June 28-July 1, 2017 – Kurokawa Karate, known locally as “Yama Dojo”, recently participated in the 2017 AAU Karate National Championships. This event was held at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC. Close to 2000 athletes and coaches were in attendance to show their skills in kata (forms), kobudo (weapons) and kumite (sparring).
AAU, Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, has held tournaments for various sports ending in National Competitions since 1988. In 2015, some of our local karate students went to witness the AAU National Championship in Raleigh. Nationals alternate yearly between Raleigh and Fort Lauderdale, FLA. www.aaukarate.org.
Upon arrival, registration was acquired. AAU had a special project for those teams showing up early. They set a goal to fill 1000 bags with toiletries and encouragement for the area’s homeless. Yama Dojo was empowered by the support and generosity of our community through the whole tournament season. With grateful hearts, we wrote out cards, packed bags and prayed that others would feel loved. It was an honor to do our part.
The Opening Ceremony began as the sun rose the next morning with a beautiful Taiko-drum performance. All the teams filed in with their banners and team colors, filling the twelve mats in the arena. The Karate Masters, who made karate in the United States possible, sat with honor in front. Guest speakers such as NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Raleigh’s Chamber of Commerce President addressed the competitors and supporters. Fumio Demura, world renowned as the “Real Mr. Miyagi” and karate advisor/stunt man in the original “Karate Kid” movies, was also in attendance. (Our students got to meet him and received his autograph.)
Our very own Grandmaster Souke Tim Brooks and his wife, Lady Teruko Kurokawa Brooks, were among those at the Master’s Table. They had three dojos competing in the Nationals; ours and two from Fort Myers, FLA. They were pivotal in how karate grew in America. Souke Brooks learned karate as a teenager in Japan where his family were missionaries. He came to America with his wife and children as a young man to teach karate. They continue to touch lives fifty years later.
The Tournament went on for three days. Yama Dojo competed each day. George Kotaka, four-time world champion in karate, brought twenty competitors from Hawaii. Competition was stiff; but we held our own across the board. For example, in a fierce division of 18 competitors, William Butler beat out some in kata. When it was all over, Kurokawa Karate Yama Dojo brought home one silver and three bronze.
Trisha Hook received a bronze in kobudo-short weapon with her kama (short handled sickle).
Ashley Cole brought home our silver in kobudo with the bo (staff).
Rory Springer held a bronze in kobudo with his bo and another in kumite (sparring).
It was a very rewarding tournament season. We would like to thank all of our family, friends and Johnson County for the support, donations and encouragement we have received. We are grateful to Bethany Baptist for a place to train and Red Tail for continuing to provide a beautiful setting for our Black Belt banquets. Mountain City made a mark in the national karate world. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Kurokawa Karate holds its classes at Bethany Baptist church in Doe, Mondays and Thursdays. Beginners’ Class is at 5:30 pm. Advanced at 6:30 pm. Classes are free. You may call Sensei Rebekah “Hotaru” Darocha: 423-440-2972 or Sensei Chris “Monjin” Hook: 423-291-1747 for more details.