Team Canada Captures 4th Place in YiXing, China
By on Sat, Apr 06, 2013

I’d like to say that the Canadian team came to China fashionably late on Thursday evening but, in all honestly, they were probably exhausted and tired from a very long delayed flight into China and then another 3 hour bus trip to the city of Yixing.  I remember hearing officials talking about trying to find where the Canadian team was and one of them said, they will be late for weigh-ins.  So the Chinese officials made an exception to have a second weigh-in that night just for the Canadian team which in return was lucky for a few fighters from other countries that also arrived much later than expected.  Jasmine Butler, a female fighter from team Canada, with relief said that “we were all proud to say we all made weight… we enjoyed a delicious buffet at the Yixing Hotel, then went to bed to rest for the tournament” which was literally less than 12 hours away after their dinner.

The team came in strong and ready to fight, defeating enough opponents to have a good amount of their team place top 6 in multiple categories(which is a hard feat to accomplish especially since everyone is fighting the best fighters from all around the world). After capturing a spectacular 4th place team finish, members of the team went to continue their travels to Beijing to climb the Great Wall, explore the Forbidden City, and whisper their prayers at the Temple of Heaven.  While taking in the sites of the historical and ancient landmarks the team was also breath taken by what Butler calls “one of the best Wushu performances of all time”.  From this great trip and unforgettable experience, a teacher was born.  The Canadian team honored their teammate, Jeremy Kurcz, to a traditional Chinese banquet and awarded him with the official honors of the title “Sifu” which was a befitting end for an epic journey.

Jazz Butler – 2nd Place
Matt Hand – 3rd Place
Ernesto Bernal – 3rd Place
Jeremy Kurcz – 4th Place
Alicia Albert – 4th Place
Melanie LaCourcierre – 5th Place
Trevor Labonte – 5th Place
Jerrett Hansen – 6th Place
Joey Li – 6th Place

canada-team-pic(photo by Steve Dreadlord, Team Canada. from left to right, top: Sean Bardgett, Trevor Labonte, Tom Fancsy, Melanie Lacourciere, Ernesto Bernal, Matthew Hand, Colin Cooper, Nick Hand, Jasmine Butler. middle: Alicia Albert, Joey Li, Jeremy Kurcz. bottom: Jay McCoy, Jarrett Hansen.)

Here’s a letter from the Coach of Shuai-chiao Kung Fu Team Canada , Jay McCoy:

When people ask me about my dreams regarding this martial sport, I have stated that I don’t have dreams – I make plans. Dreams are a disconnection from getting things done. Plans are part of the process of making things happen. But I suppose being one of the top three countries was something of a dream.

Placing top 6 again would have been enough. We knew that this was going to be a tougher competition than the last one. Placing top 6 again would prove that our previous success hadn’t been just a fluke. Placing even higher was a goal that seemed remote, but possible.

When I learned that we had placed 4th, my heart nearly leapt from my chest. This was momentous. But, it became even a little tastier when my student, Jeremy reminded me that since China’s A and B teams took first and second, we were, in fact, the third highest country in the world in Shuai-Chiao Kung Fu.

Canada’s B Team consisted of just two fighters: Sean Bardgett and Tom Fancsy. They had similar experience. Each spanked a fighter from a South American country and then, unfortunately, both were eliminated after each suffered two close-scoring losses. Still, both looked like they belonged out there.

 This was not the only trouble we faced. I sent Nick Hand on “Mission Improbable”. Though he is only an intermediate level student, Nick entered what is generally known as one of the toughest divisions. This year was no exception. Nick had a tough draw and was eliminated from competition early. Nick is quick study and has progressed in this martial art/combat sport unusually quickly; but, the much more experienced competition was a little too much. He is not at all discouraged, however. Nick is aware that with continued dedication, he has the capability of being among the best in the world.

Our big boys ran into some trouble when we discovered they’re not that big.

Trevor Labonte entered the super-heavyweight division, 100+ kg (220+ pounds), weighing in at only 200 pounds. His lightest competitor was about 250 and his heaviest opponent weighed in at 286. Despite his quick feet and energetic approach, that was too much for this talented rookie. But, he snagged a fifth place finish.

