Sidekick Karate School students did well in the United Shotokan Championship in Durham at Riverside High School this past Saturday.
Briana Coad-France, who is 14, placed first in Kumete (sparring) in her group and second in Kata (form). Eight-year-old teammate Ashlee Coad-France was second in sparring and third in form. Ryan Swanson, 8, and Colton Marion, 7, finished third in kata in their groups. Eight-year-old William Danley placed third in sparring. Pilar Cortes, a 5-year-old, finished second in sparring and third in kata. Andrew Jeremiah, a 16-year-old, captured top honors in his group with first place in kata and sparring.
“ Matthew Collins also participated in the tournament,” said Sidekick Karate School Sensei Emad Aly. “He did well at his first time competiting.” The students will next advance to the Amateur Athletic Union state championship event in Raleigh on March 17.
Sidekick students previously brought home a variety of medals from the State Amateur Athletics Union, North Carolina District Championship in Durham. The group finished third in that competition last March.
The youngsters again competed in kata and sparring divisions, bringing back to Mount Airy a total of 32 gold, 27 silver and 17 bronze medals. Kata competition is where students are judged on how well they execute the forms or movements required by the martial art. Aly said about 75 percent of the dojo’s students competed in that state tournament and their performances qualified them to participate in regional competition.
Students who earned medals in this event were Ashton Rierson, Leah Wolfe, Anna Wolfe, Tasla Wolfe, Andy Majure, Jacob Majure, Autumn Eldridge, Brianna Coad, Pilar Cortes, Kolby Watson, Cesar Ramirez, Leslie Ramirez, Ricky Banten, McKaden Murray, Alex Hege, Jacob Martin, William Dalley, Ashlee Coed and Ray Dempsey. Each of these participants earned from three to four medals apiece.
“Discipline is really stressed in our school,” explained Aly. He also said the school emphasizes helping, be it listening to parents or washing the dishes. Shotokan Karate is the form taught by Aly, who is a fifth-degree black belt, world champion and a gold medalist himself. He further explained that the discipline of learning Shotokan has many benefits, such as anger control, self-esteem, fitness, stress relief, confidence and respect.
Aly feels that Shotokan can change lives when students believe in themselves. He talked about the need for students to sweat and endure challenging practices. He explained that wins are a natural product of hard work. Aly said the study of karate can be helpful in turning around children who have had poor or disrespectful behavior and struggled with poor grades because it helps them better focus mentally.
Aly further explained that in the school, each child is expected to take responsibility for their learning, not only of the fighting skills taught, but of character traits instilled in them by the practice of Shotokan. In practices, Aly clearly enjoys facilitating the children’s journey to better citizenship and being responsible for their own behavior. He feels that the benefits of this sport will last a lifetime for its practitioners.
The school opened in Mount Airy in 2009. Aly said that additional information on the program can be found under the Sidekick Karate School on Facebook. If his students qualify in the upcoming regionals, they will advance to super regional competition. Students from schools in more than 10 states will be competing in this event.
The students will perform a karate demonstration at the Creekside Cinemas in Mount Airy on Saturday at 6 p.m.