Nov. 12, 2002 More than 300 martial artists of all ages and levels packed the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center last weekend to participate in the fifth International Open Karate/ Martial Arts Tournament Battle of the Champions.
The martial arts school Ja Goyu Jitsu-Ryu sponsored the competition that featured demonstrations and seminars by three world-renowned grandmasters. Grandmaster Louis Jackson directed the program.
Grandmaster Dr. Fumio Demura of Japan demonstrated his mastery of Japanese weapons, known as Kabudo. Demura has been featured in a number of television programs and movies including "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and "The Karate Kid" trilogy, and most recently in the soon-to-be-released "The Last Samurai" with Tom Cruise.
Professor Stanford McNeal of Missouri demonstrated his own form of self-defense known as Kisaru. And Sultan Uddin from the Philippines wowed the crowed with his adept handling of Escrima Sticks.
Nine Caribbean karate schools from Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Tortola and St. Thomas participated in the event.
On Sunday, participants ranging in age from 3 to 35 took to the floor in a series of matches in more than 100 divisions, which included competition in weapons, fighting and karate discipline.
During the afternoon session on Sunday an overflow crowd was treated to three-man black belt competition by some of the premiere martial artists of the region.
Joseph Leonard, director of the Ji-Kido Yu Do Martial Arts Federation of Tutu, described his group's participation in the tournament with these words: "Good spirit, good discipline and good competition."
Radio personality Alex Randall said the tournament represents children learning how to compete and, in the process, learning important life lessons.
The tournament ended with the presentation of over 400 trophies, medals and certificates allowing all participants a sense of accomplishment.
Africa Anthony, an 11-year-old competitor from St. John, said, "I really enjoyed the tournament and look forward to next year's competition."
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