On the weekend of April 23-25, the southeastern region of the Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation had its annual championships and spring cycle black belt test. The event was hosted by Mr. Randall Leverett of Amory, Mississippi, who was also among those testing for Sam Dan on Friday, April 23. Both the test and the tournament took place at the Hope Church in Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Friday’s written test began at 5:00 pm. Everyone passed the written test this cycle. Chris Chisum of Karate World of North Georgia and Jeffery Harris of Karate Central tied with a perfect score, and Caroline Wigmore of Karate World of North Georgia got the high score among the children with a 98. The physical portion of the test started at six sharp. Approximately fifty students participated. The testing panel, aside from Grandmaster St. James, included seven masters: Master Carole Coker, Master Stacy Busby, Master Deborah Jett, Master Greg Sibley, Master Heather Potter, Master Michael Jett, and Master Luis Parra-Flores. All of the students testing performed admirably. Two students were at one point called upon to give a spirited demonstration of proper self-defense technique. Best of test was awarded to Max Weisskopf of Birmingham Academy of Martial Arts among the youth students and Julian Chatham-Tombs from Tennessee Tang Soo Do Studio for the adults.
The tournament took place on Saturday, April 24. The black belt competitors arrived early to assist with set-up, attend a judges’ meeting, and finish their competition before the color belts arrived. The black belt competition was fierce. The opening ceremonies began at 11:30. Black belt certifications were presented, as well as the men and women’s regional cups. The cup winners were Hannah Barnett from Two Dragons Martial Arts, and Hiram Hodge from Tennessee Tang Soo Do Studio. Demonstrations were given by the host school, Two Dragons Martial Arts of Amory, Mississippi, owned by Mr. Randall Leverett, and Karate Central of Selma, Alabama, which is owned by Master Greg Sibley. After the demos, the opening ceremonies were interrupted by news of a tornado watch. Students and spectators were asked to evacuate into two hallways on either side of the training floor. Thanks to the responsibility of the masters, the host school, and other assistants, the situation was handled in a calm and orderly fashion, and the tornado passed us by within a few minutes with nothing more than a few frayed nerves. After a group picture, the rest of the competition proceeded as planned. All of the competitors conducted themselves well and demonstrated true Tang Soo Do spirit, and the tournament was a huge success.
The next day, two advanced workouts were offered by Grandmaster St. James. The first was for instructors and school owners. The second class was for masters. It has become a tradition in the Federation that all events begin and end with training.
Submitted by by Ms. Shanon Jett - Sam Dan