An Interview with Simone Tecson
On July 6, 2020, Vancouver BC, Canada
Simone at the age of 10 taking her first belt test
Her double-under began with zero and increased to over 100 reps.
Training with Shihan Tats
Q1. When and how did you join our club?
I first joined the club when I was nine years old! After watching a lot of martial arts anime as a kid I begged my parents to enroll me. I stayed until I reached my orange belt, then took a break and returned again when I was 12. After that, I stayed until I had an orange belt stripe, then took another break and finally returned and stayed in the winter of 2017 when I decided I wanted to stay in karate seriously.
Q2. What do you remember from training in the dojo when you were a child?
I remember feeling extremely competitive with another girl in my class. The two of us I felt were always competing to have the best cartwheels, kick the highest, stretch the lowest, etc. A clear memory I have is when Shihan Tats goes to each of the students during kicking drills and checks to see who had the strongest Mawashi Geri. I always waited for this to happen in the dojo so that I could see if I could maintain the strongest kick for weeks. Whenever I wasn’t named the strongest, I would pray that we would be checked again next week so I could be granted the title of ‘hardest kicker’ again.
Q3. Now you’ve grown up to be 17 years old. What aspects of Karate do you enjoy?
I really enjoy having karate as a stress reliever from other parts of my life. As a teenager, there is a lot that can go on in my life, like school, friends, drama, family, maybe even a job. When I enter the dojo, I immediately feel less stressed because I’m surrounded by my teammates and my only goal is to improve myself in karate. This really helps me get my mind cleared from the other tasks and responsibilities in my life.
"When I enter the dojo, I immediately feel less stressed because I’m surrounded by my teammates and my only goal is to improve myself in Karate. "
I also adore competitiveness in preparing and competing in tournaments. Personally, I enjoy Kumite a lot more than kata because I get extremely excited whenever I get to spar. I find tournament Kumite matches the most thrilling because in a tournament match both sides fight their hardest. It is the best way to know how far you have improved in technique, endurance, and spirit. Not only fighting tournament matches but also watching the matches is also very exciting to me. Whenever there’s an intense match, the environment changes and everyone can almost feel the energy of the competitors. Overall, I love Kumite in karate for many reasons, and I think I will continue to for a long time.
Q4. We know you competed in the 2018 International Tournament. How did you prepare for such a caliber competition?
Since I hadn’t ever fought in a tournament before when I asked Shihan Tats to compete in Japan, I tried my best to familiarize myself with tournament matches. I would train alone with Shihan for thirty minutes in summer after teen’s classes and also attend the adult's class. Later on, in the fall training increased to 1 hour of private training. I tested out my improvement in the fall 2018 Seiyu Kumite Tournament.
In every class and training I attended, I tried my best to discipline myself and also watch my Sempais and Shihan to try to learn more techniques and movement. I knew that because I had taken so many breaks, I would have to train even more than any of my competitors. Since time is fixed, and I can’t input an infinite amount more hours of training than my competitors within the few months before the tournament, I brainstormed ways to improve myself taking into account my personal possible limitations and advantages.
Aside from the training in the dojo with Shihan, at home, I would surround myself with Kumite videos of varying styles to see which type may fit my fighting style. Shihan knew that high kicks were my strong suit, so I did my very best to increase my kicking speeds by begging my father to hold makeshift pads for me. Doing a lot of random workouts that I could come up with, as well as every day of double-unders as suggested by Shihan, I did my best to prepare my body. My mindset for sparring was trained by Shihan in sparring so often with him. As the first international tournament, I think this period of training was the most memorable and new.
At the 2019 International Seminar, Kobe Japan with Serena, Sempai Risa, Jesse, and Natalie. Their team bonding is so incredible that they are like real sisters.
A prayer before Shinzen with Jesse
At Honbu in 2019 with Team Vancouver
On the top of the podium in the 2018 International Tournament
Tameshiwari in the 2019 Summer Camp
Sparring with Sempai Risa
The Downtown Dojo's children celebrating Simone and Natalie's success of their performence in 2019 International Tournament
Q5. You captured the Gold Medal in the Girl’s 16-18 division. How did you feel and perform throughout the event?
I had two matches in the tournament, one two-minutes and the other four-minutes. In the first match, I felt relaxed yet excited. I think I performed well. In the second match, I felt more fatigued. The match ended up being ruled as a draw and continued into an extension round. I think the extension round was the most exhausting two minutes of my life. I felt like I was going to collapse.
I remember kicking my opponent in the head and just wishing that she would go down so that we could stop fighting, but we kept on going every time. In the last 20 seconds, Shihan interrupted my exhausted haze, by yelling a cheer. At that moment I remembered how hard I trained for that very moment and found new resolve to win. I still find that match the hardest and hold great respect for my opponent to this day.
Q6. Then, you competed again in 2019 and took first place for two years in a row. What motivates you to keep competing at the international level?
I think that my motivation stems from my genuine joy in competing. Personally, I don’t feel like I need to be motivated or pressured to keep competing at an international level. Competing in tournaments to me is much like getting to go to an amusement park! The thrills of fighting and the pleasure in knowing your hard training paid off compel me to keep competing. I think that if people see competitions and hard training as an adventure it is, many people will have the same mindset as me.
"Competing in tournaments to me is much like getting to go to an amusement park!"
There are also times when I get exhausted from training so often, but usually, I feel a lot better after going to training. Whenever I miss, I always feel guilt towards myself in missing a chance to learn more and getting to spar Shihan. Getting to spar Shihan Tats and other Sempais, like Sempai Risa, is extremely fun and also motivates me to train more.
Additionally, my parents were always with me to support me. They helped to drive me to the majority of training, fed me a lot of food for energy, and nursed me whenever I was hurt (which was quite often). Without that support, I think that the amount of training I accomplished with the added pressure from school would not be possible.
Q7. We know you teach children’s classes on a regular basis. What benefits do you receive from the teaching?
Teaching the children’s class is extremely enjoyable as well. Honestly, one of the greatest benefits I get is that it makes me happy, but it also goes towards a training program where I could become a junior instructor and have my class fees waived in the future.
Teaching the children techniques is really fun because they master techniques really fast. Sometimes I show them a kick that I have just mastered, and occasionally they do it better than I do. I love it when this happens because now I have a role model for my techniques, and they also have more fun with the more they accomplish, especially if the kick looks cool.
Q8. What are your short- and long-term goals in Karate?
My short-term goal is to get first place in the 16-18 girls division brown-black belt division! My long-term goal is to have my own dojo someday.
"My long-term goal is
to have my own dojo someday. "
Q9. Please give a message to Kohais.
Hello! I hope you all enjoy karate for yourselves! Everyone is different, so everyone will have something they are naturally inclined to. There are so many parts to karate, even within Kumite and Kata there is so much variation between each martial artist and the way they master what they do. If you find something that makes you genuinely happy to try your hardest in, regardless if you gain trophies and medals or not, chase after it! Don’t miss out on a chance to push yourself and go on an adventure. Gambare!!!