Vancouver students heading to Pan-Am Karate championships

By Deanna Cheng
Special to The Post


A pair of Vancouver siblings will represent Canada at the Junior Pan American Karate Championships, hosted in Argentina from August 23 to 27 this year.

Wearing the national flag on their karate uniforms, Rhemwell, 17, and Amelie Del Rosario, 14, have trained both physically and mentally to bring home the gold. Both of them have a strong will and determination but the one thing they both focused on improving this year was a strong mental state.

For Rhemwell, it was about visualization. One way he practises this is by meditating at home.

“At home, I just sit down and close my eyes. I envision myself at the tournament venue, warming up, getting a feel for the whole tournament itself and pretending I’m watching the matches happen. When it comes to my turn to compete, I imagine fighting one of the top level country athletes like Brazil or even Argentina, and go through certain scenarios of what may or may not happen in that match.”

One of the head coaches from Karate Canada told the team that you can be one of the best athlete physically, but if you’re not mentally there, you won’t make it through the first round. Rhemwell took these words to heart, remembering the coach saying it’s good to practice mental training and visualization of being at the tournament.

Other methods of preparing includes asking and seeking help from senior students and doing doing double classes.

“On top of that, I would go to Youtube to watch these kumite (sparring) fighters and kata (forms) competitors and see if maybe I could pick up a couple things and add that to my game.”

For Amelie’s mental game, she works on not psyching herself out. “Something our team coaches and (my karate mentor) Kenneth has taught me is to take every match one at a time. One kata at a time. Don’t think of the round coming after this round. Don’t think ahead of yourself.”

She admitted to having a mental breakdown at last year’s competition because she didn’t know what to expect so she let it get to her and it let her down. “The coaches have helped me think I’m there to win, one match at a time. That no one can stop me.”

When she sees her opponent, the 14-year-old turns away from them.

“I turn away and practice on my own because I matter to myself and I don’t need other people to get into my head. Because, for me, when opponents get into my head, it gets to me a lot. Then it changes the way I am when I compete and the way I think prior to the competition.”

This international championship means a lot to the two siblings.

Rhemwell said, “For the longest time, it’s always been a dream to compete internationally and start competing under Team Canada.”

While it’s not his first international competition, it’s his first time competing at the Junior Pan-Ams and it’s his first tournament sanctioned by the World Karate Federation.

Amelie shares the same excitement despite it being her second time at this competition. This tournament means a lot to her because, if she does well, it will lead her to World Karate Championships.

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