June 14, 2009 — For Manuel Carrion, 10 years of training has taken martial arts beyond a sport or activity.
"It's like my lifestyle, an art. It's what I do, who I am," the 22-year-old Puerto Rican said Sunday, moments after defending his title by winning his second straight Battle of the Beach black belt championship and accepting the $2,000 first prize.
The woman's division was also a repeat, as Sandra Lopez recaptured the title and prize money she'd won the year before. But this year's title was a bit of a letdown, she said, as she was the only competitor and thus won without having to fight anyone.
"I wanted to show what I could do," she said.
Lopez, who turned 19 on Saturday, has been studying martial arts since she was four years old.
Carrion was almost untouchable as he defended his crown. In his first match, against Osvaldo G. Tirado, also of Puerto Rico, he was able to knock out his aggressive opponent in the first of three two-minute periods.
In the championship round, Carrion had his hands full, as St. Croix's Rashad Wilson pressed him throughout the match. But Carrion's greater experience showed, as he piled up points, often waiting until Wilson launched an attack, then stepping inside it and unleashing kicks that built up a big lead.
Trailing 4-0 as the final two-minute period began, Wilson had to take more risks and Carrion was able to wait for his attack and slip inside, pulling ahead 6-0 before the match ended.
The Fourth Annual Battle of the Beach Open Martial Arts Tournament drew more than 120 competitors of all ages and experience levels from 16 martial arts schools from St. Croix, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
The first day's competition featured contestants aged 4 to 16 years and up to brown belts. Sunday was reserved for the black belts, interspersed with demonstrations of weapons and different fighting styles, with boards broken over heads and bricks smashed with fists.
The annual event is sponsored by King Cobra Martial Arts and Positive Works. Inc.
Champions Repeat at Battle of the Beach
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