By: Marlana Ward
On Saturday, March 18, a local team of karateka, practioners of karate, left the high grounds of Mountain City for the urban sprawl of Charlotte, North Carolina to compete in the AAU National Championship Qualifying Competition. The team hailing from Yama Dojo, the karate school in Mountain City, set out to put their training and endurance to the test against some of the very best in the Southeast.
Hundreds of karate enthusiasts gathered at the Carole Hoefener Community Center in downtown Charlotte. Competitors were divided by gender, level of experience, and age. The floor was divided into four squares with contests being held simultaneously in each one. Spectators in the stands were treated to the opportunity to witness the differences in styles and schools as the skilled martial artists gave their best before judges, peers, and supporters.
Representing Yama Dojo was the team of Trish Hook, Ashley Cole, William Butler, Rory Springer, and Adam Manuel. The team has been trained under the watchful eyes of Sensei (teacher) Hotaru Rebekah Darocha and Sensei Monjin Chris Hook. Many hours of practice, drops of sweat, and even blistered hands were endured as the team readied themselves for battle.
As part of the Kurokawa family of karateka, Yama Dojo has a lot to live up to. Founded by Soke (grand master) Dr. Timothy Brooks and Lady Teruko Brooks, all Kurokawa dojos, or schools, are known for their high standards and dedication to the art of karate. Yama Dojo also holds the distinction of being a ministry based dojo, dedicating themselves to not only training their bodies but also using their talents in service to God and being a light wherever the team travels.
There were three types of competition held at the AAU event. The first was kata in which a series of martial arts moves are performed in sequence. Next was the weapon demonstrations of kobudo. Yama Dojo had competitors using bo staff, kama (similar to sickles), and sai, a three-pronged weapon. The final competition style was that of kumite, which is the sparring between two karateka in which either half or full points are awarded for hits with the first to reach three points being declared the winner.
Yama Dojo made a solid entry in to this year’s AAU Nationals with all members of the team being awarded multiple medals within their divisions. In the Novice 15 to 16 year old division, Adam Manuel was awarded silver in both kobudo and kata. In Intermediate 15 to 16, Rory Springer won gold for his performance in kata along with silver with his fighting skills in kumite. Competing in the highly challenging 17-year old advanced division, William Butler won silver in kobudo and bronze in kata. Ashley Cole brought home gold in kata and silver in kobudo within her intermediate division. In her ladies’ advanced division, Trish Hook won the gold medal for kata as well as the silver in kobudo.
The regional competition was just beginning for Yama Dojo with the team traveling to Apex, North Carolina for the Super Regional Competition on April 29th followed by the AAU National Championship June 28th through July 1st. The team will be holding various fundraisers in hopes of earning the community’s much needed support for the cost of sending the talented team to compete. Anyone interested in learning more about the dojo is encouraged to visit Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm at Bethany Baptist Church located on Hwy 67W.