Belen High School was filled with martial artists who gathered for the Ninth Annual Hub City Karate Tournament last Saturday. Nearly 150 competitors from Belen, Los Lunas, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona and California all came out to compete at the tournament hosted by Belen Goju Ryu Karate School.
Competitors of all levels of skill and experience showed off their stuff in kumite, koshiki (armored fighting), weapons displays, musical form and, for the first time at the Hub City Tourney, chanbara, a simulated sword fighting with foam weapons.
The tournament added the chanbara to the list this year because it is the only realistic form of sword training they can do without anyone getting hurt, according to Belen Goju Ryu instructor Richard Long.
“It is a realistic sword training, but it is also fun for the kids,” he said. “The kids are just out there whacking each other with these foam sticks. They just love it.”
Belen Goju Ryu traditionally hosts two tournaments each year — the Hub City Open and the United States Karate Alliance New Mexico State Championships in November.
“For the summer tournament, it was about an average turnout,” Long said. “The most important thing is that everyone had fun.”
Long said 45 Belen Goju Ryu students competed in the tournament. The school had 30 competitors finish first in their repective divisons. It had 20 second-, 20 third-, and 20 fourth-place finishers.
“We did extremely well this weekend,” Long said. “I know for sure that there were kids who got trophies in more than one thing.”
Belen’s Goju Ryu swept five of the 98 divisions, including the 6- and 7-year-old intermediate hard style kata, girls intermediate kumite and advance yellow belt kumite. They swept through the beginning intermediate hard kata in the 8- and 9-year-old division and the 12- and 13-year-old girls beginning kumite.