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Maori martial arts coming to Newmarket for international symposium

Budo Without Borders bringing in renowned instructors to teach techniques, take part in cultural exchange
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Steve Armes of Shoshinkan Martial Arts in Aurora holds a flag for Budo Without Borders.

Aurora martial arts instructor Steve Armes is expecting plenty of international flair for his annual seminar.

The founder of Aurora’s Shoshinkan Martial Arts in Aurora has invited famed New Zealand sensei Tuari Dawson to headline the seminar to be held in Newmarket. Dawson, a former world champion in full-contact karate, is attracting interested patrons from across the world to come and see him teach in North America for the first time.

“We really wanted to make this not just a karate and a martial arts training, but make it a way to bring people together,” Armes said. “It’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about using a shared, common experience as a way of building bridges.” 

The Budo Without Borders seminar is returning Oct. 1. The annual event from Armes's martial art school brings experts from across the world for a symposium highlighting different techniques. This year’s event will be held in Newmarket at Brad Jones Karate at 244 Main St. South from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Armes said this should be one of the largest symposiums he has done. Dawson is a New Zealand-based sensei and Maori elder, who works from an Indigenous base of knowledge.

There is a planned cultural exchange for the event, which falls one day after Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada. Armes said local Indigenous groups have been invited to take part, while Dawson will also be taking part in events throughout York Region.

“There’s an entire Indigenous martial tradition in New Zealand,” he said. “We, in Canada, have based our truth and reconciliation process on what’s been going on in New Zealand for years. We decided we really wanted to make this not just a karate and martial arts training, but make it a way to bring people together.”

The seminar involves a morning session highlighting “principle-based karate techniques.” Dawson will teach in the afternoon about Maori weapons and martial traditions. Armes said he expects dignitaries will attend.

He added that he hopes his students can experience a new way to look at martial training.

“It might just be a different perspective from which to look at what we already do,” he said. “Just the fellowship and spirit of camaraderie we often share as martial artists.” 

The event will also feature sensei James Pankiewicz, who founded the DOJO Bar in Naha, Okinawa in Japan. Armes said they plan to have a “pop-up” version of the martial arts bar for attendees to feast together.

The event has an entry fee and is not fully publicly open with space limited, but Armes said there will be a stream through a Facebook event.

 But the event is attracting patrons from all over the U.S. and even some from Europe, he said.

“We’re hoping to stream via Zoom globally, but the world’s already starting to come to us,” he said.