Martial Arts Students Showcase Skills at Open World Tournament

V.I. Youth attended 2016 U.S. Open World Martial Arts Tournament
V.I. Youth attended 2016 U.S. Open World Martial Arts Tournament

St. Croix and St. Thomas youth who train at the Professor Louis A. Jackson International Martial Arts Academy (PJIMAA) recently returned victorious from the 2016 U.S. Open World Martial Arts Tournament. The two-day tournament was held July 8 and July 9, at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla., with over 4,000 registered competitors from Jamaica, Brazil, Florida, South Africa, New York, Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Florida, Yugoslavia and China, just to name a few.
The 14 V.I. students, ranging from ages 6 to 19, competed in traditional forms, traditional weapons, continuous sparring and point sparring. Two black belt students competed in Sport Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Antonio Rosario, 16 years-old, rocked the crowd and won 1st place over South Africa as well as medals in four other divisions, while teammate, 16 year-old Emmett Joseph, won 3rd place. Emmett also, won 2nd place in traditional weapons as well as medals in continuous and point sparring.
Jadan Orr, who was also registered to compete in Sport MMA, was busy winning 1st place in traditional forms and was unable to compete due to conflict of schedule. He did win medals in traditional weapons and continuous and point sparring. Black belt Eddie Cepeda, 19 years-old and the only adult competitor, won medals in traditional forms and continuous and point sparring.
Nia Lake, 12 years-old, recently promoted to purple belt and one of two female competitors, won 3rd place for continuous sparing and medals in traditional forms and point sparring. Gabriel King, a 6 year-old purple belt, also competed for the first time and took home medals in his divisions.
Two brothers, purple belts Mikko and Segev Griffith, both won 3rd place in point sparring, 4th place in traditional forms and medals in continuous sparring. Brown belts Cyierro Gilpin, 11 years-old, and sister Jahia-Li, 8 years-old, took part in tough competition in the advanced division. Semaj Johnson, a 10 years old and a brown belt, won 2nd place in continuous sparring and medals in traditional forms and point sparring.
Grandmaster Louis A. Jackson, founder and instructor of the Ja Goju Jitsu-Ryu Federation, said that the students served as USVI ambassadors when competing in the six-star tournament and that the students, mostly beginning and intermediate, were happy to be given the opportunity to compete.
Beginner white belt students did outstanding with 13 year-old Emmanuel Hodge-Sprauve winning 1st place in traditional forms, the only division he in which he competed; and Omar Salam, 6 years-old, winning 3rd place in continuous sparring and medals in traditional forms and point sparring. Curtis Flavious, a 9 year-old student from Grandmaster Jackson’s class in the after school program at the Education Connections 21st Century Community Learning Center, won 2nd place in point sparring.
Our students performed exceptionally well and “I am proud of each and every one of them.” said Jackson. Besides their exemplary performance, they displayed the Bushido of the martial arts. Many grandmasters commended them on their discipline, outstanding skills and sportsmanship.
It was rewarding to see the pride the parents displayed for their children and the pride of being from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The USVI flags were being waved throughout the arena as well as the Night of the Champion, which is aired on ESPN. The tournament Web site is www.usopenkarate.com, and it will air tonight on ESPN.
Assisting Professor Jackson was his son, Master Austin Jackson (USVI), who resides in Orlando and Sensei Sherwon Williams. Professor Joshua Espinal was also on hand to assist and show support.
Results are as follows:
1st Place 3
2nd Place 3
3rd Place 5
4th Place 2
Medals/Finalists 22
The Academy thanks the sponsors and community partners who continue to support the organization and the youth of the U.S. Virgin Islands. They include: U.S.V.I. Housing Parks and Recreation, Department of Tourism, Caribbean Reservations Inc., ITIM USVI LLC, VI Lottery, Cruzan Viril Ltd., Graham Urological Center LLC and Primary Care PLLC.
The Academy also thanks the students and parents of Ja Goju Jitsu-Ryu Federation for their continued dedication, commitment and fundraising efforts.
For more information about this topic, contact Louis A. Jackson at 642-0300 or e-mail [email protected]

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