The 2011 Karate for Christ tournament took place this past Saturday at The Centers at Bishop Park and it had its biggest turn out yet in its third year of existence in Arkansas. With about 150 entrants on one gym floor last year, this year’s event brought closer to 300 competitors from five states.
Karate for Christ state representative and U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Teague said there were entrants from Tennessee, Kentucky, W. Virginia, four martial arts schools from Louisiana and two from Texas. Teague is also the the North American continental representative for Karate for Christ and the 2011 Black Belt of the Year.
“We want to show that we can train in martial arts and glorify God with it still,” Teague said. “There are many Karate for Christ schools here, several that were just sanctioned today in fact. I think we have a total of nine schools in Arkansas that are Karate for Christ schools.”
After the opening ceremonies, the event kicked off with the black belt forms competition and was followed by other martial arts action throughout the day. Kata, choreographed martial arts exercises, point sparring, weapons competition, grappling (jujitsu), and karate flag, sword and shield were the events that took place on 15 open rings and two jujitsu rings.
“This is so exciting,” Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs said. “I had no idea that [the event] would be this big. The fact that they’re reaching out and impacting so many kids that they have something to come and do like this, it’s such a blessing that we can host it here in Bryant now.”
In past tournaments, the kids’ events would be held first and the black belt forms competition would end the day, but Teague said they wanted to change it up this year.
“[The children] won’t start competing until we get through the black belts.” Teague said. “I wanted everybody to see the black belts do their forms competition first.
“They usually do start the little kids first, but they’re gone by the time the black belts compete at the end and never get to see this. I want them to see what they’ve got to look forward to. If they just train hard enough, they can do this.”
One man competing in the black belt forms competition was 29-time national champion Jim Robinson. From Fountain Lake Martial Arts, Teague said the 54-year-old Robinson kicks 2,000 times a day and has never seen the 1989 world champion and 2011 international champion get beat.
“Master Robinson told me once; he said a guy asked him ‘You kick so much better than anyone in your ring. How does that happen?’ He said because I train harder than anyone in that ring. If you kick 1,000 times a day, you’ll kick like that.”
The forms competition came down to a tie between Robinson and Arcadia, La., native Gary Bourgeois, of Bourgeois Martial Arts Academy. Robinson was a winner once again when he defeated Bourgeois in the playoff.
“The competition is very, very high level,” Bourgeois said. “I’ve seen these guys for the last five or six years and it’s the same thing every time we come out here.”
“It was a great competition,” Robinson said. “There were a lot of top-notch competitors here from several different states. It’s just an honor to be here. I’ve been in law enforcement for 30 years and it’s just something I love to do.”
“I love the kids,” Robinson continued. “This is what it’s all about. Teaching these guys and watching them do it. It’s the greatest thing in the world. Nothing like the joy you get from giving a kid something.”