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Karate pupil wins championship title

Young Suffolk martial artists recently competed against nationwide opponents, and one of them even emerged with her first grand championship victory.

Students of The Dojo Mount Everest Karate Studio on Eclipse Drive competed in the sixth annual Old School Fall Classic U.S. Open Karate Tournament held at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth on Sept. 16. Teams across the country traveled to the high school to showcase their skills and impress the judges.

Alaina Spears achieved first place in kata — Japanese for “form” — with carefully choreographed movements. The 8-year-old also ranked first in both weapons and sparring competitions.

Alaina advanced to win her first junior grand championship title and walk away with a 5-foot-tall trophy. Carlos Rivas, karate master at the Eclipse karate studio, described how emotional Alaina was when she was announced as one of the grand champions.

Carlos Rivas, karate master at the Dojo Mount Everest Karate Studio on Eclipse Drive, and his student Alaina Spears, 8, stand beside her trophy from the Sixth Annual Old School Fall Classic U.S. Open held at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth on Sept. 16.

“They were tears of joy,” Rivas said.

Alaina just needed to place first in one of the competitions to advance. She bested 11 other children with her kata performance.

“I tried my very best, and I’m so happy,” she said.

Rivas said he convinced his pupil to choose kata for the grand championship trials instead of weapons. The old Grand-Masters that judged the children preferred kata, he said.

“It was very nice to see the unity between the old masters,” he said. “I told my students that they were looking for internal power, and they really showed them. The kids got a lot of compliments from the masters.”

Alaina was joined by six others from The Dojo at the competition.

Caevyon Askew placed first in weapons and sparring and third in kata. Breyona Whittaker place first in sparring and third in kata. Sydnee Brown placed second in sparring and kata. Camauri McPherson won first in kata, second in sparring and third in weapons.

Alaina’s sister Teress Dobie placed first in weapons, third in sparring and fourth in kata. Treshaun Whittaker earned first in sparring and fourth in weapons.

Alaina, Teress and Treshaun competed in their first national Amateur Athletic Association karate competition in June and July. The tough AAU team from Hawaii left a strong impression on Alaina, Rivas said.

“That team motivated her to train even harder,” he said.

The students train for 10 hours each week, including weekends. Sydnee’s mother, Miki Young Brown, was enthusiastic about how this has benefited her daughter.

“This has helped her with self-control and staying focused,” Brown said.

The students will be visited by ninth-degree grand master Keishun Kakinohana from Okinawa Oct. 23-28, along with ninth-degree black belt Mark Greville from Australia, a friend of Kakinohana’s.

“The kids will learn some of the old ways of karate,” Rivas said. “It’s going to be a different flavor for them.”

The Dojo will hold a car wash this Saturday at Murphy USA Gas Station at 1204 N. Main St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to raise money for competition expenses. Call 934-1309 for more information.