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Francis Kirkland began studying martial arts in his late thirties after his son began competing – a decision that led to him becoming the 2006 provincial champion in his blue belt division.
Francis is now retired from competition and helps instruct other martial artists at Yorkton Martial Arts Training Centre.
Francis holds a black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, a brown belt in judo and is now learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
He continues practicing martial arts because he said it offers him a comprehensive way of life.
“I would call it mind-body-spirit. And it’s kind of a way of living—it’s a way of being. And when you compete and do martial arts it changes your perspective on things.”
Michael Forster is the owner of the training centre and says that Francis is a welcome addition.
“He’s kind of like a gentle giant. He has no ego [and] he has nothing to prove. So he’ll challenge those who need to be challenged and give a little bit of space for those that are smaller as well,” Forster said.
Zachary Gehl is a one of the students Francis challenges. Gehl hold 92 medals in national and international martial arts competitions and is currently training for two more tournaments.
“It’s really good to have someone who’s been competing at national [level] tournaments, just to give you that insight on what to do,” Gehl said.
Francis says that he intends to keep doing martial arts for as long as he can.
“[Martial arts] keeps you young and it keeps you happy,” he said. “I have a lot of years in me to give back.”
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