Shana Kavaloff puts her heart into breaking boards to raise funds for Martial Arts for Justice.

Locals join in martial arts for justice fundraiser.

Taekwondo students participate in Breaking Boards Breaking Chains event.

Betsy Kline

Castlegar News

Two Castlegar martial arts groups joined together Friday night to fight human trafficking and slavery. More than 20 students from Kootenay Christian Martial Arts and Selkirk Taekwondo participated in the Breaking Boards Breaking Chains event.

Master Dean Siminoff of Kootenay Christian Martial Arts explained: “We have two schools joined together tonight, not competing, but joining together for justice.  This is very unusual in the martial arts world. There is always a bit of a competitive nature, but we are turning that competitive nature into good.”

The event was organized by Martial Arts for Justice, a Kootenay organization Siminoff started.

The funds raised go to International Justice Mission, a group that works around the world to fight slavery, illegal property seizure, sexual violence, illegal detention, and police brutality. IJM’s vision is: “To rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible.”

Students took pledges based on the number of boards they could break during the event. The participants in Castlegar raised close to $2,000 and the national campaign has brought in over $20,000 so far.

Master Sean Costain of Selkirk Taekwondo explained why he got involved: “The tenets of taekwondo are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit.  We try and use all of the tenets themselves. ‘I shall be a champion of freedom and justice’ is the one that inspired Master Dean.”

Siminoff added, “We look at that every day, but what are we really doing about it? That is what motivated this.”

If you would like to support this cause, more information is available at martialartsforjustice.org.