My interest in martial arts began when I saw the movie Return of the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee. I was captivated by his fighting style and his skill and tenacity. Nearly 30 years have passed since Bruce Lee made his final bow, but the interest in martial arts he instilled in me has never left my heart.

I am 45 years old and I have been taking karate for three years with the Shotokan karate club in Chibougamau. I first began taking lessons from one of the teachers here in Mistissini who taught the Shito-Ryu style, which I really enjoyed. When I began training, I got a lot of negative remarks from some people concerning karate and my age. I was constantly told that I was too old to practice martial arts.

I made up my mind that I would pursue this martial arts journey for me and for my health, regardless of criticism.

I have lost a lot of weight since and I feel much better about myself, physically and mentally. And what’s more encouraging is that three members of my family and about 10 other members from Mistissini have also joined to take part in this journey.

When some of my friends and I decided to check out this other Dojo in Chibougamau, we were very impressed by the class atmosphere of respect, the expertise and the professionalism of Sensei Claude Bédard and his team of Black Belts. We saw some people who were older, still strong and coming out of the Dojo with a smile even after a hard and good workout.

Honestly, I believe karate is the best activity a person can do at any age. It is truly the best thing people can do for themselves to improve their physical and mental well-being. Karate should be a way of life that helps make one stronger, humble and more confident because I believe karate develops you more.

Physically, one gets a complete body work out because you use all your muscles through a full range of motions. Also, one develops flexibility that, as one gets older, helps prevent injury, increases energy, improves balance and coordination and most of all, it provides cardiovascular benefits.

I hope to continue on this journey for as long as I can, and I wish to encourage those that are already on this road to continue. Be confident, believe in yourself and your ability to succeed, because we are bound only by the limitations we place upon ourselves. And I greatly encourage others to participate in this journey. Also, I wish to thank my wife, family and friends for their continuous support. And a big thanks to the instructors who continually give their selves unselfishly.