September 11th, is a day known for being the anniversary of the collapse of the twin towers, is a day that inspires patriotism and pride in all proud Americans. Seems perfect that today was the day a tournament is held. When I showed up with my camera, notebook, and trusty pen, I was more than ready to snap photos and interview the best athletes I could find, I immediately was blown away by the turn out. There were people young, old, local, non-locals, and even people that flew down to this World Championship event from states as far away as Tennessee, Missouri, and Canada.
As the event began, a usual standing national anthem occurred soon followed by the Estero Martial Arts head instructor breaking a bat in half, beginning the competition. I was blown away by this example of raw power, and I was simply amazed that the human body could even do that. And the scary part is, I heard he was holding back, and that he usually breaks two bats at the same time. Taking a few steps back, and hiding behind the bleachers so I couldn’t be called upon to be the new object for “breaking” I began studying the starting competition. I’ve never been to a Martial Arts tournament before. The closest thing I’ve ever been exposed to, is sitting in front of my TV watching the old Karate Kid movies with popcorn, a coke, and my “Cobra Kai” t-shirt. Those of you who loved that movie as much as I did will get the reference. Although I do have surround sound so I felt like I was in the movie itself. So naturally, I had extremely high expectations. I was casually gazing, looking for Mr. Miyagi to come in at any time and show these people what’s up. Sadly, he didn’t how up. However, I was taking notes when I recognized Johnny from the Karate Kid coming in. At least, he bared resemblance to Johnny as he had bleached hair, a pale complexion, a Karate uniform called a gi on, and a Karate build. After a brief interview I found out his name was Lucas Abbott, age 16. He stated in the interview that he was a second generation black belt, and was currently wearing his fathers black belt to the tournament to represent his family. Another person who I recognized as a look alike from the Karate Kid, was competing against Lucas in sparring, and forms. Although I did not get to interview this young man, I was told he was an XMA performer. For those who don’t know what XMA is, they are acronyms for Extreme Martial Arts. In which an athlete mixes gymnastics with martial arts to achieve a very entertaining performance. But since I don’t have his real name, let’s just stick with the Karate Kid reference and call him Daniel.
As the event began, Daniel went first. As he stepped onto what seemed to be a 20 by 20 foot mat, he faced the judges showing nothing yet, but confidence, and what appeared to be a sword tucked in his scabbard(sword case carried by Samurai). Suddenly, fast paced techno music came on and he whipped his sword out of the scabbard. As he was doing this, he performed a front flip and discarded the case and kept his sword firm in his hand. Show-casing his abilities, and skills, he flew through the air with a razor sharp sword doing front flips, lightning fast cuts, and yells that scared even a hardcore Karate Kid fanatic like myself. He was able to get a high score, and win his Extreme forms, and weapons divisions, and become the Estero Martial Arts Extreme World Champion.
Next up was Lucas performing traditional forms. He was against another Karate practitioner I didn’t get the privilege of talking to. He looked a little nervous, but confident enough in his abilities that he had an intimidating aura about him. He faced the judges and yelled the name of his form out as loud as he could. Just in case you were wondering, it was EXTREMELY loud. He went through the form taking slow but timely breaks to add emphasis in his punches and kicks. His uniform popped with every move and before I knew it, he was finished. After a few short bows on his way off of the padded mat, he was able to clench a nearly perfect score, beat his opponent, and become the Estero Martial Arts Forms World Champion.
As the day dwindled, I watched the remaining competition which included people of all shapes and sizes. Another young man who caught my attention was a regular attender of Estero Martial Arts, and who was able to win the over 18 sparring division. He was dressed for war, looked as if he were going to battle, and had an intense glare as he entered the mat. He kicked, and punched his way to victory and achieved a first place trophy, and a sword as a prize. When the competition was done, the owner thanked everybody around for coming out to the event as he prepared to take off himself. To my joy, he promised that there would be another tournament next year. I look forward to seeing these defending champions, and interviewing more of them. Until next year where there will be more competitors, more titles, and hopefully a few more memorable moments.
The official publisher of “The GatorTail Times”Has written many articles, and is one of the biigest rising new author in Tampa, Florida – John Callum