An Interview with Serena Dong
On July 3, 2020, Vancouver BC, Canada
Serena at the age of 9 taking a belt test
With her parents at Vancouver Cup 2018
With Shihan Tats at 2019 Kumite Tournament
Q1. When and how did you join Vancouver Seiyu Karate?
I switched from doing Taekwondo to join Vancouver Seiyu Karate in the year of 2010.
Q2. What do you remember from training in the dojo when you were a child?
I remember always looking forward to the relay races at the end of every class because they were really fun and brought out the competitiveness in all the students. 😊
Q3. Now you’ve grown up to be 18 years old. What aspects of Karate do you enjoy?
Although there are no relay races anymore, there are many aspects of Karate that I enjoy today. That includes the amazing people I train with, learning new in-depth techniques, and competing in an international tournament.
Q4. You competed in the international tournament last December. Tell us about why you decided to take part in such a high caliber competition.
I have been quite shy ever since I began training at the Killarney dojo. However, as years passed, I slowly slipped out of my bubble and have to realize that overcoming my fears was something I was passionate about achieving. That is the reason why I decided to compete in Japan in December. I had the jitters for sure, but the training I had gone through helped me take control of the adrenaline and learn to channel it into useful energy.
"The training I had gone through helped me take control of the adrenaline and learn to channel it into useful energy. "
Q5. How did you prepare for the tournament?
The tournament was in December 2019, and I began training in January of that year. I practiced after every regular Tuesday class, but I also dropped in on Thursdays to do private training with Shihan and a couple of other classmates who were going to compete. I was going to compete in Kata (choreographed pattern of movements), so I had to train until my moves were practically perfect. With helpful feedback from my Sensei and my peers, I not only felt more physically empowered, but the motivation I once lacked was boosted to top-notch.
Furthermore, I trained on my own time at home. I would break my kata down to several parts, and proactive each of them individually, despite the limited amount of space I had in my basement… My parents played a huge part in terms of preparing me for Japan. Whenever I had to participate in smaller, local tournaments, my mother would be there to document the experience so that I could look back at it in the future. She even participated in some herself! 😊 My father actually traveled with the team and I to Japan and supported us all along the whole trip. I am super grateful that both my wonderful parents have put in so much dedication to help make my dream achievable.
Preparing for 2019 International Tournament
Dec 2019 in Osaka, Japan with Sempai Risa, Natalie, Jesse, and Simone
The girls train, compete, and grow together through Karate.
Getting ready to perform with Jesse, and
Serena's father supporting from the ringside
Teaching Children at Killarney Dojo
Performing in the Vancouver Cup 2019
Q6. You competed in the Women’s Open division. The category saw many black belts participate from all over the world. How did you feel and perform throughout the event?
At first, I was overwhelmed by the fact that most people I was going against were top level black belts. As I watched them all warm up, the fear began to diminish, and was then replaced by awe. Watching top level black belt competitors really inspired me. It motivated me to want to not only continue my training but to take it up a notch and focus more on areas where I can perhaps see room for improvement in the future.
Q7. We know you teach children’s classes on a regular basis. What benefits do you receive from the teaching?
I had always enjoyed interacting with children, so having to teach karate to them was an opportunity I am truly grateful for. What I have learned from instructing these children’s classes is that it requires a lot of patience and confidence. This goes for the children as well. The karate we teach them will get them to not only be active, but to be confident, peaceful, and focused.
Q8. It has been almost ten years since you first joined us. Why do you think you can keep training for so many years?
Initially, I had joined to only learn how to protect myself from dangerous situations in the outside world, but throughout my years of training, I have grown to love all the different aspects. Whether it was challenging or not, I will continue practicing and pushing myself until there is no more tomorrow.
"Whether it was challenging or not, I will continue practicing and pushing myself until there is no more tomorrow."
Q9. What are your short- and long-term goals in Karate?
My short-term goal in karate is to master all the necessary katas for my belt rank. My long-term goal is to place first in the next international tournament! My lifetime goal is to get over my stage fright when performing kata in front of crowds. 😊
Q10. Please give a message to Kohais.
Osu!! I know that during these tough times, we are all struggling to spend time training as a whole. Karate is important, but so is our health. Despite us all not seeing each other, please take care of yourselves and your families! As long as you are proud of yourself, your resilience, and your ability to adapt to these extreme circumstances, this pandemic will be no match for your strong spirits! We are all in this together. See you all soon (hopefully!!). Osu!