Competition hopes name change helps
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 6, 2003
Different styles of martial arts will clash this weekend as the State Games of Mississippi officially get under way starting with five events on Saturday and Sunday.
The games kick off with martial arts, biathlon, fencing, sailing and mule and donkey.
The Mississippi Open Martial Arts Championship opens the floor to varying ranges of fighting styles and experience levels Saturday at Northcrest Baptist Church.
Styles that will be on display at the olympic-style competition will be karate, pangsoodo, hapkido, jiujutsu, kick boxing and taekwando.
A name change should benefit this opening weekend competition.
Last year, the event was labeled as a taekwando tournament, which kept many students of different disciplines away from the State Games. It drew just four participants last year.
By changing the wording to martial arts from taekwando, Roberts said the event should be able to draw more people to the Queen City to compete for the gold, silver and bronze medals.
While the different styles will be mixed together at the Saturday competition, there will be divisions based on age, weight, sex and experience level.
Corresponding belts will compete with each other in male and female competitions.
Roberts said he couldn't tell how the name change will affect the turnout for the event, but he has been hard at work to draw more people than last year.
The commissioner has sent flyers to nearly every martial arts school in the state.
He has received some encouraging signs that the competition will be bigger than last year.
Attracting a strong field is important to the competition.
Martial Arts was not part of the State Games of Mississippi when it started, and this meant many fighters had to travel out of state to find a tournament.
Because of the varying styles, the martial arts competition will be able to offer a little something for everyone interested in the kick-and-punch sport.
This will allow the event to not only provide a sparring tournament for the Magnolia State, but it will also expose people to many different disciplines.
Weigh ins for competitors will run from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., and spectators can watch the competition for $3, children five and under will be admitted free.