AKF Cartersville with Greatmats Cheerleading Mats for Martial Arts

AKF Family Martial Arts of Cartersville – Carpet Topped Mats

Instructor Donny Thompson Likes Feel and Functionality of Greatmats

 

By Brett Hart

AKF Grandmaster Kim and AKF Cartersville Donny Thompson Kyuki Do GreatmatsHaving trained in martial arts since 1983, AKF Family Martial Arts of Cartersville owner Donny Thompson has learned to appreciate the gentler side of the his sport.

A 4th Dan in Taekwondo, Thompson, beginning at the age of 12, regularly competed and admitted he wasn’t the nicest of competitors. So, after taking a break from martial arts when he started his family, he began looking for a place for his son to train that utilized a much friendlier approach.

He found that with Master Merrill Sinclair of Sinclair’s Kyuki-Do Martial Arts in Dallas, Georgia.

”It was non competition, which I loved,” Thompson said. ”I didn’t want my son to have to go through all of that.”

Although his son didn’t take to it as much as he’d hoped, Thompson’s love for the martial arts was reborn, and he has worked his way up to his 3rd Dan in Kyuki-Do, which he achieved in April of this year. Shortly thereafter, he opened his own school in Cartersville, Georgia.

Equipping Academy with Cheerleading Mats

AKF Cartersville with Greatmats Cheerleading Mats for Martial ArtsUnder the recommendation of the American Kyuki-Do Federation, which uses Greatmats martial arts mats in several of its schools, Thompson chose to equip his new academy with Greatmats 2 inch thick carpet-topped cheerleading mats.

Why cheerleading mats, you ask?

”I like the feel, personally, of the mat itself under your feet,” Thompson said. ”I was used to carpet on concrete, honestly, so it had that nice firm feeling, but when you hit the ground it’s not like hitting the concrete. … They’re thick enough to be cushiony, but they’re firm enough that you can do your techniques without sinking into the mat.”

”They’re very easy to clean,” he added. ”All you need is a vacuum, and they hold up very well. As long as you take care of them properly, they don’t have a problem lasting for years. Some of the vinyl tops, you have to worry about holes getting poked in them, and in the mornings, when it’s cold, they’re cold. These don’t have that problem.”

AKF Cartersville with Greatmats Carpet Topped Roll out Mats for Martial ArtsThese particular mats come in 42 foot rolls. So after cutting them to fit his space, Mr. Thompson had enough leftover to wrap them around the poles in his academy and use them as pole pads.

”They work totally awesome for that,” he said. ”I use the straps that came with the original ones, and it worked. I was very pleased. They’re thicker than a regular pole pad and so people can hit them harder.”

Family Oriented Environment

Greatmats Cheer Mat installation at AKF Cartersville Martial ArtsHaving found success back in the day competing with the United States Taekwondo Union, he’s now chosen a different path.

”We are family oriented,” he said, noting that he doesn’t what the message of his academy to being ”Look what I did” as much as ”Look what I can do for you.”

”It’s a whole different mindset (than competing),” he added.

That family-oriented mindset fits in perfectly with the AKF, which recently presented Thompson with his 3rd Dan Certificate at its annual Black Belt Extravaganza in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

”I go every year,” Thompson said about the Black Belt Extravaganza. ”It is immensely fun. … I come from a side of martial arts where… you rarely saw anybody from other schools unless you go to a tournament or a big test that everyone had to get together for. But for the most part, you did your own thing as far as schools went. The AKF is totally different. … Everybody’s there supporting each other. I go, not just for the seminars, but to see the people of the AKF – my martial arts family. We call ourselves the Kyuki-Do Nation, but we’re really the Kyuki-Do Family.”

Donny Thompson
AKF Family Martial Arts of Cartersville
Cartersville GA 30121
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

2017 AKF Summer Tournament of Champions Recap

Vazquez youngest ever Grand Champion, Madrigal wins 4th Championship

Angelina Vazquez 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do GreatmatsThe 2017 American Kyuki-Do Federation Tournament of Champions was held on August 12 at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The tournament had over 120 competitors from Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Georgia. Martial artists Angelina Vazquez and Reginald Madrigal emerged as the Black Belt Grand Champions.

