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Saturday February 13th, 2016 3:57AM

Special worldwide karate event hosted at Riverside Military Academy

By Luke Story
GAINESVILLE - It was a day of achievement for nearly 300 karate competitors on Saturday at Riverside Military Academy, as hundreds of spectators watched young and old contend for belts and trophies. <br /> <br /> Karate Grand Master and Organization President John St. James and his Atlantic Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation (APTSDF) staff host the international karate competition biannually, but this year due to scheduling conflicts at the usual location, the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, Hall County and Riverside hosted the event for the first time. <br /> <br /> "It was sheer luck that we found Riverside. The facilities and people are absolutely perfect. Hosting the event at Riverside is truly serendipitous," St. James said. <br /> <br /> It was clear upon walking into Curtis Hall Gym that the elite of karate were competing. <br /> <br /> "In order to be invited to this competition the martial artists had to excel at past competitions. Honestly, this is likely the most comprehensive competition hosted," St. James said.<br /> <br /> Excitement mounted when competitors started breaking wood boards and cement cinderblocks during the competition for 1,2,3 and co 3 black belts. <br /> <br /> "Breaking boards and blocks is always a thrill to watch. Winners of the competitions are crowned national championships and there are two grand champions in the black belt competitions. An event like this is rewarding for everyone," St. James said. <br /> <br /> Perhaps the most honorable aspect of the weekend was the conventional attitude that it's all for fun and lesson. <br /> <br /> "We have a mantra around here -- 'It's not what you get, it's what you become.' This mantra guides all of us here. Everything that happens here is for the betterment of all competitors," St. James said. <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the organization that Grand Master St. James presides over (ADTSDF) also has a non-profit branch (Atlantic Pacific Tang So Do Foundation) that provides free karate lessons for individuals that otherwise could not offer them. <br /> <br /> "The purpose of the foundation is to give back to the community. We teach participants leadership training, communications, and how to stand up for their beliefs. Bottom line we teach good sportsmanship to participants and ask them to take it out into the community," St. James said. "Making a meaningful impact on everyone involved over the weekend means so much to me and the foundation and organization."<br /> <br /> Competition was certainly intense on the gym floor but the aura that filled the gym was that of empowered mind, body and spirit <br /> <br /> <b>NOTES:</b> If anyone has an interest in learning more about traditional martial arts you are urged to contact Karate World of North Georgia, locations in Braselton or Suwannee at 770-614-0006.
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