The Master’s henchmen
Two of Jeff Viani’s finest students are ready to turn heads at the Master’s Cup, a World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Taekwondo event scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29, at Capilano University in North Vancouver.
Taylor Viani, Jeff’s daughter, and Shawn Sabyan — both of whom fight out of Master Viani’s Tiger Martial Arts (MVTMA) school — are second-degree black belts with a lot to prove at this weekend’s event.
Taylor, 15, is competing for the first time in the junior women’s black-belt division.
A top-four finish in the sparring competition, a full-contact event, will earn her a spot on Team B.C., which will compete at the National Championships in Vancouver in January.
“Oh, I can’t even imagine what that would be like,” said Taylor, a Sa-Hali secondary student.
“But, I’m just focused on getting in the top four right now.”
Sabyan, who’s been practising martial arts for 15 years, has competed at high-level competitions before, many of them overseas, but has never tried his hand in the men’s black-belt division at a WTF-sanctioned event.
“The competition is going to be quite difficult,” said Sabyan, who works for CIBC in the day and MVTMA at night.
“There’s a lot of people with a lot of experience. The sparring is full contact in the adult division, so there’s a chance for injury for myself or for someone else.
“But, Master Viani wouldn’t send me down there if he didn’t think that I was capable of making quite an impact.
“I trust him and I trust my own skills as well.”
The 22-year-old knows he will be under scrutiny from coaches and scouts from Team B.C. and Team Canada at the Master’s Cup.
A solid showing on Saturday might put him on the map for a spot on Team Canada in the future.
While making the team that travels to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is a long shot, Sabyan’s chances of cracking the squad in 2016, when the Games are held in Brazil, are better.
“This can get me noticed and get the ball rolling within B.C and with the provincial team and I’ll go from there,” Sabyan said.
Taylor dreams of competing at the Olympics, too, and this weekend’s event will allow her to gauge her standing among the province’s elite.
Viani has been making life tough on both of his pupils as of late, preparing them for what promises to be a true test of their skills.
“We’ve a had a love-hate relationship for the last six weeks because I’m pushing her probably beyond her potential,” he said of his daugher.
“I don’t want her to get hurt and I don’t want her to get knocked out.
“She really loves dance and if she comes back black and blue, that won’t be too popular.”
Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Viani is proud of his daughter and Sabyan, both of whom will represent the River City on Saturday the only way they know how — by giving 100 per cent.
“We probably haven’t had a lot of black belts of this calibre represent Kamloops,” he said.
“I think that’s a pretty big deal.”