Vazquez, of Geneva, Illinois, won the Under 18 Grand Championship and is the youngest black belt to achieve this honor. She trains under Mr. Chris Koffenberger.

Reginald Madrigal competing 2017 AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsThe 18 and Over Grand Championship was claimed by Madrigal, of Elgin, Illinois, for the fourth time. He trains under Masters Jeff Kim and Rick Steainmaier.

Joe Moniot, of Lexington, Kentucky, brought 17 students with him to his final tournament before earning his Master distinction. Ms. Emily Brown of Oconee, Geroge, traveled the farthest to compete.

Ellie Murphy, from Lexington, was the winner of VIP pass to AKF’s annual Black Belt Extravaganza at Wisconsin Dells held November 3-5.

Nicole Holden, of Janesville, Wisconsin, and Chester Gustavson, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, competed in their final tournament before advancing to 5th Dan (Master).

Joe Moniot 2017 AKF Summer Tournament Greatmats

The next American Kyuki-Do Federation tournament is the Grappling and Throwing Tournament at Bigfoot High School in Walworth, Wisconsin.

Federation members can register to compete at http://www.kyukidomartialarts.com.

Learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Kyuki-Do Federation events and athletes.

Chester Gustavson 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do Greatmatssparring at 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do Greatmats

2017 Summer Tournament of Champions
American Kyuki-Do Federation
Eau Claire WI 54701
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Drew McCurdy 4-Time AKF Grand Champion

Four Time Grand Champion Still Fond of ‘Firsts’

By Brett Hart

Drew McCurdy Amercian Kyuki-Do Federation Grand Champion GreatmatsBecoming a black belt has been a lifelong dream for Drew McCurdy, and in May of 2001, he began that journey when he walked in the doors of Kim’s Black Belt Academy in Elgin, Illinois.

”I thought a place with black belt in their name was a good place to start,” McCurdy said.

Now a third-degree black belt in Kyuki-Do, McCurdy has expanded his martial arts repertoire to include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do and Kali techniques.

With years of training and a multitude of disciplines under his belt, McCurdy’s list of instructors is equally as long, including the likes of Rick Steinmaier, Jeff Kim, Rick Bjorquist, Christine Bjorquist, Chris Koffenberger, Lloyd Holden, John Canton, Reggie Madrigal and Yolanda Morales, among others.

McCurdy has been putting his training to good use at American Kyuki-Do Federation tournaments where he recently claimed his fourth Grand Champion title at the 2017 Spring Tournament of Champions.

”It’s an honor every time,” McCurdy said. ”I compete for my academy and the kids around Kyuki-do.”

Drew McCurdy Board Breaking Amercian Kyuki-Do Federation GreatmatsMcCurdy won both his sparring and breaking divisions while claiming second in forms and weapons, leaving it as no surprise that sparring and breaking are his favorite events.

”Sparring really tests some of the actual applications and techniques,” McCurdy said. ”There’s no substitute for knowing a mistake could cost you a shot to the head. Breaking really tests your physical and mental limitations as well, especially now that it’s at the end (of the tournament). Do you still have what it takes to break these boards after two hours of vigorous activity?”

The Area Director at Apex Fun Run For elementary schools in Illinois and Wisconsin, McCurdy currently does his martial arts training at Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin (formerly Kim’s Black Belt Academy) and Fusion Fitness MMA in Elgin.

With all he’s accomplished in the sport, McCurdy is still most proud of achieving his Kyuki-Do black belt.

”Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of work I put into it,” McCurdy said.

2016 AKF Spring Tournament kyuki-do Grand Champions GreatmatsIn similar respect, he views winning his first grand championship as one of his biggest achievements.

”It took quite a few tournaments before I achieved one,” he said. ”I almost thought it wouldn’t happen.”

Great competition from colleagues such as Nikki Holden, Reggie Madrigal and Joe Moniot help keep McCurdy motivated to continue competing.

”It’s about growth,” he said. ”There’s no animosity before or after.”

His passion for martial arts has also rubbed off on his family. His wife is now a brown stripe and his oldest child, Devin, is a 5-year-old red belt in Pre-Kyuki-Do.

”My two-year-old doesn’t currently train, but in her mind, she is a 12th Dan Master!” he added. ”Kyukido family is real – not just a saying. If I want to go hard and train hard with adults, I can do that. If I want to my kids to learn discipline self defense and a host of other qualities, I can give them that. If I want to train as a family, I can do that. There are a lot of places where you can only get one of those things.”

