Sicamous black belt leads double life

This martial arts black belt has stunt doubled for a Hollywood beauty, competed all over the world, and now calls the Shuswap home.

Holly Raczynski

Holly Raczynski

This martial arts black belt has stunt doubled for a Hollywood beauty, competed all over the world, and now calls the Shuswap home.

In fact, accomplished martial arts competitor, coach and personal trainer Holly Raczynski has achieved so many titles in so many martial arts disciplines that it’s hard to keep track of them all, even for her. Add to that movie stunt work as well as a successful gymnastics career as a youngster, starting when she was age two.

“Sometimes, I have to check my own resume to see what I’ve done,” she laughed, when talking about her many successes in everything from taekwondo to jiu jitsu to shotokan karate. Raczynski, who moved to Sicamous from Calgary about a year ago, is planning to teach karate and kickboxing in the Shuswap.

In Calgary, she coached about 100 students of all ages in one of Alberta’s largest martial arts programs. After following a long-held dream to settle in the Shuswap, and having met many of her personal competitive goals, Raczynski realized she deeply missed the martial arts teaching she had always worked at and loved so much.

“I’ve been there and done that with competition for myself. From a young age, I had an excellent support system and so many people who helped me. I want to be that again for my students. We moved here about a year ago and I realized how much I’ve missed teaching. I’ve always loved it.”

Raczynski, who has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary, has been a third-degree black belt for about 10 years, as well as assistant director and instructor for 12 years with the Provincial Martial Arts Association (PMAA). When she moved to the Shuswap, she handed over a thriving coaching program to several instructors she’d trained to black-belt level herself.

“I’d had enough of the city. My significant other and I are small- town people. We always wanted to live here. I really want to start some community programs for karate and kickboxing here.”

Raczynski is excited to be starting the process of establishing strong competitive and recreational martial arts programs for both children and adults in Salmon Arm and Sicamous. She admits, after coaching so many students in Alberta, that starting here is a bit like starting all over again. However, Raczynski is up for the challenge and is looking forward to meeting people and teaching them just how much karate and kickboxing has to offer.

“Martial arts are the best for keeping physically active. It’s a lot more than just kicking and punching. It’s very empowering and teaches great self-confidence and respect for other people. It’s so well-rounded on so many levels. It’s also great for kids and helps them in other sports, and even at school.”

Along with coaching several styles of martial arts, Raczynski has worked as a stunt double on many movie sets in B.C. and Alberta. Most recently, she doubled for star Olivia Wilde in Tron: Legacy, a Disney production starring Jeff Bridges.

“Any of the kicks, flips or crashes she did, it was all me,” she laughed. Raczynski has also appeared in Smallville, The Watchmen and this fall, will be in Man of Steel, the new Superman movie.

Though she enjoys the movie stunt work, coaching is the most rewarding role for Raczynski, who was looking for a life-long sport after she retired from gymnastics.

“Gymnastics is a short-term sport. It’s so hard on your body. You’re done when you are fifteen or sixteen. I was looking for something I could do for the rest of my life. I want to teach people here about martial arts and all it has to offer.”

For information about Raczynski’s martial arts programs, call her at 250-253-2406 or go to www.provincialmartialarts.com.