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Local martial arts club helps Canada come in first at tournament

Aurora's K.O. Club saw all five of its athletes medal at the Fourth Pan American Wushu/KungFu Championship, including Newmarket's Sam Babzani and Tyler De Point
Aurora's K.O. Club saw all five of its athletes medal at Fourth Pan American Wushu/KungFu Championship to help Canada win first place.

When wife and husband Tara J. Deris and Ardeshir Arjomandkhah opened K.O. Club, their martial arts fitness gym in 2021, they never imagined making this big of an impact on the Newmarket and Aurora communities.

But last month, at the Fourth Pan American Wushu/KungFu Championship hosted in Toronto and Markham, K.O. Club had five athletes compete.

“This year’s Wushu competition was a huge opportunity for Ontario athletes, including our local athletes,” said Deris. “As the team trainers observing our students in action, my partner Ardeshir and I were very optimistic we would bring a gold medal home despite only opening our business just two years ago.”

The event saw 740 athletes coming from both North and South America, and all five of K.O. Club’s athletes competing medalled, including Newmarket’s own Sam Babzani and Tyler De Point, both bringing home bronze. 

“They all got medals and it was such a blessing,” said Deris. “Even they couldn’t believe it, one of the parents even told me they never thought this would happen. The parents were so proud of them winning medals and said they’re so much more confident now.”

The first major post-pandemic tournament, it was the most successful for Team Canada yet. For the first time, Canada earned First Place Overall surpassing the U.S., which came second, and Bermuda, in third place.  

“We teamed up with Golden Glory, one of the top martial arts fitness gyms in Vancouver and together, we brought home 15 medals helping to earn Team Canada first place,” said Arjomandkhah.

Having the backing of both the Aurora and Newmarket community as the couple built their business after moving to Canada in 2018, has been special, said Deris.

“The community in Aurora and Newmarket has been so supportive, we just love it here,” said Deris. “It’s a great vibe here and it helped us make it.”

Deris and Arjomandkhah have a combined 30 years of experience in martial arts, with Arjomandkhah being a five-time world champion kickboxer and Deris being a Canadian provincial boxing champion.

While they do focus on coaching competitive athletes, K.O. Club’s core tenant is about helping clients reach their goals and building a community within the club.

“It’s just about being healthy and being active,” said Deris. “We want people to reach the goals they want in fitness. It helps release stress and helps with mental wellness.”

Helping Canada take home medals is nice, but Deris said to her and her husband it’s more about making a difference in people’s lives.

“We helped a client lose about 40 kilograms,” she said. “He always said he never thought he’d be here right now and every session he’s so grateful. We want to help our members reach whatever their goal is and make friends. It’s a fun and good time. It’s all about family, our community here is our family.”