”I’d like to thank Greatmats for their continued sponsorship of the tournaments,” he said. ”The word is still out on Eau Claire (Summer Tournament of Champions) for me, but I will see if I can make it to Nikki Holden’s last tournament before master. Plus the competition in Eau Claire is always awesome!”

Learn more about the American Kyuki-Do Federation events and athletes.

Drew McCurdy
Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin
Elgin IL
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Leading By Example with Zachary Hansen: Kyuki-Do Instructor

Kyuki-Do Instructor Competes in Throwing and Grappling Tournament

By Brett Hart

Martial Arts haven’t always been on American Kyuki-Do Federation (AKF) 2nd Dan Zachary Hansen’s radar. A former fiber optic communications professional, Mr. Hansen was introduced to Kyuki-Do seven years ago when his then 4-year old daughter, Olivia, won a free two-week trial at a 4K family fun night.

”She was having fun, and we weren’t in any other activities at the point, so we decided to enroll her. She excelled at it and enjoyed it,” Mr. Hansen said, ”I watched her for a year and said ‘That looks like way too much fun.”

Joining the fun
Zachary Hansen kyuki-do competition AKF GreatmatsAround that time Master Greg Garves cornered Mr. Hansen and encouraged him to enroll as well.

”I kind of blew him off and gave him the, ‘Check back in two weeks.”’ Mr. Hansen said. ”He held me accountable… and here I am seven years later. … It’s never something I envisioned myself doing, but I am thankful for it, and it’s been something my entire family has been able to do together.”

In fact Mr. Hansen, his wife, Bev, and daughter, Olivia, all promoted to their first degree black belt together. Mr. Hansen is now the owner and chief instructor of two academies – in New Richmond and River Falls, Wisconsin.

Competitive Spirit
Zachary Hansen grappling kyuki-do tournament AKF GreatmatsRecently the AKF, which blends multiple disciplines of martial arts into one, held its second ever throwing and grappling-centered tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Mr. Hansen decided to participate in both the judo and jiu jitsu brackets, earning first place in jiu jitsu and second place in judo.

”You want to put yourself out there,” Mr. Hansen said. ”I’m an instructor and an owner. I’ve got to be willing to put myself out there if I’m going to ask my students to do the same. Plus, being 38, I’m not exactly young, but I’m not old. (It’s one way to be) a good role model for my little bit older students, parents and other adults. You don’t have to be this ripped 20 year old to go out there and compete and have fun. It’s about the camaraderie and just the experience and learning about yourself.”

As someone who’s participated in folk style wrestling since second grade, it may seem this style of competition would be a natural fit for him, but Mr. Hansen said judo and jiu jitsu is a ”whole other can of worms.”

He enjoyed the change of pace from the traditional Kyuki-Do Tournaments, which focus mainly on forms, sparring and weapons.

”The grappling tournament is definitely more of a physical challenge, compared to the more mental challenge of our other style tournaments,” he said. ”Yes there’s sparring, but when you start getting into judo, jiu jitsu – the grappling stuff, there’s definitely a whole other level of physical involved. There’s strength and conditioning, especially the cardio workout. It’s a whole other level.”

As for the judo portion, he recognizes that he’s got a lot of work to do on this throws, but was happy to last a long as he did against an opponent he’s lost to a couple of times before.

”He’s definitely a good judo player,” Mr. Hansen said. ”He’s definitely got skill and knowledge. I survived longer than I thought I would. It goes to show, don’t cut yourself short against somebody else or based strictly on size because cardio comes into play and technique too. It’s not always strength and size.”

Ripple effect
Zachary Hansen kyuki-do tournament AKF GreatmatsFollowing his example, 15 of his students also took part in the tournament and enjoyed the experience.

”I had a young man who took last in both events, but as I was watching him, he was smiling and had a great time,” Mr. Hansen said. ”He was just there to have fun. Whether he won or lost, it didn’t affect his spirit. He had a great time, and he was excited that I was able to watch him compete. That meant a lot for him to say that, coming from a student.”

