BY RAY VAN COR
The Greenville Standard
The touted tournament, the 22nd Annual South Alabama Karate Open is due to kickoff at 10 a.m. June 11 at Straughn High School in Andalusia.
This tournament is one of the most acclaimed events for martial arts competitions in the south east, and from all accounts from participating competitors one of the most enjoyable and fair martial arts competitions in the United States to date.
One could attribute this tournament’s success due to its founder and Director, 7th Dan Isshinryu instructor Sensei Mark Rudd.
Rudd founded his Andalusia Isshinryu Karate Dojo in 1995 and began hosting the tournament in 1999 and every year since there has been a constant growth with last years as the largest yet.
Competitors numbering over 300 and representing eight different states were in attendance at last year’s tournament despite the resurgence of COVID.
Rudd was inducted into the Isshinryu Karate Hall of Fame in 2018 which is located in Knoxville, Tenn.
Sensei Rudd has trained world, national and regional champions with 55 black belts students passing through his doors.
Mark Rudd himself spent 30 years as an active tournament competitor.
He and his family attend Southside Baptist Church in Andalusia and he admits his goal is not only to teach the martial arts skills of Isshinryu but life skills that will help his students in whatever they choose to do.
It is obvious why the South Alabama Karate Open tournament is such a success and continues to grow.
Local students Jennifer and Rhys Stanford from the Sekkin Sen Karate Dojo in Georgiana will be competing in this year’s event.
Evergreen native Jennifer Stanford is the attending pharmacist for the Evergreen Hospital and this will be her first outing in competition.
Also from Evergreen, Rhys Stanford has taken a second place in weapons with his last outing at the Sunshine Classic held in Panama City, Fla.
We at the Greenville Standard wish all the competitors the very best.