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Pictou County's Cherry and Rick Whitaker travelling to B.C. this week for karate tournament

Rick and Cherry Whitaker outside their home in Limestone, Pictou County.
Rick and Cherry Whitaker outside their home in Pictou County. - Kevin Adshade

When Cherry Whitaker took her son Ben to his first karate class back in 1987, little did she know what the next three decades would bring. 
“I didn’t want to just drop him off there. I watched for the first couple of classes, and I thought. ‘I should be in there in there with him.'"
Later, her husband Rick took up the martial art, and under the direction of Roch Lefebvre at the New Glasgow Karate Club – a hard-pushing taskmasker whom the students loved – they all eventually earned black belts in the discipline.
This week, Cherry and Rick travelled to Penticton B.C., where they are playing a role in the 2019 Chito Ryu World Championships July 26 to 28. Rick will be a referee at some of the events, while Cherry, in the 50+ women’s division, will compete in kata (a series of linked movements, non-combat) as well as a weapons competition.
“I’ve never fought,” says Cherry, who is 70 years old and taught in schools around Pictou County during her professional years.
“I was too old when I started (studying karate). After that first class, the next day I could barely move. I was afraid to go to the adult class.”
Knowing she was going to be competing at the world championships was a motivating factor for her to learn new skills, which she will can apply to the New Glasgow Karate Club, where she is the sensei, or lead instructor.
“I don’t really enjoy competition – I don’t compete for the sake of competing,” she says. “This was more of an opportunity to force myself to practice, and to get better at what I need to learn to teach. There are different karate styles, so it was a motivation for me. I had to get better – not learn – three high-level kata.”
Her husband is very proud of her and that she is still driven to get better at teaching.
“Here is someone who is willing to invest the energy and the time to be as good as she can be,” he says.
The International Chito Ryu Karate Federation holds its World Karate Championship every three years. 
This year's event in Penticton  include team kata, team kumite, individual kata and kumite, and a weapons division, which is new to the competition. 

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