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Lahaina students win medals at karate tournament

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011

Maybel Benito won the Outstanding Female Competitor award at the karate tournament.

KAHULUI — The JKA (Japan Karate Association) Fall Tournament 2011 held on Sept. 11 at the Kahului School Cafeteria turned out to be an eventful day for the Lahaina Dojo contingent that participated in the event.

Hosted by the Maui Karate Association, the tournament brings together practitioners of all ages in a goodwill competition in the traditional Shotokan form of the martial art of Karate-Do.

Participants included members from the host MKA club, as well as competitors from the main Oahu JKA organization and the Lahaina Dojo of JKS (Japan Karate Shotokai) Hawaii.

After opening remarks from emcee Kit Zulueta and JKA Hawaii Chief Instructor Hiro Maeda, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa delivered the Oath of Sportsmanship from the Parks and Recreation Department’s code of conduct and added, “I would ask that all competitors here today try to remember that it is not winning or losing that matters, but how important it is to learn from this experience and carry that forward as a positive effect on your lives in the future.”

The competition then began with the individual kata (forms) portion in beginners age six on up to adult black belts. Judges included Maeda Sensei; Ted Kesaji, Ricky Supnet, Deron Furukawa and Stephanie Nabor of MKA; and Walter Chihara of Lahaina JKS.

Forms were followed by a synchronized kata event with teams from all three schools competing.

After a lunch break, the kumite (sparring) events began with the beginners doing basic, prearranged fighting and advanced ranks competing in freestyle bouts. Like the kata events, the kumite brought competitors of all ages into the center ring set up in the school cafeteria.

Awards were presented following each event, with custom-made medals engraved with the JKA symbol going to the top three finishers, and certificates to all competitors.

For the Lahaina club, 13-year-old Maybel Benito — a Lahaina Intermediate School eighth-grader — led the way with first place performances in both the intermediate level kata and kumite events. She was later a unanimous choice of the judges as the Outstanding Female Competitor of the tournament and was presented a three-foot trophy at the end of the day in recognition of the honor.

During the judges’ discussion to select the winner of this award, Kesaji Sensei from the MKA club commented, “That girl (Benito) is really strong in her karate basics — she has a great future in the martial arts.”

Other medal winners from the Lahaina Dojo included Andrea Alvarado Cruz, Rocio Cano Cruz, Odalys Rodriguez, Yuna Lee, Koa Arnold, Noah Arnold, Daniel Rodriguez, Gabriel Rodriguez, Mike Rodriguez and Adrian Benito in the beginner youth divisions; as well as Peyten Marten, Addison Marten, Kayla Gonzalves, Chase Marten, Ken Lee, Blaine Casil and Michael Doan in the youth intermediate and advanced events.

Adult winners from the West Side contingent were Nadia Cruz and Rossy Rodriguez in the beginner events, and Chayne Marten in the brown and black belt competitions.

Lahaina instructors Glen Delatori and Roman Czerwinski were on hand the entire day as coaches for the participants along with a large group of family and friends in support of them.

“All in all, I think the tournament turned out well and everybody had a fun day,” commented Tournament Director Furukawa Sensei of MKA.

“We are very thankful to all of the families that helped with the preparations, donations and positive support from them. And thank you to all of the judges for their effort throughout the day in presenting this tournament in the traditional format,” he concluded.