Ulysse Homier is a second-degree black belt who gets his kicks on high. Now the West Kootenay athlete is preparing for the world championships. Story by Will Johnson.

Mountain climbing and martial arts may seem like radically different sports, but both require a disciplined mind and a devotion to precision. The two pursuits are married in the mind of Nelson, British Columbia, resident Ulysse Homier, because it’s in the mountains where he finds the peace necessary to propel him into his competitions. And if all goes well, his next big tournament will be the 2020 World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships. “My love for martial arts began when I was growing up in Quebec and really loved Jackie Chan movies,” Homier says. “But my love for the mountains started even younger. When I was only five months old, my dad, Jérôme Homier, who was a pro rock climber at the time, and my mother left with me for a five-month-long hiking trip through the French Pyrenees. My dad said I always looked happy there and that I loved the mountains already.”

Photos taken by Ulysse’s brother Cyrille in Kokanee Glacier Park near the summit of Esmeralda Peak.

In fact, the family was so passionate about climbing that Homier had an indoor rock-climbing wall built for him before he could even walk. His lifelong love affair with the mountains is only rivalled by his zeal for taekwando. Upon discovering it as a teenager, he began training religiously, neglecting his homework and friends to dedicate himself to the sport. Eventually he landed in British Columbia, and in 2015 he moved to Nelson, where he enjoyed exploring the mountains and training at the Kootenay Martial Arts dojang. Soon he was competing. In 2017, he travelled to Florida for a national competition and won two gold medals.

Now a second-degree black belt, the 22-year-old is gearing up for the world championship in Denmark. “I have some really big goals in the future for martial arts, and I’m currently training eight or nine times a week as well as doing calisthenics to improve my overall strength,” he says. “Martial arts is more than just a sport to me. It’s a discipline and a way of life. When I train, I want to train not only my body but also my mind and spirit as well. The mountains feel like the perfect place to do that.”