The Star-Herald

Graves’ 27th annual martial arts tourney set for Saturday

MARS HILL, Maine — Aroostook County’s longest running karate and jiu-jitsu tournament celebrates its 27th anniversary this Saturday at the Central Aroostook Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.

Martial artists representing several styles and traveling from throughout New England and Canada will meet to compete in Graves’ Summer Kick-Off Karate and Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Head Instructor, Grand Master Bill Graves, the black belts and students of all nine branches of Graves’ Institute of Self Defense are hosting the event. This is the only tourney north of Bangor and one of only seven through the entire state each year, three of which are put on by the Maine Ketsugo and Karate Association, of which Graves Institute of Self Defense belongs.

Grand Master Bill Graves, center, congratulates Senseis Dustin and Dylan Coty, twin brothers from Caribou, who won the Grand Championship in Jiu Jitsu at last years Graves’ Summer Kick-off Karate and Ju Jitsu Tournament. They will try to repeat at Saturday’s competition to be held in Mars Hill. (Tomi Henderson)

Martial arts students ranging in age from 5 to over 60 will compete in a variety of bouts — point sparring, form kata, weapons kata, jiu-jitsu throwing and falling, and power impactor events. To assure fairness and top-rate competition, divisions will be set up by age, gender, height, weight and skill levels, which is determined by belt colors and stripes. More than 200 trophies and 100 medals will be awarded to the top three winners in dozens of divisions. One head judge and four referees, all black belts, will oversee each of the eight rings to insure safety, fairness and enforce the guidelines for all competitors.

In addition to regular underbelt matches, top black belt fighters and throwers have the opportunity to compete for several huge grand championship awards. The final winners in each event will take home a much coveted, multi-tiered and ornately decorated 4-1/2 foot tall trophy. These awards are sponsored by local businesses, without whose support the trophies would not be available.

York’s of Houlton has been an annual sponsor since the first tournament. Other multi-year sponsors include Island Falls attorney Patrick Hunt, TD Bank, Falcon Transportation of Presque Isle, TWB Speech and Burtchell Trucking of Mars Hill, Machias Savings Bank, Roy’s Auto of Fort Kent and Mars Hill IGA.

Black Belt grands include men’s fighting, women’s fighting, senior men’s fighting, executive men’s fighting, jiu-jitsu team throwing (2 trophies), form kata and weapons kata.

Martial arts tournaments are exciting events for spectators as well as participants as six to eight competition rings are underway at the same time. A chief referee and four corner judges oversee each ring, taking care of scoring, trophy presentations and explanation of events to spectators. As soon as one division finishes, another set of competitors are called up to compete so the action remains non-stop.

One of the most exciting and entertaining events of the day is always the jiu-jitsu competition. Pairs of martial artists of the same belt levels perform routines they have created to imitate an attack and a self defense situation that might occur on the street. Each member of the duo executes three throws in random order and a panel of five judges score the pair on attitude, precision, difficulty and effectiveness. While all belt levels are highly competitive, the black belt division vying for the pair of grand championship trophies remains the highlight of the event.

Doors at the gym will open at 9 a.m. for competitors and at 9:30 a.m. for spectators with  tournament events beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Concessions will be available on site throughout the day, with the tournament expected to finish by 3 p.m. Check Graves Institute of Self Defense on Facebook for photos, videos and pre-tourney information or call Grandmaster Bill Graves at 207-551-5777 for more info.

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