Wanting to save his students the time and hassle of traveling great distances to compete in a major martial arts tournament, Martial Arts America President Eric Hensley decided to start one in Evans.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, his tournament, the inaugural Shamrock Karate Spectacular at the Evans High School gymnasium, will become a reality.
"The reason I chose to put it on was to give my team members a good venue (in which they could compete) where they would not have to travel a long way," Hensley said.
More than 300 martial arts students from throughout the Southeast are scheduled to compete in more than 100 divisions covering ages 6 and up and all skill levels.
Competitions will include judging of precision martial arts moves and forms in addition to fights between students that are won under a points system, Hensley said. There will be judged presentations of both traditional and creative or more modern styles of martial arts along with weapons demonstrations.
"Traditional divisions are performed the way the martial arts were performed 500 or 1,000 years ago," Hensley said. "In the tradition of the martial arts, they perform in the white uniforms and in the styles of the old days."
The modern exhibition will demonstrate skill popularized in recent martial arts films, Hensley said.
"You will see these kids doing these gymnastics moves, doing flips and kicks and blocks and strikes," he said.
Awards will be given to the top eight competitors in each division.
"The whole concept of the competition is not to focus on whether you win or lose, but ... it's to be able to learn a lot about yourself," Hensley said. "It's a process to see how you perform under pressure."
Tickets cost $8 and will be available at the door.
Children's martial arts exhibits start at 9 a.m., and main adult and youth events start at 10:15 a.m.
Competitions such as the Shamrock Karate Spectacular are how rising stars in martial arts are found, the business's president said.
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