Competition keeps him coming back, and he keeps coming back with medals.
It’s a part of life for Blanc Sablon Kenpo Karate Club athlete Camille Lavallee, and the 58-year-old martial artist likes it that way.
Recently, Mr. Lavallee returned to his hometown of St. Barbe after competing in the Canadian Martial Arts Championships, which was held in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, May 18-20, where he finished second in the 42-and-over division, and also in the 48-and-over division.
Along with his two medals, the black belt also qualified for the World Martial Arts Championships, Oct. 2-7, scheduled to also take place in Saint-Eustache, which is an off-island suburb of Montreal.
At nationals, Mr. Lavallee had to compete, and defeat, guys 16 years his younger on his way to finishing on the podium, and guys who train in different forms of martial arts like shotokan karate and taekwondo.
Considering some of his opposition train extensively, while he works on the ferry seven days a week, Mr. Lavallee was happy with his results.
“I have a nice bit of experience overall, but not compared to some of the guys who compete at nationals,” said Mr. Lavallee. “Some of these guys in Montreal and Toronto, and some of the bigger areas, can compete every second weekend if they wanted to. Down this area, I might get to four or five events a year. It’s always nice to win gold, but I was older than most of the guys that were there, so I was satisfied.
“I train over in Blanc Sablon. My nephew is a black belt, I have two brothers who are brown belts, so that makes for some good sparring,” said Mr. Lavallee. “Conditioning is a big thing now at my age. I have to keep my conditioning up.”
The upcoming international event will be Mr. Lavallee’s third world event. He also qualified to compete in last year’s World Karate Association’s World Championships in Spain, but turned down the opportunity due to the costs associated with it.
I just love martial arts. I’ve been at it for a number of years, and I just love being around it. - Camille Lavallee
Although he’s competed overseas on a number of different occasions, and although he’s a multi-medal winner on the national scene, the thrill of competition, and the nervous energy he feels seconds before a match, keeps his interest in martial arts burning.
“I just love martial arts. I’ve been at it for a number of years, and I just love being around it. There were anywhere between 450 and 500 competitors of all ages at nationals…and just being there, being in the middle of all the excitement, that’s what keeps bringing me back,” he said. “You’re always a bit nervous (before a fight), and I guess it’s not a good thing if you’re not nervous. You don’t know the style of the person you’re fighting, you don’t know if they’re a good kicker or a good puncher, so you wait and feel a guy out before you make your move. The rounds are just two minutes, and that don’t last really long.”
Mr. Lavallee taped all of his fights at nationals, so he plans on studying his fights, determining what he did wrong and fixing those mistakes, and working on his strengths as a fighter.
The goal at worlds, as always, is to return to Newfoundland and Labrador with gold medals hanging around his neck.
So, when work is done for the day, Mr. Lavallee won’t go home, put his feet up, and watch the ball game.
He’ll be in the dojo.
“We work seven days a week on the ferry, with six weeks on and three weeks off. It’s hard to train seven days a week, but I train at least three or four nights a week,” he said. “I usually train for an hour or so, but after working all day, an hour of training is about all I can do.”