So far this year members of Team VDK have done very well on both the Sport Karate and Traditional Karate Circuits.

One of these team members is nine-year-old Jacey Swopes who competes in the Youth Age 8-9 Advanced Division. Jacey is a very dedicated student and a fierce competitor. Jacey has been training in Karate now for three years and in that time has progressed well and has won many tournaments along the way including a Missouri State Champion Title, two Oklahoma State Champion Titles and a NASKA National Champion Title. This year has been no different except for Jacey deciding to also compete in Traditional Karate Tournaments sanctioned by the American Athletic Union or AAU.

The Traditional Karate Circuit is more demanding of the competitors physically and mentally as they need to compete and perform their various disciplines multiple times at these traditional tournaments versus only once at Sport Karate Tournaments with sparring being the only exception.

In Sport Karate a competitor only has to present their weapons and open hand forms once.

In Traditional Karate a competitor has to present their weapons and open hand forms multiple times against multiple opponents as both competitors have to present their forms at the same time in the same ring. Five judges choose a winner by the way the form was executed and presented. What makes this even more difficult is that every time the competitor returns to the ring they must present a different from for the judges.

Think of the NCAA March Madness Bracket. Winners of each round continues on to the next match-up and as long as they win their round they will progress to the Championship Round. There is one exception. It is the Double Elimination Rule. Unlike the NCAA tournament where if you lose you are out and done, there is a second bracket where the non-victors of each round goes to compete for the Bronze Medal as long as they do not loose another round again. If they lose again, then they are out.

Jacey competed in back-to-back-to-back tournaments to prepare and qualify for the AAU U.S. Central Regional Championships in Chicago, IL.

Jacey first competed in the Kansas City Challenge Karate Championships where she won a 3rd Place in Traditional Weapons and a 1st in Traditional Open Hand Forms. The next weekend Jacey competed yin the Jefferson City Open Karate Championships where she earned a well deserved 1st Place in both Traditional Weapons and Traditional Open Hand Forms.

The next weekend Jacey found herself competing in Dupo, IL, at the Southern Illinois State Karate Championships and here won a Gold and Silver Medal for her efforts in her respective divisions.

Now feeling ready and having qualified for the big AAU Regional Championships Jacey, her family and Coach traveled to Grayslake, IL, just north of Chicago to compete the next weekend. Most of the Midwest States were represented and many of the Nation’s best karateka was at this event as hundreds of competitors and their families were here to compete and quality for a spot to the AAU National Championships and the Jr. Olympics.

Competition was tough and the judging was tougher. Many who had worked hard to get here unfortunately did not make it and have to try again next year. But not in the case of Jacey. She battled thru every round and survived near misses and close calls, but found herself in the final of each of her divisions and against the same competitor. Competition was very close and nerve wrecking but as close competition between very talented competitors goes, one gets the Gold and one must settle for the Silver for there can be no ties. Jacey missed Gold in both divisions by a hundredth of a point and came home with two Silver Medals, but qualified for the Jr. Olympics which was the goal that was set. Now more hard practice and long hours in training will get her ready for the Jr. Olympics.

Jacey and her family want to thank her sponsors for helping to make the trip to Regionals possible. Without your support and donations this would not have been possible. A Big Thank You goes out to Eagles Aerie #3770, Eagles Aerie #3770 Woman’s Auxiliary, Tanessa Hackelman at Element Beauty Lounge, Boat House Restaurant, York Trucking and Evans Drug.

Thank you for your continued support of Team VDK.


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