Guelph kickboxer breaks title record in martial arts tournament

Guelph martial artist Nathan Skoufis made history.

He won the Canadian Open Martial Arts Championships last weekend in Kitchener, breaking a martial arts record.

Skoufis said he liked that the open tournament featured competitors from different disciplines, including kickboxing and kung fu.

“Each person obviously presents their own challenges, and you might have to fight a little differently using the type of game plan you have for the game,” Skoufis said.

Skoufis added that you’re not always going to face an opponent with a background in karate or taekwondo.

“Each style has its own set of challenges and if you’re not really prepared for it, it can put you off a bit,” he said.

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He said that what is difficult in this tournament is that you don’t know when you are going to participate. Depending on when matches end, Skoufis said you can fight five minutes later or one to two hours later.

After finishing in first place at lightweight, he battled the winners of the senior and heavyweight divisions to win the overall grand champion title, his ninth in a row. The 27-year-old broke a martial arts record with the victory.

Skoufis said it was truly surreal to have won the title nine years in a row.

“It certainly means a lot because there are a lot of great martial artists all over the province, all over the country and you bring people in from the United States as well,” he said.

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Skoufis attributed her success in this competition not only to her training but also to her mother Sophie, who is also her coach.

“She’s been a big part of my martial arts journey,” he said. “She’s been with me throughout my martial arts journey, so she really knows my style and she knows what I’m trying to do in the match and my things that I rely on.”

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He added that his mother trains with him in the studio and at tournaments, which gives them a huge advantage.

Skoufis will compete in North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) tournaments across the United States this year, then prepare for the Team Canada qualifiers in Ottawa this summer.

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Kristen T. Prall