November 23, 2011 - Five members of Bryant's Karate in Oxford used their lightning-fast hands and feet to pick up five medals at the World Karate Championships Nov. 2-5 in Cadiz, Spain.
Front row: Nick Nowakowski (from left), Rain Fredericks, Justin Nowakowski, David Gillespie. Back Row: Master Jeff Bryant (left) and Austin Bryant. (click for larger version)
Jeff Bryant watched his students capture a total of five medals, three bronze and two silver during the third annual World Championships.
"The competition level for the third year of this competition...was phenomenal," said Bryant. "So to even walk away with just a bronze medal was far superior than years past because it was so difficult to place this year."
Twenty-three countries were represented at the world championship.
"It's not quite the Olympics because they don't have the type of karate that we do in the Olympics, but this would be the next step to that," Bryant said.
According to Bryant, his son Austin led the group with two medals. Austin earned a silver medal in Point Sparring and a bronze medal in Continuous Sparring.
Bryant said his son defeated an opponent by two points during the semi-finals of the Point Sparring who was unbeaten during international competition.
However, due to an injury sustained during that match, Austin lost in the gold medal match to an opponent he previously beat three times in the United States.
Oxford resident Rain Fredericks, 12, took home a bronze medal in Continuous Sparring. Two years ago, Rain won a gold medal in Continuous Sparring.
Lake Orion brothers Nick and Justin Nowakowski, nine and eight respectively, also earned medals. Nick earned a bronze medal in Team Point Sparring, while Justin earned a silver medal in Point Sparring.
David Gillespie, 15 of Oxford, earned a finalist position in both the Continuous and Point Sparring. This was his first trip to the world championships.
According to Jeff Bryant, the biggest difference between this year's tournament and previous tournaments they attended was the size of the divisions.
He said in years past, there were about 10 people per division. "The divisions were double (this year)," he explained. "Instead of going there and fighting two or three times to win a medal, the kids had to fight five or six times to get their way through the bracket."
Bryant also noted the level of competition had increased from the last world championship. "This year you were getting the best kids from Germany, you were getting the best kids from England. It wasn't like you were just getting kids who showed up at the tournament," he said.
"The qualifiers that different countries are doing make sure that the best kids are coming and (they) are getting the word out there," he added.
In order to qualify for the world championships, each student had to win their respective divisions at the pre-qualifier held in Cincinnati, OH this past February and become national champions at the qualifier held in Dearborn in June.
Bryant said that it was a full karate tournament every day.
"I'm proud of them. They worked for it, they didn't complain they had to go every single day to the tournament and they just did a great job," he said.
Bryant said the kids also got a near history lesson while they were over in Spain. Bryant explained that Cadiz was one of the oldest European cities.
He and his students also went to Gibraltar during their down time.
"It was a great history (lesson) for the kids and as well for me...once we got on the rock and looked across the water, you could see Africa from there," he said. "It was a great experience all around."
In addition to winning on the international level, Bryant and his students are also dominating on a local level.
Competing in the Michigan Sport Karate Circuit, eight of his students took home first place honors.
The winners were Jackson Pett (five and under sparring), Andrew Alexander (six novice sparring), Nathan Bourn (seven to eight novice sparring), Christian Lebich (seven to eight intermediate sparring), Justin Nowakowski (seven to eight advanced sparring), David Gillespie (13-15 advanced boys sparring), Rachel Young (13-15 advanced girls sparring) and Brandon Young (adult intermediate sparring).
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.