Martial Arts Returns to Colgate for Thirteenth CMA Tournament



Martial artists from around the upstate region converged on Reid Athletic Center on Sunday, March 29, for the thirteenth annual Colgate University Inter-collegial and Open Martial Arts Tournament (CMA). The tournament was open to competitors of all ages. The youngster attendees may have barely topped the age of three, but CMA boasted some star competitors as well. Gracing the tournament was nationally ranked karate artist, Jeff Melander. Melander is a fifth-degree black belt and head instructor and owner of the New York Red Dragon schools. He performed in the forms, or kata, section of the tournament. He amazed the crowd with self choreographed kata that included a back flip to a push up position and two successive absolutely horizontal jumping spinning hook kicks at head height. He certainly didn’t have to hit anyone to make jaws drop to the floor.

Another highlight of the afternoon was the grand champion sparring match between Tom Acuri, a sixth-degree black belt from Bailey’s Karate, and Heath Waterman, third-degree black belt and owner of Waterman’s Martial Arts. The CMA was Acuri’s first appearance on the competitive stage in eight years. His temporary retirement didn’t seem to have set him back much. His sparring style was minimalist, using lightning-fast strikes to target holes in opponent’s defenses. Waterman put up a valiant effort, even managing to knock Acuri to the ground one time, but Acuri’s over powering style sealed the grand championship at a score of five to two before the time limit.

Colgate students also put up a good showing at the CMA. Of the five students who chose to compete, black belts, first-year Karen Bascom and senior Sarah Hesler struck gold. Bascom, a taekwondo practitioner and member of Colgate’s Taekwondo Club, bested all comers in sparring, taking home the trophy for the black-belt in the adult women’s division. Hesler’s performance of Seipai during the kata segment earned her a trophy as well. Hesler represented her home school of New York Goju Karate Association at the tournament; she also earned a bronze metal in sparring.

Sophomore and yellow-belt green stripe, Stephanie O’Brien, earned silvers in both sparring and kata, while a sophomore with the same rank, Ryan Leal, took home bronze in both divisions even though he had to compete with advanced belts because of lack on entries in his bracket. Gennady Julien, class of HS, attended the CMA for the first time as a black belt, having earned this prestigious rank just the week before. Despite entering new territory and going up against stiff competition Julien came away with two third-place finishes. Pinney’s American Karate, the hosting school and the school to which the last three competitors all belong, boasted 26 different competitors at the tournament across all skill levels.

Also participating in the tournament, but not competing, was Colgate’s Aikido Club. Aikido is a non-violent defense system that focuses on redirecting and neutralizing an opponent’s energy rather than injuring them directly. The Aikido Club presented an hour-long demonstration of techniques important to their style such as roles, throws and locks. Students participating in this demonstration included juniors, club president Samantha Newmark and vice president Michael Lam and sophomores Hiep Tran and Oleg Melyashinskiy. Also part of the demonstration were Sensei Jim Wallace, Shoshana Brassfield (non-student) and Andrew Tanner (non-student).