Karate in Ontario: “The Uphill Battle” – The Cost of Raising a Champion

The Uphill Battle won ALTFF Best Documentary in Canada, Spring 2017, and Documentary Without Borders in the US, Fall 2017. Also a finalist at the NOLLYWOOD Festival in Canada, The Uphill Battle is currently shortlisted by other Canadian film festivals (2018).

About the uphill battle

Canadian karate exists because of the dedication and enthusiasm of senseis, coaches, judges, athletes, and parents. Prior to 2017, talented athletes faced difficulties caused by lack of funds, strict rules, and lack of understanding from superiors * in the world of Karate, Ontario.

We desperately needed to understand why it was so difficult to be successful at karate in Ontario, and these questions are answered in The Uphill Battle. This award-winning documentary features 14 experts, including respected instructors, elite athletes, referees, and judges, as they share their experiences and secrets to success. More importantly, all 14 experts have experienced “The Uphill Battle”.

First and only Karate study in Canada

This film reveals the only known research in the field of karate in Canada. No one knows how many seminars, camps, and tournaments karate clubs offer today, and there is no official data on the number of clubs, coaches, and students in Canada and whether these students are children or adults.

According to the website dojos.ca, in 2016 there were 932 martial arts schools in 105 Ontario cities. However, many clubs are not registered, so it is not known how many new clubs opened and when or where they operate. Therefore, we have no idea how many talented athletes could bring future gold medals to Canada.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Who Will Represent Canada?

In August 2016, Karate became part of the Olympic Games program, so 60 world-class athletes will participate in Tokyo 2020. To represent Canada internationally, our athletes must qualify at the Provincial, National, Pan American and International. Many talented athletes live in Ontario, but unfortunately, most cannot afford to represent Canada in international competitions.

Who pays for it?

Parents of younger students must pay for everything; with older athletes funding themselves. Serious athletes attend their club most days, and additional training is required for physical conditioning. Injuries must be treated immediately, causing problems when athletes have to wait months for treatment under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Points are everything!

Despite the sacrifices made by parents, athletes, and coaches, there is no guarantee that talented athletes will make the Canadian national team. If an athlete was unsuccessful at Nationals, it is highly unlikely
will be accepted into the team.

Unless there is a vacancy, someone retires or an athlete is injured, an athlete would not be placed on an international team because there is always someone who already has points. Points mean success, and decision makers make the athletes with the most points. Athletes must participate in numerous events to achieve the most points and almost all points are accumulated in international competitions, so what happens when an athlete cannot attend an event because he has to work or is injured? Unfortunately, points become a reflection of a karate student’s financial ability, not his talent and dedication.

Karate has become a financial drain sport

To compete in tournaments, many athletes must do extra work and / or borrow money. In Karate, the most expensive part of growing elite athletes relates to travel expenses, because there are no international tournaments in Ontario for young athletes to gain rank and the required experience.

Parents report that traveling internationally to Europe, South America, or Asia costs between $ 4,000 and $ 5,000 per trip, including flights, room and board. And parents are obliged to accompany their children, doubling their expenses. If parents cannot travel, it is the coaches who fulfill this role, while still paying for themselves. Coaches are also required to provide additional training and “babysitting” on a voluntary basis.

This is not an optimistic outlook!

As it is today:

  • There are not enough tournaments in Ontario;
  • Athletes from low-income families have little chance of participating in the national team; and
  • Before 2017, being involved in provincial and national teams was extremely difficult: no money means no events, without events there are no points, and without points there is no success.

The educational aspect of the uphill battle

The Uphill Battle is an educational film that details the sport of karate, including the creation of champions and the benefits and uniqueness of karate.

Topics include the historical background of Canadian karate, key budget components for growing champions, appropriate age to start training, choice of parent coaches and clubs, tournaments, travel expenses, roles from parents and coaches into growing champions, judges and rules, and different types of financial support for athletes.

The documentary is extremely informative and ideal for anyone interested in various aspects of Karate, including socializing, self-development, sporting achievements, and overcoming problems such as
ASD and ADHD.

Target audiences

The Uphill Battle takes an in-depth look at Karate and how it offers the children of Ontario, Canada, a healthy and productive lifestyle. The documentary’s target audience includes parents, sports scientists, universities, and
College-level students, gym teachers, athletes, healthy lifestyle experts and instructors, coaches, sports-loving teens, and Karate officials at all levels.

This documentary is for parents interested in learning about Karate because Karate is a way for children to develop winning life skills; improve confidence; to learn to think for themselves and
achieve the best results in all aspects of their lives.

If you are a sports expert, sports psychologist, gym teacher, sociologist or school teacher, this documentary is an invaluable teaching aid. It shows how to instruct different age groups and covers historical facts, traditions, styles, and much more.

Politicians: Please take note!

For any politician interested in promoting Canadian Olympic champions, this documentary is a must! You will discover how karate students develop and become champions; the lack of professionally organized tournaments for students; how talented athletes give up because they can’t afford expenses related to international competitions, travel, and provincial and national team fees.

We urge the government to show an interest in karate and learn why our talented athletes need your support.

Where to buy or watch the battle uphill

To view it online, you will find The Uphill Battle on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca or Amazon.uk. (Free for Amazon Prime customers)

You can order DVD or BRD formats on the Invision Pro website here.

Canadian libraries that accept new development material can order from vendors such as Library Center and Library Bound. It can also be purchased at the Canadian Film Center. For those in the Vancouver (BC, Canada) area, check out this link.

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

Maria Morgunova


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