PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – The gymnasium at Arnold High School was packed on Saturday for the 33rd Annual Sunshine Classic Karate Tournament.
Global organization Yoshukai Karate Kobudo has been hosting the event for years in the Panhandle, but had to take a hiatus due to COVID-19.
However, athletes across the south, ranging in age from five to over 70, were thrilled to find him.
“You come to a competition like this, it’s more than just training in the dojo. You come and really put in the effort and like you said, you don’t have to do much to start sweating, ”said Jimmy Croley, seventh degree black belt and Bay County Shihan.
About 100 people participated in the event, some from as far away as Texas, all of whom came to the Panhandle for the opportunity to compete in not one, but several different categories.
“It’s a sports karate tournament. You have the combat point which is sports karate, weapons which are Kubodo, then you have the Katas form, which is the formal practice of martial arts of different styles, ”said Mike Culbreath, co-director of the organization. World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo.
The organizer is hopeful that he can continue to bring this tournament back to Bay County, as it is important to keep the martial arts growing among the younger generation.
“Some people watch TV or the iPhone for many hours, but karate uses all the physical and the mental and they use both, left to right, on both sides, so it’s good form for the youngsters.” , co-director of the world organization Yoshukai Karate Kobudo. Hiroaki Toyama said.
While some of the south’s top contenders were on the gym floor on Saturday, the locals shone as well.
Croley won equipment as he was crowned Grand Champion.
“Winning the grand champion means a lot because it’s the best of the best of the day, you are not only competing against the division I was in, but now I am competing against the best, so that means a lot when you win, ”Croley said.