The American Martial Arts Institute's annual weapons competition was held at the main location in New Hartford, New York on Saturday, April 8, 2017. While the overall aim of the competition is to promote school camaraderie, this event has become an essential part of the student's growth and training in the American Eagle Style, and it plays a role in a student qualifying to test for higher ranks. American Eagle Style is an empty-hand style founded on traditional martial arts principles. This school maintains a martial arts standard for attitude and etiquette, which must be demonstrated consistently for a student to test. The American Martial Arts Institute provides several ways for students to demonstrate their positive attitude, involvement in the school, concern for fellow students, etiquette, respect, and in other areas essential for continued growth in the style to meet the expectations for their rank. One of these events is the weapons competition.
The American Martial Arts Institute currently offers ten extension tools for its students: the tonfa, eku, bo, sai, kama, sword, escrima, naginata, half-moon staff, and cane. Training with these tools has a noticeable benefit for the student's empty-hand skills. They promote strength, power, focus, and mental discipline as the student learns to control an extension of their body in the form of the traditional weapon. It also provides the opportunity to see students from other class nights and to support them with a positive attitude.
The extension tools are not taught in regular classes. Instead students may choose to challenge themselves in the use of one or more of these tools, expanding their knowledge of the martial arts, their appreciation for the vast wealth the school has to offer, and improving their empty hand skills. The instructors for each extension tool schedules three class for that weapon each year. This give the student three opportunities to take each weapon. The calendar is posted for the entire year each May in the school's glass display case and on the school's website calendar.
Extension tools are required for all levels of adult black belt, with some ranks requiring the use of several weapons, and 7th dans utilizing all weapons taught in the school. The extension tool classes are taught at separate times throughout the year and are available for all student ages 13 and older, and yellow belts and above of any age. Once a student has learned a particular extension tool, they may practice before and after classes with help from the instructors. This demonstration of a student's growth in their martial arts attitude and is especially important for brown belts and essential for black belts. Therefore, all ranks are encouraged to become involved in the use of these tools, and all of the Master Instructor's look to see blue belts and higher participating in the competition.
The demonstration of attitude and skills by this year's participants was impressive. Each participant stood before a panel of 5th, 6th, and 7th degree black belt judges and announced their name and the name of their instructor who they were representing before demonstrating the kata. Each participant demonstrated a willingness to challenge themselves, to overcome the pressures of stress to make the instructors proud.
The event was organized and hosted by Master Eric Stalloch. Grandmaster Crandall, the head of the American Martial Arts Institute, was present to oversee the day's event and to hand out the awards. The judging panels were led by Master Chuff, Master Freleigh, Master Moller, and Master Morris. The black belt division was judged only by the sixth and seventh degrees, with four Master Instructors on the panel. Many other black belt instructors also made time to attend the competition and helped with activities such as totaling the judges scores and assisting.
White Belt: Adult Division 1st Place: Lucrecia Burmaster
Blue-Purple Belt: Junior Division 1st Place: Joseph LaBarbera 2nd Place: Ethan LaBuz
Blue-Purple Belt: Adult Division 1st Place: Matthew Michaels 2nd Place: Courtney Smith
Brown Belt: Junior Division 1st Place: Neil Grant 2nd Place: Edis Bubalo
Brown Belt: Adult Division 1st Place: Maria Quintal 2nd Place: Joshua Gray
Black Belt Division 1st Place: Alyse Lisi 2nd Place: T.J. Labayewski
NOTE: This year there were no competitors in the Yellow-Green Belt divisions.
Thank you to all of the instructors and staff who volunteered their time to assist in judging, organizing, and supporting this important school event.