kobudo/Gold Kata/Gold Kumite
  • Kai Lin – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata/Gold Kumite
  • Zachary Chin – Gold Kobudo/Gold Kata
  • Lara Kwaipun – Gold Kobudo/Gold Kata
  • Daniel Kwaipun – Gold Kata/Silver Kumite
  • Cassidy Truong – Silver Kobudo/Gold Kata
  • Cadence Truong – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata
  • Joanne Tran – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata
  • Stan Yamashita – Silver Kata/Bronze Kumite
  • Erica Chin – Gold Kobudo
  • Koa Yamashita – Silver Kata
  • Michaella Co – Bronze Kumite
  • Tiago Piesz – Bronze Kumite
  • Ryan Koo – Bronze Kobudo
  • Ethan Co – Bronze Kata

The success of the team is often measured by podium finishes but those of us who compete understand that the value of intangibles far outweigh any podium placement in a healthy competitive environment which the AAU is continually emphasizing. Parents and family members pitched in to help with the myriad of logistics. Brenna Lin, Tyler Lin, Kai Lin, Daniel Kwaipun, and Ethan Co did double duty as both competitors and assistant coaches. Parents came together to create positive experiences for the athletes. Stephanie Chin was clearly the backbone as she seemed to be always one step ahead of us. Knowing which athlete was next, and readying all the paperwork. Rob Chin and Elaine Truong spent hours organizing and picking up all team dinners. Darryl Jackson lugged all of the team’s bulky luggage to and from Florida. Tyler Quick who always had his focus mitts ready to go whenever the athletes need it. Mary Lin and Rachel Lam who always seemed to carry their TARDIS of a purse which had everything from needle and thread to first aid equipment. Stan Yamashita who created the team’s wonderful video and acted and as photographer. Of course, Joe, Kenneth, Jimmy, Bryan, Tracey, Ardell, Helen, and Charlene were of remarkable support who made sure everything went without a hitch.

What it Means To Be On a Team

by Tiago Peisz

To be on a team means trusting everyone on the team without a doubt. Even if you have not seen them for a while you never forget the trust you once built. It also means that you never break the trust and friendship no matter how long you were apart or separated. Just like when I was separated from my team for a couple of months. Every time I practiced or even thought about karate, I would remember all the great people and the great times we had together. That is why I went to the competition in Albany, New York [on March 3rd, 2018]. Even though I was practicing privately, I hadn’t practiced at the dojo and with a team in months. I really missed the team aspect of the sport.


Despite the fact that I lost the one match I competed in, it was a great experience. It was very rewarding watching the people on my team win so many medals and do their personal best. I also learned that there was a lot I could improve on. My teammates had clearly been practicing a lot together and it showed. The last time I competed I had practiced just as much and I noticed a difference. So the lesson this experience taught me is that hard work really does pay off and that there is no substitute for a solid team. So in the end I do not consider it a loss at all but rather a valuable learning experience in the company of some good people.


Coach’s Side Note:
At just 11 years old, Tiago has been with NOX Dojo what seems like forever. It was a sad day for all of us when we discovered that he was moving away. As a part of our sport karate team, he truly came into his own in the 2017 season where he made podium in both the AAU Nationals and Jr. Olympics. Mom and Dad are extremely supportive which clearly contributes to his success. When we heard that he truly wanted to make the effort for Albany, the team embraced the opportunity. Sporting gorgeous red hair, he sets the mat on fire when he competes in kumite. Never one to shy away from a challenge, his fearless spirit inspires us. Keep up the great work Tiago and we hope to see you more often.


Olympic Possibilities

karate-in-olympicsIt is now official. Karate is an Olympic sport for 2020 in Tokyo. Champion karate athletes are coming out of retirement, new people are interested in joining the movement, and the karate world has been turned upside down.

So what now?

Team Meibukan have been competing the AAU Karate circuit for quite some time. The AAU is a USA based group that have been involved in promoting amateur sports for over 100 years. Since 1888, the AAU program has developed athletes like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Lebron James. Up until 1978, with the formation of the United States Olympic Committee, they were the Olympic representative for the USA.

The AAU Karate circuit was chosen by the coach of Team Meibukan because of its balanced philosophy of winning in sport and winning in life. There is a culture of mutual respect among the parents, athletes, officials, coaches, and tournament promoters which honours the game and encourages athletes to stay in the dojo. Another reason is because the Canadian stream does not have a strong traditional karate circuit for under black belt athletes that will lead them into a national level competition. The AAU does…and does so well within positive environment.

Now that Karate is an Olympic sport, there are a few athletes in Team Meibukan that could be of the right age in 2020. These athletes deserve an opportunity to present themselves in front of Karate Canada via our Provincial Sport Organization which is Karate Ontario. This will result in a the development of second tier of elite athletes. Criteria for these athletes are:

  • Must have competed in AAU Karate for 2 years
  • Must be qualified or capable of competing at Black Belt level.
  • Must commit to strict training schedule

The 2016/2017 Team Meibukan tiers are as follows:

  • Elite A – Karate Canada stream, AKA Club Seiryu (AAU events, Karate Ontario events, US Open, Montreal Open)
  • Elite B – AAU Karate stream (Syracuse, Chicago, and Nationals)
  • Intermural League – Among outside clubs within Canada (minimum of 3 tournaments)
  • House League – Among the membership within NOX Dojo (4 tournaments)

If your are interested in competing for Team Meibukan, even if you are from another club, you are encouraged to join in on our meeting scheduled for Friday, September 16th, 2016 at 4:00 pm.