The Cayman Islands branch of the Purple Dragon School of Martial Arts has a lot to be proud of after they returned victorious from the US Open World Martial Arts Championships last week.
The local school took a team of 15 competitors to Orlando, Florida to compete against some of the top martial artists in the world.
The Cayman team, headed by Sensei Floyd Baptiste and Sensei Geddes Hislop, comprised of six adult competitors and nine juniors.
The US Open World Martial Arts Championships is one of the largest open martial arts tournaments in the world, boasting over 2,000 competitors from over 30 countries and almost every style of martial arts.
After two days of tough competition the team emerged victorious having won 17 major awards including seven first place world championships trophies; three second place; four third place and three fourth place trophies.
Little Corey Mellaneo, nine, is now the International Sport Karate Associations’ world champion in the 9-10 boys/girls Advanced Forms division.
Competing for the first time in an international tournament was Melissa Karasak who won two world championship titles in the women’s Advanced Division for Traditional Weapons and Traditional Forms.
Instructor Eculedies ‘Beco’ Pitta who operates a dojo (karate school) at the Triple C School won the world title in the men’s 40–49 Black Belt point fighting division.
This was a first time experience for Bobby Schoenberg, who is 16. Chaperoned by Baptiste and Hislop it was an eye-opening and inspiring experience for the young Caymanian.
‘I was really nervous at first- being from a little place like Cayman and having to go against all those competitors from places like Australia, South Africa, as well as America,’ Schoenberg said. ‘But I found out that they were regular people and I even made a couple new friends!
‘I also found out that we in Purple Dragon Cayman were more skilled and disciplined than many of the other schools at the tournament. I listened to my coach and trusted in my training, and then I wasn’t nervous any more.’
Bobby placed second in Boys Advanced Creative Forms, second in Point Fighting and third Continuous Fighting
Another young competitor on the international stage for the first time was, Alex Pascal, 15, who won in his division – Boys Advanced Continuous Sparring.
Pascal displayed a lot of confidence in his fight and was almost disqualified for being too aggressive, however with coaching form Purple Dragon’s head instructor Professor Don Jacob he was able to claim the victory.
Pascal did some extra training at the boxing gym with coach Donie Anglin who said: ‘Alex brought his trophy into the gym, he was so proud.
‘I helped him with all aspects of his technique, including kicking, punching and speed work. I also showed him how to relax more so that he wouldn’t get too tense.’
Baptiste teamed up with another Purple Dragon member from the Trinidad branch to clinch the title in Black Belt two-man team sparring, defeating teams from Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
The women’s Intermediate Sparring division was won by Susan Eden, who also had two of her sons competing as well.
One of her sons, Jared Stewart, won third place in the boys 11 and under Black Belt Creative forms division while his brother, Jerome Brown – who is only four – came second in his forms division.
Other Cayman team members: Hislop, Instructor Cindy Moore, 1st degree Black Belt Chynae Samuels, Zarek and Zephan Deosaran and Mario Dadal were all finalists in their respective divisions, winning between second place and sixth place awards gaining Cayman enormous respect internationally in martial arts circles.
‘At first our team was all wide eyed and nervous seeing so many competitors of such high standard, but then they quickly realised that they too could hold their own in this arena,’ said Sensei Geddes.
‘Considering the size of the Cayman Islands and how well we did taking such a small group to a tournament of that magnitude, earning so many top awards just proves once again how talented our Cayman athletes are not only in the sporting arena but in all areas that we have applied ourselves.
‘We must continue to be proud of our people and encourage our young athletes and people in general to really apply themselves and continue to surpass all expected standards.’
The team is already making preprations for the Don Jitsu Ryu World Karate Championships in Trinidad and Tobago in summer of 2010.
This event promises to be the biggest and most prestigious martial arts event in the Caribbean.
- Purple Dragon School of Martial Arts in located on the side of the Largatos Building on the West Bay Road upstairs to the LI night club. Tel: 345-946-2141 or [email protected]. They offer classes for both kids and adults and also have summer classes open to children from four upwards.