”(AKF federation events) paint a bigger picture of what Kyuki-Do is about outside of our academy and our local area and meet more of our extended Kyuki-Do family,” he added. ”I don’t use that word family lightly. It truly is an extended family. The camaraderie and the friendships that I’ve made are priceless, and they’re going to be here for a long time. It’s fun to walk into an event and know that your kids are in a safe environment, and they can just run about and know that someone’s going to be holding them accountable besides you. … To have that feeling and be in an environment like that is unbelievable and it’s almost unheard of. It’s one of my biggest reasons to promote the federation events.”

”For me its just the personal health benefits from being physical and training and just fun.”

While competition isn’t his primary focus, Mr. Hansen said, ”I’ve got that competitive bone in my body, so it’s a way for me to feed that competitiveness. I loved the tournaments and wrestling in high school, and this is a way to still kind of fulfill that childhood need.”

Learn more about American Kyuki-Do Federation Events and Athletes.

Zachary Hansen
AKF Martial Arts Academy
New Richmond WI 54017
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AKF Spring Tournament of Champions: McCurdy, Kahl are Grand Champions

Elgin, Lexington Academies Well Represented at Spring Tournament

AKF Spring Tournament Drew McCurdy GreatmatsBy Brett Hart

 

Drew McCurdy, a third dan in Kyuki-Do from Elgin, Illinois, claimed his fourth AKF Grand Champion title for 18 and over competitors at the 2017 American Kyuki-Do Federation Spring Tournament of Champions in Huntley, Illinois on May 6. Meanwhile Logan Kahl, also a third dan, of Janesville, Wisconsin, claimed the 17 and Under Grand Champion honor.

”To qualify for Grand Champion, each competitor must participate in forms, weapons, breaking and sparring,” according to Master Rick Steinmaier. ”At the end of the black belt competition, the competitor with the most points is named grand champion.”

AKF Spring 2017 Logan Kahl GreatmatsCompetitors have the chance to earn points via 1st through 4th-place finishes in each activity, with first place finishes earning four points each.

Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin led the field as the school with the most competitors, making up 70 of the 260 total martial artists from 12 schools. AKF Lexington (Kentucky) Martial Arts also made an impact with 40 participants.

Mr. Lain Pontious of Huntley, Ill., was the winner of a free pass to this year’s Kyuki-Do Camp which runs July 7-9.

The 2017 AKF Summer Tournament of champions will take place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on Aug. 12. Due to the AKF’s new dedicated Grappling and Throwing Tournaments, the grappling portion of the Summer Tournament of Champions will be open to novice only.

 

AKF Spring Tournament 2017 kyukido GreatmatsAKF Spring Tournament breaking board Greatmatsyouth board breaking AKF Spring Tournament Greatmats

2017 Spring Tournament of Champions
American Kyuki-Do Federation
Huntley IL
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AKF Grappling and Throwing Tournament

Kyuki-Do Students Test Skills in Judo and Jiu Jitsu

AKF 2017 Grappling and Throwing Tournament Video
At the Metropolis Resort and Convention Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on March 4, there was standing room only at American Kyuki-Do Federation’s second-ever grappling and throwing tournament.AKF grappling and throwing champions Greatmats
At the Winter Grappling and Tournament, there were 74 regional competitors with 40 percent of them competing in grappling for their first time. Competitors came from as far away as Huntley, Illinois.youth grappling AKF kyuki-do Greatmats

The AKF Martial Arts Academy of Eau Claire produced 21 competitors, followed by New Richmond (Wisconsin) with 13 and Janesville (Wisconsin) with 10.
AKF grappling champions Greatmats
Divisions were split by age, size and experience levels. Competitors had the options of competing in judo, jiu jitsu, or hybrid version of the two.

About half of the competitors tested their skills in both judo and jiu jitsu.

AKF adult grappling action Greatmats

Tammy Turcotte, Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Amery’s chief instructor, said, ”My favorite part of the tournaments is seeing the camaraderie between students from different academies, parents getting to know each other, and the joy of competition.”

youth competing at AKF tournament 2017Learn more about American Kyuki-Do Federation Events.

2017 AKF Leadership Summit

AKF kyuki-do leaders summit Greatmats 2017

The American Kyuki-Do Federation held its annual Leadership Summit on February 24-26 in Elgin, Illinois.

