“I started karate at nine years old to humour my parents. They wanted me to learn some basic self-defence, so I began classes at the club in my hometown of Pemberton. To my surprise, I loved it. After my first couple competitions, I had a handful of bronze medals and was pretty proud of myself… until I realized that wasn’t so great with only three people in the division.
I discovered West River Karate by watching Sensei Kenny’s athletes dominate at every tournament I went to. Besides winning their divisions, the support they had for each other amazed me. Whenever someone was up, there was a coach in the corner and the rest of the club on the sidelines cheering them on. I realized this was something I wanted to be a part of.
Unfortunately I was living three hours away, and as a result was only able to train with West River once a week. Despite this, in two years I went from the kid getting participation ribbons at small tournaments, to getting gold in team fighting and bronze in individual fighting at my first national championships (and yes, that time there were more than three people). That was seven years ago. Since then, Sensei Kenny and the other students at the club have gone from strangers, to friends, to family.
Training with West River has not only allowed me to achieve my goals in Karate, but has helped shape who I am today. Sensei Kenny has taught me the value of respect, honesty and hard work, and has helped me gain confidence, coordination and self-discipline among many other skills.
In the last two years, I have taken a step back from competing to focus on school and haven’t made it to the dojo nearly as often as I would like. When I can make it, I am always welcomed with open arms. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had to train with such an amazing group of people, and hope to continue to do so in the future.”
– Morgan Maher
” Where do I begin..? West River was my second dojo, but it wasn’t until after I started training with these truly amazing people, sometime in 2008, that I realized, you don’t need to share blood to be family.
“When I first started coming to class, to be honest, I was quite intimidated. Not because these people were in any way scary, but because of the insane level of skill, discipline, and passion they put
into their sport. Coming from a small, traditional dojo, I had never experienced this level of intensity, and had never dreamed of achieving it.
Competing in karate soon became a big part of my life. Sensei, and my Sempais, Tan and Thien, have always been my biggest inspiration and source of motivation. These are the people who taught me to love the sport, and of course I did this for myself, and for my family, but the main reason I stuck with it and pushed myself to my limits, is because making this dojo, and especially Sensei, proud, is the best feeling in the world. This is what made every sore muscle, every blister and bruise, every three hour commute, there and back, entirely worth it.
Sensei was always brutally honest with us, something that is hard to come by, and also something I appreciate to this day. This honesty, although sometimes it hurt, is what broke us down, and built us back up stronger. This is what made us all better athletes, and better people. Because of this, I know that I can trust him with anything, and I will always take his advice to heart.
The chair in my corner has never been empty, whether at a competition, training, or in everyday life, they are always there, ring-side, coaching me to my very best.
I cannot, and will never be able to put into words the amount of respect, gratitude, and love I have for them. West River is longer just my dojo, but my second home and family. They have helped shape my life and always pointed me in the right direction. The lessons we learnt in the dojo will stay with us for the rest of our lives, from hard-work, and motivation, to honestly, and respect. These people are so incredibly generous, and I feel so lucky to be part of their family.
Thank you West River Karate! Xox”
– Erin Maher
“West River Karate became an important part of our family life nearly 7 years ago when our son Tyler joined the white belt beginners class at age 7. Two years later our younger son Dylan also joined dojo life. At times it has been demanding of our time, but above all it has been fun watching our sons and other kids grow up in the dojo. Through the meticulous training of Sensei Kenny, Tyler has grown into a tremendous athlete, winning several provincial titles and this year, becoming Canadian National Champion. And Dylan is not far behind, as a provincial champion on one occasion. However it is not the many medals that have kept our family engaged in the dojo, but rather the whole dojo experience West River brings into our children’s lives: discipline, pride, leadership, competitive spirit and camaraderie.
Sensei Kenny has a unique ability to derive the most creative karate drills, and push each student to train to his or her potential. Sensei also understands how to bring balance to the sport, mixing hard training with fun games and downtime. Not every kid will be a provincial champion, but every kid benefits from the experience. It is well known that Sensei pushes every student hard, but in returns he himself gives his 100% in every training session. But his support for his athletes goes much beyond the training sessions. Sensei Kenny is always there, on his own time, supporting every kid whether competing in odd corners of the Lower Mainland or across the border. That is commitment!
Sensei Kenny clearly sets the tone for the dojo. However, it is his junior coaches or “sempais” who help deliver the experience. Sempais Tan and Thien are exemplary role models to the younger athletes. Sempais Tan and Thien unfailingly support West River kids through every single training session and tournaments be it near or far. They are there to cheer them on through their victories or encourage them when they are down with a loss. Both Tan and Thien are not just very decorated international athletes themselves but mature young men that care tremendously for the dojo and each of its athletes. They are what Sensei Kenny aspires of every kid to become.
As we have been told by Sensei, our kids too can still aspire to more than they are today. So our lives through the dojo continue as we look forward to the day that our boys complete their journey to that almost unattainable black belt, because be forewarned… Sensei Kenny is quite stingy with his belts. So we likely have a long road ahead, but for the moment we are truly enjoying the experience of this amazing dojo..”
