Universal Martial Arts Championships

The 43rd Annual Universal Martial Arts Championships held on March 11, 2017 at the Springdale Recreation Center, Lancaster, South Carolina. This event sponsored by Hanshi James White and Universal Karate Studios is always a pleasure to attend.  The weather though a little chilly did not stop competitors and spectators from attending.  Competitors from across the United States and Abroad came to attend this event in order to achieve 1st place and become known as an International Champion.  With the expertise of Head Coordinators: Kyoshi Corey Waiters and Sabumnim Donald McCluney the rings ran more smoothly than ever. With Master Jerome "Magic" Johnson as arbitrator, everyone had someone to go to if there were any questions.  After the Black Belt Judges meeting, the event went into full swing as competitors went to their respective rings for competition to begin.  Ujjwai Thakuri from Washington, DC performed a special demonstration. Mr. Thakuri carried 140 pounds with his teeth while breaking boards and doing a kata. He also lifted 280 pounds with his teeth while performing a split using two chairs.  This was remarkable example of concentration and internal power.
This year's event included grappling and the kids enjoyed every moment of it.  Those who received 1st place were Jacob Nesbitt (Fly Wt.), Clint Nesbitt (Feather Wt.), and Morgan Land (Lt. Wt.).  The younger kids 3 – 4 year olds enjoyed the obstacle course and flag sparring, Dashawn Ingram, Nikiya Odom, Shawn Laney, Johnathan Love and Tristan Scott really found these activities to be lots of fun in showing off their skills to everyone.  These are the next generation of martial artist and are on their way of becoming great martial artists.  The children's 5-year-old sparring divisions see Keacan Benion and Austin Freeman Kelly become champions, while Emanuel Morales and Jeremiah Salley become champions in the 6-7 boys sparring. A few of the other sparring champions 8 – 17 year olds included: Jaylen Coleman, Isabella West, Elihu Lipscomb, Xiamara Pirdgeon, Stephen Zargo, and Angela Vincent.
The 6 – 17 year old under-belt traditional/open weapons/kata forms and musicals found divisions with as many as twenty five competitors, these divisions were split to give competitors a better chance of winning 1st place against so many.  Among these champions were Addie Miller, Mili Love, Laney Pena, Logan Christian, Jayla Oldfield, Gavin Dollarhite, Tyson Coleman, and Benjamin Notarangelo. take 1st place with their awesome kata performances. When it came to the Self-Defense division for the 17 and under Jacob Rosiek demonstrated ways to defend against an attacker.  Sparring is always an exciting division as Daniel Vincent, II, Benjamin Notarangelo, Jeriah Stradvord, Dirk Villacruz, Sheyla Funderburk, Rebecca Aguilar and Kaylee Tackett to name a few proved to be worthy of 1st place in their divisions.  The 18+ under-belt forms and musicals divisions delivered champions Darryl Burr, John Martin, Tim Buckalem, Camille Sain, and Michael Holmes. The sparring divisions are always a joy to watch and very exciting. Robert Land, Jamal Gasque, Christine Cleveland, Sherry Burr are among those who became 2017 International Champions in the sparring divisions.
The Jr. Black Belt and Adult Black Belt division's shows spectators and other competitors more precise and sharper skills while judged at a higher level.  Traditional/Open/Musical forms saw Courtney Criminger, Richard Sowell, Jeremy Nobles, Aalison Pena, Gabriel Guise, Suzanne Neito, Clint Merchant and Jamie Pennington, rise to the top as International Champions. There were more than twenty competitors in the  Black Belt Men's sparring division and watching them will not only keep you on the edge of your seat but you will also become emotionally involved.  They battled for the right to brag not only for the International Champion but also for the Grand Champion as well.  Among those were Danny Antoine, Jerry Hamilton, Johnny Blackmon, Darryl Evans, Trevir Gasque and Clint Moore.  The women were just as fierce as Hope Hamilton, Danielle Thomas, Courtney Criminger and Wykenia Tillman battle for their bragging rights as well.
The competition was very fierce with so many competitors coming for the 7 ft. trophies and Grand Championships, those who participated did so with open hearts, hard determination, dedication and a will to go to the end to prove who the best was that day. Congratulations to all competitors and winners, Thank you to all the parents and spectators who can out to cheer on the competitors, and Thank you to the staff, students and family of Hanshi James White and the Universal Karate Studios for making this one of the most memorable events of the year.

Grand Champions
Women's Black Belt Sparring –   Hope Hamilton
Black Belt Kata  - Allison Pennington
18+ Black Belt Sparring – Gabe Gruse
35+ Executive Black Belt Sparring - Keith Green

Shoguns
Shogun 18+  - Danielle Hagan
Shogun 17-  - Marcus Delossantos

Next Dojo Organization sanctioned event is:
40th Annual Winter/Spring Festival Open
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Family Ministry Center of First Baptist Church – Union Road