AKF Tests Waters with New Grappling and Throwing Tournament
Instructors and Competitors Fired Up About Addition of Judo and Jiu Jitsu Focused Kyuki-Do Tournament
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 in Edgerton, WI. While previous AKF tournaments have had a heavy focus in tae kwon do, this tournament showcased the judo and jiu jitsu portions of the mixed martial art.
The tournament, which was held in the same building as the Kyuki-Do Martial Arts Academy of Edgerton, headed by third-degree 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 - a nine hour drive from Edgerton. AKF Lexington Martial Arts Academy head instructor and fourth-degree black belt Joe Moniot said his students were fired up after attending the Grappling and Throwing Tournament.
''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.''
For 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.''
''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.''
The 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!''