– Sergio and Francine Berretta
“I started Karate at 6 years old and it wasn’t with Sensei Kenny. I then changed clubs a number of times before finding my way to West River. In this testimonial, I could talk about how I decided to stay for the excellent training, describe how Sensei coached me onto the BC team, and list the number of medals I won while coming into my own as an international competitor, but the club’s stats don’t need my personal reinforcement. Tan, Thien, Trevor – my friends all have as many or more victories to list. Pretty soon a whole new generation of students will as well, but medals pile up in a box and trophies gather dust. Don’t get me wrong, world championships look great on a university application, but to me, my days with West River weren’t about earning shiny pieces of gold metal to wear around my neck. It was about the times I lost, the lessons I learned, and the days I wanted to give up, but didn’t because of the people I was with.
I can still close my eyes and feel the spring of mats beneath my feet, each one jig sawed into the crooked teeth of its neighbour. Sometimes they were rough and stained, others they were new and slippery. Slippery meant hair spraying the soles of my feet after taping up jammed toes. Every time, as I waited for a division to begin, I could smell the mopped up sweat and feel the coming hush. It didn’t matter how many hours of practice I’d put in during the months before, I was always nervous when I stepped into the ring, but I had Sensei in my corner – my teammates as a wall of black jackets just behind – and sore muscles ceased to matter. We were a team.
We also had a lot to prove. Hell class followed a tournament if we failed to bring back twice our number in medals – circuit training until our limbs gave out. Yet I remember those days better than most victories because we suffered together, leaned on each other, and collapsed at the end in one mass of numb arms, clumsy feet, and winded lungs. No matter how many push-ups, sit-ups, and wind sprints I did, I’m sure Sensei did more, running right beside us and encouraging us to push harder when we thought of quitting. We were an army, one that has only grown since my time in the ranks, and I learned value of hard work through what we accomplished as a club.
Then there were beach practices, summer days spent up at White Pine, when we practiced new katas just for fun. Our uniforms’ got soaked and heavy as we waded into the lake, early morning mist still sitting upon its surface. Shivering and clumsy we would fight for balance against the churning water until the sun came out and the beach grew busy. Then we went swimming. For those who may someday get the chance to go…never tip Sensei off his floatie and always bring a gi you don’t mind dragging through the sand (just saying). Also, a plastic bag doesn’t hurt for packing up the sopping mess.
West River was, and is, my second family. I’m now 21 and about to graduate from UBC, proud of what I accomplished in karate, but also the person I became as a result of my time with the club. Even though I’m working to build a career and not at Sunset as much as I would like to anymore, whenever I visit, it still feels like coming home.”
~Sempai Token (Lauren Maguire) =)
Sensei Kenny Lim is my first and only karate instructor. I started with him when he first started this dojo. I am the first rookie from West River, and I couldn’t have asked for a better Sensei. Sensei Kenny taught a lot of valuable life lessons that would come to be a very important foundation to my life and values. He showed me what discipline is, and what confidence is. But most importantly what is important. That winning a trophy isn’t a one time thing, and it’s not winning the trophy that makes it worth while. It’s the fact that you have one of the greatest support system in the world, who are made of very special people that remind you life is an on-going process and whether you win or not it’s about who’s going be there for you regardless of the result. This dojo is my safe haven for all the things I had to go through, when I couldn’t turn anywhere else this is where I would go. I would physically work it out with the people who have the drive to do something, to be better and for me forget everything else for a moment. That moment of zen from the crazy life we wrap ourselves in. This dojo teaches more than exercise, and is more than a pastime. This dojo is a special place where my Sensei and my Sempai’s made a difference in my life just by simply showing me a punch from a knife hand. It’s fun, it’s tough, it’s everything you need to balance the rest of the world. Plus I never had to work out for my abs.
– Iris Wong
“Our daughter has been learning Karate at West River Karate since she was 4. We have nothing but good things to say! Sensei Kenny and Sempais Thien, Tan and Trevor are all distinguished Karate experts. Sensei’s teaching philosophy includes imbibing good values and discipline in addition to Karate techniques. As he teaches Karate, Sensei makes sure to include a good dose of humour and examples relating to everyday life. That puts the students at ease and enhances their grasp of the subject. All parents know each other and the Dojo has an extended family vibe. West River produces champions consistently and we are proud to be part of it!”
– Best regards,
Priti & Gaurav Sharda.
“When our daughter was 3 years old she came to us and said, “I want to take Karate”.
Amanda never had any exposure to it before, so we asked her why she was interested. She replied that she thought it was like “crafts … you get to use scissors and glue”.
We told her we would sign her up…. and after her first class she wasn’t disappointed…. she loved it.
Her desire to learn karate is driven by her relationship with the dojo, and in particular Sensei Kenny and Sempai Tan. They make the classes fun, and they know how to encourage and support the kids as they learn. It is clear that they are exceptional in their craft, but even more evident, is that they are good people…. and this is what makes West River Karate so great. Because of the personalities of all of the instructors, the atmosphere in the dojo is one of camaraderie, hard work, focus, and fun.
We feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this dojo, and Amanda couldn’t be happier… even though there hasn’t been any ‘glue or scissors’ yet.”
– Geoff and Helen Lee
“Our children have been under the guidance of the West River Hayashi Ryu dojo headed by the excellent Sensei Kenny Lim for about 3 years now, there is a consistent high quality of instruction.
The kids are expected to work hard but the classes are made to be fun so they have a great time while learning the basics of karate do. The sempais, Thien, Tan and Trevor, genuinely enjoy teaching. There is a welcoming environment and the students are friends with each other.We have observed not only our kids but the others as well become more focused, coordinated, attain a positive attitude and grow in confidence. We are proud to be part of the West River family.”
– Niño and Ethel Villamente