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Sports Spotlight: Van Clief Martial Arts Tournament

Oct. 13, 2008 — All nine of the territory's karate schools showed up at the Mark C. Marin Center on St. Thomas over the weekend for the first annual Ron Van Clief Martial Arts Classic Tournament, with students displaying skills that ranged from sparring to weaponry.
"I've lived here for about two years now, and this is my first tournament," said Van Clief, a grandmaster and five-time world martial-arts champion. "But I hope to have this going forever because this is a wonderful event, and I think it would be a wonderful thing to have more children involved in the martial arts. I want to give them something to do that imparts discipline and dedication, and develop the skills they'll need out there in the real world."
Van Clief, 65, runs the after-school mixed martial-arts program at Antilles School, which includes a foundation in self-defense. He is a 15-time All American champion and 10th-degree black belt.
"My goal now is to teach the children and spread my knowledge," he said. "To me, martial arts in the territory needs a lot of work — maybe more expert and disciplined training and more conditioning. There's not much emphasis on physical-fitness methods here, so that needs to be developed as well. Martial arts is a human-development process — it gives you ethics, courtesy, confidence and all the other skills you need."
The tournament allowed martial-arts students of all ages and disciplines to show what they could do. In addition to kata and sparring competitions, participants also displayed their weaponry and breaking techniques to the judges.
"I've been practicing for three years, but this is my first year competing," Darryl Williams Jr. said after participating in the kata competition. "This is more like an open tournament where all disciplines are welcome, and I enjoy that. Instead of just sticking to one thing, we can learn about what's going on in the other schools and see how others in the other disciplines move and learn how to develop our skills and do better."
Some participants practiced for the tournament months in advance, trying to perfect their moves.
"A kata is basically a series of different movements that are used to simulate a real-life fighting event," said Anubi Kahina, a student of the Art Den Jitsu System out of St. Croix, which was founded by Grandmaster Arthur Dennery. "Our group is using three different katas here today, and it took us about seven months of going through them to get everything perfected."
Kahina has been a student of the system for about two years.
"I love it — I love it," he said. "For me, being 22 years old, it gives me something to do, keeps me from getting into other activities that aren't quite as positive."
Terry Daley-Stanley, another Art Den Jitsu student, turned out a win in the kata competition by performing an eagle-spread, or Tai Fano, kata.
"I've been doing this almost three years now," Daley-Stanley said. "I always wanted to do martial arts, and once I started I couldn't give it up. I was preparing for three months for this competition, and going up against everyone else, with all the different ranks and skill levels — it really feels great to win."
Dennery — also a 10th-degree black belt — has studied martial arts for nearly 50 years, and started his system in 1984.
"I try to teach my students discipline and how to get along with each other," he said. "That's really the essence of martial arts, and that's what really attracted me to it all those years ago. And I think our students understand that, and have demonstrated that here today. They are doing very well."
Other participants in the tournament hailed from the States and other Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Trinidad and the Cayman Islands.
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Oct. 13, 2008 -- All nine of the territory's karate schools showed up at the Mark C. Marin Center on St. Thomas over the weekend for the first annual Ron Van Clief Martial Arts Classic Tournament, with students displaying skills that ranged from sparring to weaponry.
"I've lived here for about two years now, and this is my first tournament," said Van Clief, a grandmaster and five-time world martial-arts champion. "But I hope to have this going forever because this is a wonderful event, and I think it would be a wonderful thing to have more children involved in the martial arts. I want to give them something to do that imparts discipline and dedication, and develop the skills they'll need out there in the real world."
Van Clief, 65, runs the after-school mixed martial-arts program at Antilles School, which includes a foundation in self-defense. He is a 15-time All American champion and 10th-degree black belt.
"My goal now is to teach the children and spread my knowledge," he said. "To me, martial arts in the territory needs a lot of work -- maybe more expert and disciplined training and more conditioning. There's not much emphasis on physical-fitness methods here, so that needs to be developed as well. Martial arts is a human-development process -- it gives you ethics, courtesy, confidence and all the other skills you need."
The tournament allowed martial-arts students of all ages and disciplines to show what they could do. In addition to kata and sparring competitions, participants also displayed their weaponry and breaking techniques to the judges.
"I've been practicing for three years, but this is my first year competing," Darryl Williams Jr. said after participating in the kata competition. "This is more like an open tournament where all disciplines are welcome, and I enjoy that. Instead of just sticking to one thing, we can learn about what's going on in the other schools and see how others in the other disciplines move and learn how to develop our skills and do better."
Some participants practiced for the tournament months in advance, trying to perfect their moves.
"A kata is basically a series of different movements that are used to simulate a real-life fighting event," said Anubi Kahina, a student of the Art Den Jitsu System out of St. Croix, which was founded by Grandmaster Arthur Dennery. "Our group is using three different katas here today, and it took us about seven months of going through them to get everything perfected."
Kahina has been a student of the system for about two years.
"I love it -- I love it," he said. "For me, being 22 years old, it gives me something to do, keeps me from getting into other activities that aren't quite as positive."
Terry Daley-Stanley, another Art Den Jitsu student, turned out a win in the kata competition by performing an eagle-spread, or Tai Fano, kata.
"I've been doing this almost three years now," Daley-Stanley said. "I always wanted to do martial arts, and once I started I couldn't give it up. I was preparing for three months for this competition, and going up against everyone else, with all the different ranks and skill levels -- it really feels great to win."
Dennery -- also a 10th-degree black belt -- has studied martial arts for nearly 50 years, and started his system in 1984.
"I try to teach my students discipline and how to get along with each other," he said. "That's really the essence of martial arts, and that's what really attracted me to it all those years ago. And I think our students understand that, and have demonstrated that here today. They are doing very well."
Other participants in the tournament hailed from the States and other Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Trinidad and the Cayman Islands.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.