"Maybe you guys could pretend you're fighting for the photo?"
The father and son pair jump at the chance, both grinning from ear to ear at the rare opportunity to test their skills against each other.
After slipping on their sparring gloves, they launch right into battle. They aren't worried about good angles for the camera, and they aren't taking it easy. They're throwing their best moves at each other — their proud smiles reflecting off each other's faces.
"That should be good," I say, cuing the end of the photo shoot.
As I lower my camera, Nathan is suddenly on his back on the mat, Nick's leg sweeping back beneath his body as a triumphant grin creeps across his face.
"That one hurt," Nathan says, smiling up at his dad, admitting his defeat.
Nick and Nathan Anness have been bonding in the sparring ring for the better part of the last decade. This past Father's Day, not only were the father and son bonding, the two Benoit's Martial Arts athletes were winning a slew of medals at the 2012 WKA National Karate Championships in Montreal.
Nathan, 15, competing in the 13-17 Boys category, brought home the gold medal and defended his national title in Traditional Kumite. He also won a bronze medal in Traditional Kata. Nick, competing in the 35-44 Mens category, also brought home the gold medal and the national title in Traditional Kumite, as well as silver medals in Traditional Kata, and Traditional Weapons.
In a few month's time, they'll be en route to Florida, where they hope to add world championship medals to their haul.
Both have been to the world competition before — it's the second time for Nick and the fourth time for Nathan — but it's the first time they'll be going together.
Nick said he's looking forward to seeing his son "on the podium at the same international competition," while Nathan said he's anxious to watch his dad compete, and improve on the silver medal he won at his last world championship.
In fact, it was Nathan, an only child, who pushed his dad to join karate.
"It was something to do together," he said. "We had some things we could do together, but there wasn't a lot."
Nick was a martial artist as a child, but said he'd been out of the sport for 18 years before his son, seven years old at the time, encouraged him to get back into it.
"It's been amazing," Nick said. "It's helped with flexibility and exercise that I don't get very often."
It's also brought the pair closer together.
"It brings me great pride to watch the two of them, and watch them grow together," Sally Anness said of her husband and son. "Seeing them at home to seeing them in the karate world — they push each other more like brothers do, but still have the father-son aspect."
While Nick and Nathan may not have the opportunity to spar much with each other because of their age difference, they still push each other in their training.
"I won't let him cut corners," Nick said. "Most of the forms and stuff that he's doing, I know what they should be like, even if I can't do them myself, and I won't let him get away with (doing them wrong), I make sure he pushes himself to excel at every aspect of his training."
"We don't stop," Nathan said. "It's non-stop."
The father-son duo is headed to the World Championship, being held at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, from Sept. 22-29.
Posted by Laurel Myers