Colin Cooper (our light-heavyweight) weigh-in at only 188 in the 198 division. Heavyweight, Jerrett Hansen suffered some inexplicable weight loss just two weeks before the competition. He, too, weigh-in at only 188 for the 220-and-under division. Their opponents clearly had cut weight to make those two divisions. In fact, it would appear the Chinese and Mongolian athletes were given some ‘wiggle-room’ for their weigh-ins.

Colin and Jerrett’s matches were similar: being of comparable skill level to their opponents, the first half of their matches were uneventful. Neither they nor their opponents were able to score much. Then their opponents would switch to tactics in which their strength advantage would assist them. Fluidly applied thunderous shucks sent Colin’s hands and Jerrett’s hands to the mat. They looked stunned as their opponents began capturing cheap, easy points this way.

In the end, Colin had no official placing and had to settle for Top Twelve (a 4-man tie for 9th place). Jerrett faired a little better in the placings and snatched a 6th place.

Alicia Albert had a similar experience. Alicia weighed-in at 74 kg, only to be told that her division was empty. 74 kg is a tough division; people are known to run from it by cutting to the 68 division, but no one expected everyone to cut out of it.

This should have left Alicia with a Gold Medal and earned our team 9 points; however, we were told of a by-rule that states that no points will be awarded unless the athlete has someone to fight. So, Alicia bravely opted to fight in the women’s super-heavyweight division, though her opponents towered over her. And had a 40 to 50 pound advantage. Alicia placed 4th.

Our other ladies had a great weekend.

Melanie LaCourciere fought well above her rookie status and took 5th. 

According to her coach, Melanie learned something about sport. It is easy to stay pumped up when moving from one victory to another, but a defeat can set up a mental barrier that is difficult to overcome. McCoy states proudly that Melanie was tougher than her initial set-back, “Mel, trained hard and went in confidently; but after a butt-kicking was handed to her by the French 12-year veteran of the sport, she began to wonder if she was ready for this level. I could see her sinking and was unsure if she was going to recover psychologically enough for her next matches. – Somehow, she found her way back to “the zone”.  As Melanie describes it, “In the beginning of the tournament I felt discouraged, as my competitors from France & China had been training most of their lives, and I only a short 6 months. I knew going in that I was the rookie; I also knew I had trained hard, and had potential to be the dark-horse It was my last fight against team USA, I had nothing to lose by putting it all out on the mat. One point after another, I became stronger and stronger. All my hard work and training had prevailed and before I knew it the fight was over and the ref was pointing in my corner. I had won against a black belt who had been training for four years. No words can describe the amount of joy I felt in that moment. Knowing my hard work had paid off and I that I had proven myself worthy of having the great opportunity to fight in the world championships.

“Her training partner, Jazz Butler, who has only a little more experience, grabbed a Silver Medal – the highest placement of the Canadian team. Her boyfriend, Nick (mentioned earlier),continues to brag about his sweetheart’s amazing accomplishment, “I’m telling everybody about my girl and how proud I am of her.”

15 year old, Joey Li has the distinction of being the only teenager of his division to not forfeit from the tournament upon realizing that most of the competitors were men in their 20’s and 30’s with more than 15 years experience. For his bravery, Joey was given 6th place.

 Jeremy Kurcz placed 4th. It was his second proudest moment of the trip. The proudest moment being a ceremony wherein he received his black belt. After 7and half years of training in the martial art, science, and sport of shuai-chiao kung fu. Jeremy now carries the rank of Sifu.

Ernesto Bernal had a rough start, but fought his way back to the Bronze Medal match. Therein, he and his American counterpart fought to a draw. After much deliberation, the officials made the unprecedented decision to award the fighters a tie for 3rd place, as one seemed no less worthy than the other.

Matt Hand also took home the Bronze medal. Matt’s technical proficiency during this championship was the most impressive of all the Canadian fighters.

Congratulations to TEAM CANADA!

Sifu Jay McCoy

You can visit the SCKF Team Canada site at:
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Emeric Chen

Chief Editor

San Jose, CA

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Emeric Chen is the founder, chief editor and publisher at He has been studying and practicing Shuaijiao for over 18 years and is currently a coach in San Jose, California. He is also a former U.S. National Champion and Pan American Champion in Shuaijiao.

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