”Our annual summit is an opportunity to share ideas, find out what the state of the art is for our industry, reconnect with other school owners and meet the next crop of instructors and owners,” said, Master Rick Steinmaier, AKF Events Coordinator.

Master Steinmaier was pleased to see the event attended by representatives from AKF’s five newest affiliates – four of which opened within the last year and one is projected to open this year.

The new affiliates include Arlington Heights (Illinois), Burleson (Texas), Elgin East (Illinois), Granbury (Texas) and Sleepy Hollow (Illinois).

American Kyuki-Do Federation Logo AKF Greatmats

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2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Black Belt Extravaganza

AKF Black Belt Extravaganza 2016
kyuki-do extravaganza AKF 2016 GreatmatsOver 130 martial artists promoted to their first degree black belt or higher at the 2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Black Belt Extravaganza. The extravaganza was held on November 5 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Watch this video as these black belt candidates show the skills they’ve learned on their path to obtaining a black belt – during the testing portion.

Of special note: AKF Founder GrandMaster Ok Hyung Kim oversaw the proceeding along with his brother Grand Master Yun Hyung Kim and son Master Jeff Kim while his grandson Nathan Kim tested for his 1st Dan.

Highlighting the festivities were the advancements of:

  • Master Rick Bjorkquist (to 6th Dan)
  • Master Rick Steinmaier (to 6th Dan)
  • Master Merrill Sinclair (to 5th Dan)

black belt showcase AKF Extravaganza Greatmats2016 black belt graduates represented 18 Academies from across the United States. Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin, Illinois, was the academy with the most black belt graduates with 30, followed by AKF Martial Arts of Janesville, Wisconsin, with 18 graduates and Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Geneva, Illinois, with 12 graduates. In addition to Illinois and Wisconsin, graduates also hailed from the states of Georgia and Florida.

 

 

 

American Kyuki-Do Federation Black Belt Extravaganza AKF Greatmats

 

GrandMaster Ok Hyung Kim American Kyuki-Do Federation AKF Greatmats

competition at AKF Black Belt Extravaganza Greatmats

American Kyuki-Do Federation

 

 

AKF First-Of-Its-Kind Grappling and Throwing Tournament

Kyuki-Do National Grappling and Throwing Championship

The American Kyuki-Do Federation wrapped up its Greatmats-sponsored 2016 tournament season on October 1 with a first-of-its-kind Grappling and Throwing tournament held in Edgerton, WI. Previous AKF tournaments have had a heavy focus in tae kwon do; this tournament showcased the jiu jitsu and judo portions of the mixed martial art.

grappling and throwing at AKF Edgerton Wisconsin tournament GreatmatsThe tournament, which was held in the same building as the Kyuki-Do Martial Arts Academy of Edgerton, headed by black belt Aaron Stinski, found 23 of it nearly 90 competitors coming from a local crowd.

”It’s really nice when you’re the home team essentially,” Stinski said. ”There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be coming and competing at some type of level.”

The tournament also drew competitors from as far away as Lexington, Kentucky. AKF Lexington Martial Arts Academy head instructor and black belt Joe Moniot said his students were fired up after attending the Grappling and Throwing Tournament.

grappling action at AKF Grappling and throwing tournament Greatmats”I competed as well, for the first time in years,” Moniot said. ”Twelve of us competed and brought home 18 medals.”

”This tournament in particular has them really excited about competing again,” Moniot added. ”So much so, we have already started the participant list for the Spring 2017 Tournament of Champions. By listening to them recruiting their classmates, it seems as though we are likely to set a new record in number of participants from Lexington for this next tournament.”

Unlike previous AKF tournaments where participants can compete in numerous divisions such as open hand and weapons forms, sparring and board breaking where size has little to do with the competition, there was no such thing as a grand championship at the latest tournament.

Master Rick Steinmaier of the Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin Academy said in this tournament, ”Size really does make a difference.”

AKF kyuki-do youth winners 2016 GreatmatsFor that reason, both the judo (throwing) and jiu jitsu (grappling) portions of the tournament were broken down into weight class divisions. For those less comfortable with throws or submissions, there was also a novice division which followed the hybrid style of the traditional AKF tournaments.

