BY RAY VAN COR
The Greenville Standard
Kicking the COVID blues was what the 21st South Alabama Karate Open did this past weekend. The touted and prestigious tournament was postponed last year due to the COVID pandemic and is one of the first tournaments heldthis year.
Stating that it was an absolutely incredible would be would be a severe understatement.
The event was held at Straughn High School’s gymnasium and it was packed to the rafters with over 170 competitors plus spectators and visitors from all over the southeast.
Guests were respectfully asked to try to make room to accommodate additional spectators not once, but twice. No less than seven states were represented with competitors from as far away as Louisiana and Kentucky.
The event started with the tournament director’s nine-year-old son, Johnathan Rudd, singing the National Anthem. It was followed by a standing ovation.
The atmosphere was electric. Tournament Director Mark Rudd said, “We had the largest turnout in the 21 years. Over and over today, we heard about how excited everyone was about getting to compete after about a year and half of not having tournaments.
“There was an extraordinary atmosphere and very strong competition but the best part of the tourney was the excellent attitudes and sportsmanship displayed by everyone. It was a tribute to what the martial arts teach.”
Local Isshinryu dojo of Andalusia did more than fair with Grand Champions in the Youth Blackbelt Taj Patel of Opp.
Adult Kata Grand Champion was Allen Butler, also of Andalusia’s Isshinryu, and Woman’s Fighting Grand Champion was Camile Holley of Bryan College via Andalusia’s Isshinryu Dojo.
Finally Men’s Fighting winner was Tony Williams of Lebanon,Tennessee.