Submitted by: Chris Harris, Yon-dan
West Chester, PA – October 20, 2012. Several members of the Order of Isshinryu traveled to Master Carl Martin’s annual West Chester Classic to compete, assist with judging, and support one of the OI’s closest friends. This open tournament featured martial artists from various styles from several local states. While most attendees were of the Isshinryu background, there were also Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, and Shotokan practitioners. Groups from Delaware (Masters Reese & Judy Rigby), Detroit (Master Eugene Woods), Chicago (Master Steve Young), and Arizona (Master Dan Harrison) were there to support the event. The OI members in attendance were: Master Toby Cooling, Master Bud Ewing and his wife Ellen, Sensei Diane Ortenzio, Sensei Chris Harris, Mr. Bob Foard, and Mr. Michael Nolan.
Master Cooling, Master Ewing, Sensei Ortenzio and I were able to help out with judging for the tournament. Speaking as someone who has not had many experiences judging at an open tournament, this was a whole new ball game compared to our OI shiai. Along with traditional Isshinryu kata that, if they were performed slightly differently, you could still recognize there were some others you had never seen before, including a sword kata. Scoring was a little different as well. Where we are used to using whole or half numbers (6.0, 7.5) this tournament had score cards that went to the tenths (7.32).
Mr. Foard and Mr. Nolan represented the OI by competing in the tournament. They performed in both kata and kumite, and both men performed extremely well. Mr. Foard took second place in kumite. Mr. Nolan had an excellent day taking second in kumite, first in kata, and then went on to win the Grand Champion for kata in his division. I think both competitors will tell you they had a great time and learned quite a bit from this experience.
I must add that prior to the start of the tournament, Master Martin informed all of the black belts present of the miracle that we are all part of. He shared the story briefly of Master Cooling and Sensei Ortenzio’s surgery, and how we are all blessed with the results. Master Cooling is well known and an extremely respected individual in the martial arts world.
While this tournament obviously involved some punching and kicking, there was a lot more to it. Every year Master Martin selects a charity to donate the money that is collected. This year it was Pillow Cases for Kids. This charity goes into hospitals and creates pillow cases for sick children of things they love.
Hopefully next year we are able to get more people to come join in on the fun.