Driving from her former house in Sooke to school in Esquimalt every morning, Gabrielle Montgomery would pass the same trailer with a poster for the movie, the Karate Kid.
The trailer was just sitting on the side of the road with a bright red and orange poster of Jaden Smith kicking his leg high into the air — a remake of the 1984 version, featuring Smith as Dre Parker and Jackie Chan as Mr. Han.
“I told my mom every morning that I wanted to do martial arts,” said the nine-year-old Ecole Victor-Brodeur student.
For the past three years, Montgomery has dedicated herself to learning the art of WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) Olympic-style taekwondo. The style is one that athletes compete in at the Olympics and unlike regular taekwondo, it focuses on moves, such as head and spinning kicks.
Practicing three times a week at Cascadia Martial Arts Victoria in James Bay, Montgomery has already earned her red belt and is two belts away from earning a black belt.
“I thought it was pretty cool. It’s more about defending yourself than attacking,” she said, adding her favourite part of the sport is poomsae, a pattern of moves where you learn how to block, punch and kick, and put it in a sequence.
“I like that my coaches help me and they have fun with me. They’re not just about teaching it, they’re more about having fun. This gym and Dany (her coach) makes me feel like this is my home, my family and my friends.”
Montgomery is one of a dozen students from Cascadia Martial Arts Victoria, which opened its doors on Jan. 18, who will be competing in provincials in Vancouver in March.
Though this will be Montgomery’s first appearance at provincials, she’s competed at a number of tournaments in Parksville and Vancouver. She hopes to bring home silver in her group.
Montgomery’s coach Dany Montecon said she is one of his most dedicated athletes.
“She’s very talented, she has very powerful kicks,” he said. “She pays a lot of attention, she listens a lot while she’s training and competing and that is a huge step. She’s more ready than she’s ever been before.”
April Larocque, co-owner of the studio, said Montgomery helps push other students with her positive energy.
Other athletes heading to provincials include Larocque, Darian Baker, Iseabel Jones, Scott Sawchuck, Jacob Isaac, Eve Roberts, and Ellie, Skye, Paul and Sian Cummings.
Athletes who qualify at provincials then move on to nationals in Calgary in May.
For more information visit cascadiavictoria.com.