Local martial artists kick up a storm in Florida
Ningen Martial Arts Academy swept almost everything before them at the US Martial Arts Open last week, capturing 33 medals and trophies including eight gold, seven silver and 18 bronze.
The 16-member team returned home Tuesday from Orlando and chief instructor, Shilan Keith Edwards, was more than pleased with their marked improvement from last year where they won 17 medals, inclusive of five gold.
"It was a tremendous achievement," Edwards told the Jamaica Observer. "We got a lot of congratulatory messages from our competitors and the judges were really taken up with our team."
"We had a fairly young team this year and they all performed excellently. This competition was demanding for the youngsters and they did step up after a slow first day," said Edwards.
The Ningen Academy was one of four Jamaican teams which in total walked away with 83 medals in a dominant performance.
"I don't think that they were surprised because they put in the work for it. We are pleased but not surprised. We have been preparing for this competition from January," noted Edwards.
"This was a gift for Jamaica from Ningen Martial Arts Academy and for the first time ever in martial arts, we were met by the minister of sports at the airport and we had no difficulty at all coming through customs," said Edwards.
One of Shihan Edwards' outstanding moments was to see Jamaica's nine year olds black belts Sekai Smart-Macaulay, Matthew Miles and Tyrique Tai-lor of First Zendo Academy, dominating their division over the more experienced IAKA youngsters, who have worldwide ranking.
"It all started with the Continuous Sparring Division where Tyrique Tai-lor of First Zendo took first place, Matthew Miles of Ningen took second and Sekia Smart-Macaulay, also of Ningen took third," Edwards pointed out.
"The division went even better in the traditional form where Sekai took first place, Tyrique took second place and Matthew took third place. The icing was on the cake was when Sekai Smart-Macaulay, the smallest in the group of sixteen competitors, took the Points Sparring section with gold over Matthew Miles in the dying seconds of the match," he added.
Members of the Ningen Martial Arts Academy pose with their trophies and medals won at the US Open Martial Arts Championship in Orlando last week.