Filipino Karateka Family Opens International Karate Daigaku Dojo in Scarborough

Community News & Features Oct 26, 2018 at 3:54 pm
Jeni Labor-Quigaman, Niljen  Harmonica Malijan, Paz Odasing Labor, Jeidelin Grace Quigaman, Sensei Nilo Quigaman, Neil  Jefferson Quigaman and Ai-Ai Quigaman.

Jeni Labor-Quigaman, Niljen
Harmonica Malijan, Paz Odasing Labor, Jeidelin Grace Quigaman, Sensei Nilo Quigaman, Neil
Jefferson Quigaman and Ai-Ai Quigaman.

By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter

Spearheaded by the Quigaman family, a new branch of the International Karate Daigaku dojo held a grand opening in Scarborough on October 13, 2018 in partnership with Mind Body Soul Studios. Students and instructors performed demos at the open house during which guests had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the school. The group of students and instructors at Unit 36 of 4500 Sheppard Avenue East in Scarborough has grown from humble beginnings. The dojo (martial arts school) family members met during training at the IKD Headquarters in Toronto back in 2012, which led to the affiliation of the Society for the Advancement of Karate Sports dojo in the Philippines. That same year, the first International Karate Daigaku World Cup took place at Ryerson University in Toronto where the seven member Philippine team affiliated with IKD represented the Philippines and won ten silver medals and one gold medal.

Eventually, the friends started a dojo at the University City Recreation Centre in October 2013, which was organized as a branch of the International Karate Daigaku with Sensei Nilo Quigaman as Head Instructor. This community initiative was open only to residents of the four neighboring buildings that share the facility. Over the years, the group’s success in provincial, national and world cup tournaments led to their growth and the opening of the new branch in Scarborough that will enable them to teach Shotokan Karate to a wider community. The dojo at the University City Recreation Centre will continue under the tutelage of Sensei Bert Arcositas, while the new dojo at 4500 Sheppard Ave. East is run by Sensei Nilo Quigaman with his wife Jennifer and children Niljen, Jeidelin, Neil, and Ai-Ai who are all karateka.

Instructors and students at the open house

Instructors and students at the open house                  (Photos: M. Ramos)

Photos: M. Ramos

In November 2016, he received the IKD Coupe Canada Cup Award for Best Male Brown-Black Belt Over 45 in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec City. His daughter, Ai-Ai Quigaman, joined the Ontario team and competed in the International Karate Daigaku’s World Cup Tournament last August 2018 in Barbados where they won 16 gold, 23 silver and 7 bronze medals. Sensei Nilo was born to a family with five siblings and his father died when he was less than a year old. Not wanting to burden his mother with his college tuition, he found ways to get his education paid for by earning a fifty percent scholarship as a commander in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He started his Karate training at the age of 21 as an Electrical Engineering student at the Central Colleges of the Philippines in Cubao, Quezon City where he joined the Japan Karate Association affiliated college karate club. He excelled as an athlete and was offered a teaching job in addition to representing his college in tournaments where he won awards, earning him another fifty percent scholarship.

He stopped competing when he moved to Canada in 2002 with his wife Jennifer and three young children where they faced challenges finding employment as new immigrants. They took odd jobs and worked as cleaners at the Mayfair Club as their first Canadian job. There, Sensei Nilo saw a karate class, which reignited his desire to train again. After adjusting to Canadian life, he searched for a JKA affiliated dojo in 2004 to resume training along with his wife and kids. As for why he feels learning karate is important to his family and why they teach it, he explains, “I want my family to always be healthy and to be able to defend themselves. In school, there is lots of bullying. My son was bullied before so I said my kids had to learn karate. We are not telling them to fight right away, but just in case they need to, they can defend themselves.” Sensei Nilo almost had to apply his skills when two men attempted to rob him while heading home from work late at night near Victoria Park and St. Clair five years ago. Fortunately, he was able to scare them off.

As for his advice for newcomers, he says, “When you come to Canada, you have to take whatever job you can find. Once you are settled, you can go for the job you want. If you want to get a better job, you have to study. Do not be so choosy when job hunting. Just grab any job you can when you’re new.”

Mario Lizares, Jhun Castro, Joseph De Vera, Sensei Nilo Quigaman, Shuseki Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai, Shihan Maureen Woon-A-Tai, Pastor Jun Leon of the Filipino Alliance Church of Toronto, Sensei Bert Arcositas, Jeni Labor-Quigaman, Gemma Leon, Sensei Ken Woon-A-Tai

Mario Lizares, Jhun Castro, Joseph De Vera, Sensei Nilo Quigaman, Shuseki Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai, Shihan Maureen Woon-A-Tai, Pastor Jun Leon of the Filipino Alliance Church of Toronto, Sensei Bert Arcositas, Jeni Labor-Quigaman, Gemma Leon, Sensei Ken Woon-A-Tai

Members of the Philippine team (in matching blue jackets) at the first IKD World Cup in 2012.  From left:  Mario Lizares  (in back),  Franklin Kawaen,  Herman  Tongpalen,  Oliver De  Guzman, David Lizares and  Nilo Quigaman

Members of the Philippine team (in matching blue jackets) at the first IKD World Cup in 2012.
From left: Mario Lizares (in back), Franklin Kawaen, Herman Tongpalen, Oliver De Guzman, David Lizares and
Nilo Quigaman

Nicole Boismenu, Leah Bergmanis and Ken-Woon-A-Tai

Nicole Boismenu, Leah Bergmanis and Ken-Woon-A-Tai