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WORLD CHAMP – Aparna Verma of Eight Days Martial Arts proudly displays her medals from the World Karate and Kickboxing Union (WKU) World 2023 Championship in Calgary. The championships took place Oct. 16-22.

Yukon kick boxer achieves remarkable results at world championships

A Yukon kick boxer has achieved remarkable results in a short time.

By Morris Prokop on November 22, 2023

A Yukon kick boxer has achieved remarkable results in a short time.

Aparna Verma captured gold and silver medals at the World Karate and Kickboxing Union (WKU) World 2023 Championship in Calgary recently.

The Champs took place Oct. 16-22.

Verma competed for Team Canada in the Female Executives (45+) division.

“It was nice because Team Canada was so large it was really an extensive support system, which was good too,” she related.

Verma won gold in light kickboxing and silver in K-1.

Needless to say, she was pleased with her results.

“I’ve been to a few different competitions. And I think that was definitely the toughest. Those were the toughest ones. And it was really weird to be competing against people from all over the world and to see so many different countries there but it was really exciting for me. I was just really really happy, and kind of happy that it was over because it was a long five days.”

This was the first time Verma fought at a world level, although she fought in a world open competition in Iowa in June.

At that comp, she didn’t have to qualify, and fought in Muay Thai.

Verma said in the K1 in Calgary, she lost to someone who’s “very, very experienced.”

In light kickboxing, she found herself up against another Canadian.

“It’s tough when you’re fighting someone who’s on your own team.”

Having said that, Verma added, “It was just really, really exciting to take home a medal.”

Verma has lived in the Yukon since 2019. She’s a member of Eight Days Martial Arts, whose head coach is Robert Woodman.She started working with Woodman in August 2022.

“I’ve never done any martial arts prior to that.”

Woodman, wasn’t able to attend the event in Calgary, as he was in Port Coquitlam, B.C. at the time (see related story p. 17).

“She did really well,” related Woodman. “Considering she’s only been training for maybe about a year, she’s kind of paving the path for the next generation of competitors for us going out there for Muay Thai or kickboxing. She’s got a lot of trophies and medals here.

“It’s pretty inspiring to see what you can put your mind to. If you train hard enough, you can do it.”

Woodman described what makes Verma so good at what she does.

“She’s very resilient, and she’s very tough. She doesn’t give herself enough credit. She works very, very hard. Trains multiple times a day and is just a warrior. She’s a good influence on the people in the gym here. They’re seeing what she’s accomplished here with the medals and stuff like that. She’s definitely talked about, so, it’s pretty awesome.”

She’s also connected with 5 Elements Martial Arts in Calgary, headed by David Shin.

Verma explained how she ended up working with Shin.

“I went down to Calgary to visit family. I thought, ‘I should find a gym while I’m here.’ And there’s a lot of gyms in Calgary but you know what’s interesting, is there’s something about that gym that I wanted to go to and they ended up basically just adopting me, They knew that I fight for a Yukon gym. When Bobby (Woodman) can’t be there, they’re the ones who pinch-hit as my coaches and look after me when I’m in competitions.

“They’ve just been so awesome and so supportive and they were the ones that got me involved in the WKU competitions, because the WKU really has a very strong women’s initiative. They really want more women competing and so they’re really, really supportive of women competing. They’re always looking to make sure that you get fights, make sure you have opponents.”

“I believe that we share great chemistry that is essential in fighting; something that is difficult to find,” said Shin.

“Its been an pleasure to see Aparna work so hard, put herself out there, and never back down. Regardless of experience, age, and skill, Aparna will take on any competitors in the ring. It is a privilege to work with someone who represents the spirit of martial arts so well in our community.”

Verma spoke about also representing the Yukon.

“When I first went to my first competition with WKU and I was in B.C. and everyone got to know me because I was this woman who had come from the Yukon.

“Everybody from Team Canada knew I was from the Yukon. I had my little flag with me and everyone just knew that’s the one competitor from the Yukon.”

Verma is thinking of changing lanes in the future.

“When I started going to Eight Days, we started with jiu jitsu and we started with Muay Thai, and I fell in love with Muay Thai but I always wanted to do jiu jitsu, but we felt that while I was continuing to compete, it was a bit too much to try and do both. And now I’d like to try jiu jitsu. The jiu jitsu guys, like, Bobby’s fight team is really, really competitive. And I’m not quite sure that I’m at that level, but I’d like maybe to someday to be at a competitive level in it.”

The fighter has suffered her share of hard knocks while competing.

“I have not gotten through unscathed. I’ve had my bruised rib and bruised nose and a black eye.”

Verma is also looking into taking judges and referees training.

“I’d love to see Yukoners competing and now that Muay Thai and kickboxing are sanctioned by the Olympics, someday I’d love to see a Yukoner in the Olympics.”

As for coaching, Verma said, “I like the idea of coaching but I also don’t think I’m ever going to be as good as my coach (Woodman). He had the patience of a saint. There’s not many people who would have dealt with someone like me, like completely not athletic, never been athletic. I have a lot of limitations.

“Coach Bobby didn’t bat an eyelash. He was like, ‘Okay, you want to compete? Here we go.’ And the best part about it was he understood my limitations. There are certain things that I’m not athletic enough to do and so we said, ‘Okay, well, we’ll work on the things that I can do and the things that I can get good at and learn to defend it against the things that I can’t do.”

Verma described the difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing.

“Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs and so that’s fists, elbows, knees and shins.

“Kickboxing, it’s similar. Usually, in my kickboxing competitions. You can’t really use elbows. You can’t clench most of the time except in K1. And then often the striking with your legs is a little bit different. But like I still fight in a Muay Thai style in kickboxing competitions. So sometimes it’s just a little bit different and how if my opponent is more of a kickboxing or Glory kickboxing, or they might be a karate specialty, so sometimes you just have to deal a little bit with the differences.

“Usually, when I’m up against an opponent, I’m trying to figure out, ‘Do they kick or do they hit? What is their preference?’”

Going up against someone with a karate background can be an advantage for Verma.

“If I can get in there and walk around the kicks I can punch and they won’t be as strong as that.”

Verma added, “Coach Bobby has been amazing, but I also have gotten support from other folks in Yukon as well.

Charles Eshleman was really good at giving me some advice.

“When I first started, my legs were so weak that I went to Ross Nesbitt and said I need personal training to help me fix my legs. And he was amazing at getting my legs a lot stronger.”

Verma said she doesn’t think she would have been able to compete without their help.

She said that she’s been lucky to have a lot of support during her career.

“I’ve had a lot of support in the Yukon. I’ve had a lot of support from the coaching and fighting team in Calgary with 5 Elements.”

She’s even gotten support from Rojas Muay Thai, an outfit out of Dallas.

“I found them on Facebook and they took me with them to fight camp in Mexico in March.”

A funny coincidence involving Rohas happened when she went to fight in Iowa.

“They were gonna do my coaching when I went to that world competition in Iowa, which is the one I’d been training for. And then I ended up fighting their fighter. So that’s when Bobby was like, ‘Okay, I’m coming to Iowa and I’ll coach you.’

“It definitely caught us off guard. We were not expecting that to happen.”

Verma added, “Everywhere I go, people are just so willing to help just for the love of the sport.”

Comments (1)

Up 3 Down 0

Sporting sort on Nov 25, 2023 at 5:47 pm

Remarkable achievements Verma you are inspiring. Congratulations!

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