Saugus native Shannon Laurin said she’s been training in karate since she was in diapers.
“My parents do it,” Laurin said. “So it’s kind of like something that I was born into.”
Laurin’s dad, Michel, runs Santa Clarita Karate in Saugus. It’s where she learned to train, ultimately becoming a black belt at the age of 7, and prepare for the tournaments she would go to growing up.
These days, Laurin, 27, is teaching karate herself, taking students to tournaments and watching them grow and succeed in the sport she grew up with.
Despite taking on the title of teacher, Laurin still finds time to show off her skills herself, traveling to select tournaments, mostly in the United States. Last month, she went to Las Vegas for the International Ozawa Cup, a prestigious tournament known across the world, according to Laurin, and won the S1 Female division for black belts for women ages 18 to 34 in the tournament’s final year of existence.
“There were thousands of competitors there,” Laurin said. “In my division alone, there were over 20 elite black belt women from all over the world. So, it was a great tournament, and I was glad to be part of it and to be able to win their final tournament that they did.”
Laurin said that she went through the five rounds of competition with relative ease, her toughest fight coming in the second round against a competitor from Mexico that went to double overtime.
“I felt confident the whole time,” Laurin said. “In all of my fights, I felt like it was definitely something that I could do, I believed that I could win. But my competition was tough. The people that I fought were all really good, respectable fighters.”
Laurin used to go to more tournaments than she does now, but with her teaching, she’s decided to focus more on the high-level tournaments rather than simply going to everything she could. Her next stop is a tournament in Canada on Memorial Day weekend in which she will be competing in koshiki fighting. That differs slightly from the kumite fighting at the Ozawa Cup in that it is full contact.
Laurin also has plans to go to the World Championships in Tokyo next summer. She had originally planned to go in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down.
Laurin is excited for that tournament as she is hoping to match her dad’s accomplishment of holding the title of world champion, one that he held six times.
“I grew up always hearing about that and knowing that that was something that I also would like to do,” Laurin said. “And it’s in the style of fighting that I grew up doing the most … that rule set and more full-contact kind of fighting I’m more passionate about, so I’m really excited to compete at the highest level in that.”
For now, Laurin is focused on the Memorial Day tournament, where she will be coaching her students as well as competing herself. She will be bringing four students with her, and her hope is to see them succeed in the same way that she has.
“The biggest goal is to try to make your students even more successful than yourself,” Laurin said. “I get so excited even at the tiny, tiny tournaments that we do just between our own students at the dojo, I always get super excited. So, it’s really fun to kind of like, watch them grow and see what they do.”
Santa Clarita Karate is located at 27737 Bouquet Canyon Road. Shannon Laurin was featured in a previous story in The Signal. To see that story, go to tinyurl.com/33zrtmd9.