Although judo and jiu jitsu are tertiary aspects of the Kyuki-Do curriculum, the federation does have a contingent of high level martial artists who hold rank or have experience in each of those disciplines. And with both arts growing in popularity, the federation decided to closely follow the international set of rules for both judo and jiu jitsu for the more advanced students competing in the inaugural National Grappling and Throwing Championship tournament.

”There was a division for anybody who wanted to compete and an age level for anyone who wanted to compete as well,” Stinski said. ”It was really nice to see all of those kids very proud of their accomplishments, regardless of where they placed – wearing the medals around and holding medals up for pictures. And a ton of pride in those eyes and those faces, and smiles that went from ear to ear. That was probably one of the more rewarding things.”

youth grappling at AKF grappling and throwing tournament Greatmats”It is about camaraderie,” Moniot added. ”My favorite part is being with so many people with similar interests and helping them grow even as I grow. The camaraderie is what keeps it all going strong for us.”

”We held special prep classes for the month leading up to the tournament,” Moniot added. ”A young man named Thomas was the only one who decided to compete in throwing and had not practiced this prior to the tournament. His success or failure was not what was amazing. Rather his fortitude in competing in many matches and never showing frustration. He just kept pushing forward with a smile on his face. Very impressive!”

Moniot, a martial arts veteran of more than 20 years who has competed both in and out of the AKF in many formats, is so impressed by the values of the AKF that he said despite the distance to AKF tournaments, ”We will compete only with the AKF until or unless a competition arises which I feel is safe and represents the same values as the AKF.”

youth competing at AKF kyuki-do tournament GreatmatsThe camaraderie and support system of the AKF spreads beyond the confines of its academy walls as well.

”At 1 a.m. Sunday morning, we pulled into the parking lot of our school to find the windows and trees were decorated by students who had not been able to attend,” Moniot said. ”Several of them, and even a couple people from a neighbor business, were here waiting to cheer us as we arrived. THAT’S COOL!”

 

 

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AKF Summer Tournament of Champions

New Richmond Martial Arts Academy Well Represented

Aug. 17, 2016 – As approximately 130 martial artists flocked to the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire, WI, on Saturday, August 13, the American Kyuki-Do Federation, founded in 1979 by Grand Master Ok Hyung Kim, was set to begin its 2016 Summer Tournament of Champions. The family-friendly mixed martial arts tournament brought in competitors and judges from 14 academies across the U.S. to compete in forms, weapons, sparring, grappling, board breaking and even kihapping for the youngest martial arts enthusiasts.

adults competitng AKF kyuki-do action Greatsmats 2016New Richmond shines
The AKF Martial Arts Academy of New Richmond, Wisconsin, boasted the largest number of competitors to enter the Greatmats-sponsored tournament at 31, and produced the 17 and under Junior Grand Champion – Stephen Post-Priller. It also produced the tournament’s oldest competitor, Keith Langfeldt, age 72.

Academy Owner and Head Instructor Zachary Hansen said, ”I’m proud of my school and the students that made the commitment to go over there. It says a lot about them.”

It all began with a friendly competition between Hansen and AKF Martial Arts Academy of Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Owner and Head Instructor Chester Gustavson to see which academy could get the most members to compete in the tournament.

Hansen, who competed in his first AKF tournament in 2011, has been so impressed by the quality of people that surrounded him and his family at the martial arts tournaments that he wanted to share that experience with his students. He said once you attend an AKF tournament ”You know you are in the right place, in a safe place. It’s an awesome family event.”

So he encouraged his students to attend, do their forms, make some new friends and get a bigger picture of what the American Kyuki-Do Federation is.

”It’s a lot bigger than your 10-12 students in class or your 50-100 students in your school,” Hansen said. ”You get a way better picture of how awesome our Kyuki-Do family really is.”

As the excitement grew, so did the commitment to preparing for the tournament. By the time the Summer Tournament of Champions rolled around, Hansen had hosted a total six tournament prep seminars in his New Richmond and River Falls (Wisconsin) academies, which open to students of all AKF academies.

”I wanted my students to have a successful tournament and feel prepared and confident,” Hansen said.

junior champion at AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsPost-Priller Wins Long-Awaited Junior Grand Championship
One of Hansen’s students to find that success was 14-year-old Post-Priller, who entered with several near misses in his quest for a junior grand championship in five years of competing as a black belt.

