OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A karate king at the top of his sport and on his way to the 2020 Olympics, took some time to visit Kansas City this weekend. Damian Quintero shared what he's learned in 30 years of self-defense.
More than 100 million people across five continents practice karate. Ninety of them are in the Sheraton ballroom in Overland Park this weekend.
It is the eighth year of the Elite Winter Camp, but the first to have Damian Quintero instructing. Quintero is the top karate competitor in the world right now. A former World Champion, he is guaranteed a spot in the Olympics representing his native Spain.
He took time from his own Olympic training to come to Kansas City to, as he said, "share, always sharing things," with those 90 karate students.
"For me, it`s nice to be here. It`s not hard training, because it`s sharing," he said with a smile on his face. "For me it`s relaxing, it refreshes my mind. Next year, next week, I start focusing on my main goal, which is to win the Olympics."
Nick Cain flew to Kansas City from Buffalo, New York for the opportunity to train with Quintero.
"Being able to train with him, it`s not too likely that you would be able to say that with your sport, that you`re able to train with an Olympic medalist," he said happily in between sessions.
Most people in the room would like to get near Quintero's elite level in karate. It just isn't likely, admitted Cain. "I just hope to make myself better. That`s one thing that`s big with my martial arts, for improvement and to reach my fullest potential. Being around these types of people and coaches, it just raises your level up."
And, as young children posed with Quintero for pictures post-lesson, for a few precious minutes, they were.
Having such an age range was a challenge to teach, admitted Quintero. "It`s really hard, because the level is so different. But the people that come to the seminar, want to watch you, to share, to be close with you."
He did his best to share a bit of what his decades in the sport have taught him. More than anything, Quintero said, it's about respect.