Matthew Bodnaryk has been involved in taekwondo for years.
“Twenty-six involved in competing, coaching, training,” he said, reflecting on his involvement.
Through the years Bodnaryk admits he’s been pretty good at the sport. He is now a 5th Dan black belt, noting the top level is 9th Dan.
So is that top level a goal.
“I think so,” he replied after a moment. “I would like to achieve that one day, but that is many, many years away.”
closer achievement in terms of belts would be 6th Dan. Currently there is only one 6th Dan black belt under their international governing body in Yorkton, Bodnaryk’s step father Master Wayne Mitchell.
But, any thoughts of achieving a higher level belt is on the backburner right now.
Instead, Bodnaryk’s focus is on the Canadian Taekwondo Championships to be held in Laval, Que. this weekend.
At least Bodnaryk is trying to focus on the championships where he will compete in the under-40 category of forms, where competitors are judged on how well they perform a set of prescribed taekwondo moves. He admits staying focused on the competition is not easy. He is an instructor at both the Yorkton and Canora locations of Kee’s Taekwondo, and when the instruction time is done, he has two small children at home, and a third is on the way.
“Time management is most important,” he said with a smile, adding it’s also key to self-motivate. “It’s training when you don’t feel you want to train.”
While Bodnaryk won’t be throwing punches and kicks at an opponent, he will be judged against another competitor doing the same moves, the best score from the judges moving on.
“You want to make the judges happy, to make them score high for you,” he said.
That takes practice, preferably against others of similar level. That means Bodnaryk faces the same issue Saskatchewan competitors always face, the need to travel.
In terms of taekwondo Saskatchewan is a very small place. In fact, at nationals only three competitors are headed to Laval as far as Bodnaryk knows, himself, his mother Susanne Mitchell in the under-60 women’s division and Taya Yanke as a Junior competitor.
So Bodnaryk has fuelled up the car and trained in Saskatoon with Master Ha and in Alberta with Master Rim.
Then there was a flight to Quebec for the Canadian Open in October, an international event with about 1,000 competitors.
“I won there ... I was on point that day,” he said, adding that win gives him confidence headed to Laval. “I think I’m ready for this competition coming up.”
Last year Bodnaryk was second at Nationals, the gold going to a competitor from Ontario.
“He’s the one guy I need to beat,” he said, again with a smile. He said he hopes that being a year-older has allowed him to fine tune his forms just enough to take top spot.
“I’m more prepared. I’ve had more training, more experience,” “I have a good shot this year. At least I’ll make him (last year’s winner) work for it.”
The incentive to win lies not just in a Canadian championship, but a trip to Worlds in Denmark later this year as part of the Canadian team.