”He finished second numerous times where he’s missed out by a point or a half a point,” Hansen said. ”That’s how close he’s come, and he couldn’t have come any closer that last time.”

Post-Priller actually tied for junior grand championship on Saturday and had to break the tie with a form-off.

”He brought it,” Hansen said. ”It was his time. He’s worked hard every time for it. He preps and practices harder than anybody else leading up the the tournament – that last month or so – both in the academy and at home.”

Even with all of his success in Kyuki-Do, Post-Priller remains grounded.

”He’s a very humble student – everything that we expect and train to be as a black belt,” Hansen said. ”I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

youth at AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsNever Too Old
Also hailing from the New Richmond academy was tournament newcomer 72-year-old Keith Langfeldt. Although he started training in 2011, Langfeldt had not been able to compete in any prior tournaments due to ongoing shoulder injuries.

”He could have easily walked away and given up and said, ‘I’m just not going to be able to do this,”’ Hansen said. ”But he hung in there.”

Langfeldt is viewed by many as the grandpa of the academy and uses his patriarch position to help others. As a member of the certified instructor team, Langfeldt works with a blind student twice a week and is a special olympics coach.

Although still not feeling 100 percent on Saturday, Langfeldt competed in forms and broke through the tournament barricade.

”That’s a great example of one of our tenants,” Hansen said. ”The perseverance of just continuing on through all of the health adversities that he’s had and being able to make adjustments to his techniques.”

Or Too Young
3 year old winner Kihap at AKF Summer Tournament 2016 GreatmatsAt the other end of the age spectrum was 3-year-old Kortney Hart, representing Kyuki-Do Martial Arts Academy of Amery (Wisconsin). Hart was the Kihap Contest Champion and also competed in forms.

Hart’s instructor, 3rd dan Tammy Turcotte said, ”I think Kortney is the youngest (competitor) I have ever sent (to a tournament). It takes guts to get out in front of a panel of Black Belts no matter what your age is. When you are only 3, everyone is much bigger than you are. It can be scary.

”Part of what we encourage in Kyuki-Do is getting out of your comfort zone. Some people are comfortable in front of judges, others aren’t.

”We weren’t sure how Kortney would do. You never know when children are going to pull out their shy card – especially when they are not typically shy). Kortney did her form and the kihap contest with energy and enthusiasm! The excitement on her face when she got her trophy was priceless!”

”That’s one of the beautiful things about Kyuki-Do,” Hansen said, ”It’s not always about the physical aspect. It’s about the mental aspect of training as well that allows all students to be successful from 3 to 72.”

Leading by Example
Gustavson, a 4th dan,was the highest ranking competitor at the tournament. Gustafson, who’s been training in the art since 1991, said everyone’s reason for competing at the tournament is different, whether its for fun, trophies, personal challenge, etc. He competes to set a good example for his students.

”You are graded, judged every day,” Gustavson said, whether at school or work. ”But there’s nothing like face-to-face competition.”

In sparring or grappling, for example, you win or lose. It’s that simple. And face-to-face competition sheds a true light on how fierce of a competitor you are, Gustavson said. You find out just how deep you want to go.

”Some students participate in the tournament to overcome their fears of performing in front of a group,” Gustavson said. ”It’s a way to check their confidence level. For some individuals like this, just showing up is a win for them.”

Turcotte added, ”When students don’t do as well as they think they should – getting a 3rd or 4th or participant ribbon instead of a 1st or 2nd place trophy, I like to ask them how many of their classmates did not participate. They are already further ahead than those who were not at the competition. I also ask, ‘Did you do your best and did you have fun? ‘ That, to me, is the most important thing.”

Other highlights
adult black belt champion at AKF Summer Tournament Eau Claire GreatmatsTopping the field of adult black belts was Grand Champion Reggie Madrigal of Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin, Ill.

Another special highlight to the day’s festivities was Jacob Hansen, of New Richmond, winning a Free VIP All Access Pass to this year’s AKF Black Belt Extravaganza, which will be held at The Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc., Nov. 4-6.

The AKF Summer Tournament of Champions has taken place in Eau Claire for at least 8 years. Included at this year’s event were 11 participants from Lexington, Kentucky, and 1 from Oconee, Georgia.

The 2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Summer Tournament of Champions was sponsored by Greatmats.

Learn more about the 2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Tournament Season.