Mount Airy’s Nate Jones made his competitive karate debut on Saturday, May 14, and has already earned his first trip to higher level competition.
Jones, who took up the sport at the Japan Shudokan Budo-Kai Karate School in King last August, was one of a number of competitors from the school who made their way to the AAU Karate Southeast SuperRegional Championship held in Raleigh that day. Competing for the first time and entered in the 7-8 year old beginner division, Jones brought back a gold medal in Empty Hand Kata, and silvers in Kobudo (Weapons) Kata and in Kumite (Sparring).
The dojo (karate school) as a whole won six golds, the two silvers courtesy of Jones, and a bronze during the course of the day. Sensei Steven Hewett is proud of his students for all the long hours of training they put in.
Jones will compete again in July at the AAU Karate Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he will be joined by Zeb Mathis of King.
Mathis competed in the 9-year-old novice division in Raleigh. He repeated his clean sweep of gold at the AAU NC State Championships from a few months ago, coming in first in Empty Hand Kata, Kobudo Kata and Kumite. He has taken gold in every competition he has taken part in during 2016. Last year, he won several gold and silver medals during the AAU nationals and Junior Olympics, and aims to capture more golds before the year is out.
A third member of the dojo, Hugh Johnson of King, competed in the 15-17 Black Belt division, along with 14 other black belts, and claimed bronze in Weapons Kata. His father Glenn competed in the 35-and-older Adult Advanced division and won a pair of golds, in Empty Hand and Weapons Kata.
The AAU Karate SuperRegional Championship is a qualifying event for both AAU Karate Nationals and AAU Junior Olympics. It brings athletes together from the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee who compete for the top three positions in their respective divisions.
Judges for these events must go through several levels of training to ensure standards are maintained in judging the athletes, not only at the state level but for national and international competitions as well. Japan Shudokan Budo-Kai is the only AAU Karate Training Facility in Stokes County. For more information, check out their Facebook page or go to www.jskd.us.