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Martial arts students earn national, state honors

Back Row (L to R): Noah Beauchamp, Paige Munro, Mike Beauchamp, Christopher Highgate, David Gillespie, Steven Schultz Middle Row (L to R): Nick Nowakowski, Freddie Fresard, Marisa Bourn, Christian Lebich, Cameron Mumbrue, Jack Rose Front Row ( L to R): Justin Nowakowski, Andrew Alexander (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010 - Much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had Splinter as a mentor, the students at Bryant's Karate in Oxford have Master Jeff Bryant to learn under.

Thanks to his students hard work, four members of Team Bryant were selected to participate for Team USA at the World Kickboxing Championships (WKC) in Albuferia, Portugal later this month.

"It was a lot of hard work for them, so I am really proud of them," said Bryant.

The world competition will take place from October 30 through November 2.

Competing for the United States will be Oxford High School senior Austin Bryant in the 65 kilogram and under group for the 13 to 17 year old category.

Brothers Nick and Justin Nowakowski, of Lake Orion, will also be competing for the United States. Nick, 9, will be competing in the 25 kilogram and under division for ages 12 and under. His younger brother Justin, 7, will be competing in the 35 kilogram and under division in the same age group.

All three participants will be going for the gold in continuous fighting and points sparring. The amazing thing about Justin is that he is the youngest person to ever compete for the United States at the WKC.

According to Bryant, once Justin's brother was selected for the team, Bryant called the US coach and asked if there was an opening for Justin since he was already going to be at the event, even though he wasn't old enough.

After the U.S. coach got the approval from the World Kickboxing Council, Justin made it through the tryouts.

According to Bryant, the WKC is an international competition that features a group of 43 countries that get together and compete against each other.

"It's sports karate," Bryant explained. "It's not like your mixed martial arts or things like that...it's a points karate tournament with a kickboxing portion as well."

WKC has only been around for the last two years after it broke off from the World Kickboxing Association. According to their website, www.wkcamerica.com, WKC "is recognized as the fastest growing martial arts organization in the world."

In order to qualify for the world championships, a competitor has to win a pre-qualifying tournament in order to get to one of the five national qualifying tournaments.

The top four qualifiers from each of the five qualifying tournaments are chosen, and then the top three from that group are chosen to represent the United States.

In addition to having four team members make it onto the world team, Bryant also had 15 students place combine for 25 state titles at the Michigan State Championships.

Bryant said that the Michigan State Championship is run from January through November with nine major tournaments where competitors receive points if they finish in one of the first four positions at each tournament.

"Whoever has the most points at the end of the year actually has the state title," Bryant explained

The first place winners were Freddie Fresard (5 & under Sparring), Jack Rose (6 Novice Sparring), Christian Lebich (7-8 Novice Sparring), Nick Nowakowski (7-8 Intermediate Sparring) and David Gillespie (11-12 Intermediate Sparring).

Second place winners were Andrew Alexander (5 & under Sparring), Justin Nowakowski (6 advanced forms & sparring), Nick Nowakowski (7-8 Intermediate Forms) and Paige Munro (13-15 Black Belt Girls Sparring).

Third place winners were Cameron Mumbrue (8 & Under Weapons, 7-8 Intermediate Forms & Sparring), Mike Beauchamp (Black Belt Weapons), Lebich (7-8 Novice forms), Gillespie (11-12 Intermediate Forms), Steven Shultz (11-12 advanced sparring & Forms), Marisa Bourn (9-10 Novice Sparring) and Christopher Highgate (11-12 Black Belt Boys Sparring).

Fourth place winners were Justin Nowakowski (8 & under novice weapons), Nick Nowakowski (8 & under advanced weapons), Schultz (11-15 advanced weapons), Noah Beauchamp (11-12 novice Sparring) and Mike Beauchamp (Men's Black Belt Heavyweight Sparring).

"For us being a small karate team and for what we do, we just had 25 people place in the state and I think that is something great for the kids because this lets them know there is more to martial arts than just Oxford," Bryant said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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