Written by Amanda Davis, staff writer
MANCHESTER, Tenn.–On Saturday, Sept. 25, the Bryan College Martial Arts Academy participated in the International Isshinryu Karate Association Nationals (IIKA) located in Manchester, Tenn. The team excelled through the day, led by David Holcomb, the Vice President of Advancement and Athletics. Holcomb, the Martial Arts Academy overseer and a sixth-degree black belt, won the Chief Instructive Championship for Weapons Kata after not competing for fifteen years. The Bryan team won both Grand Kata Championships for Men and Women, won by Zachary Barnes and Laura Neff. Camille Holley won first place in the women’s middleweight black belt Kata division, and Seth Hill placed first in black belt Kumite and Weapons Kata.
The IIKA Nationals is the first tournament the martial arts academy has participated in since COVID first appeared in 2020. They spent the day competing in various forms of Kata (forms), Kumite (sparring), and in the evening attending the IIKA Award Banquet.
Bryan also won several other noteworthy awards: Jeremiah Fears, Andrew Candiotes, and Samuel McKelvey taking first, second, and third in the men’s advanced Kumite division. During the banquet, Bryan College won the Best Dojo of the Year, Camille Holley won the IIKA Spirit Award, Laura Neff won the Female Karate-Ka Award, and Daniel Koehn won the Male Karate-Ka Award.
Zachary Barnes, a third-degree black belt and the official leader for the Martial Arts team, is very proud of how the team performed on Saturday, “I’m really impressed with the heart of the team.”
Holcomb said, “I am proud of the students, not just because we were extremely competitive and successful in that it was the behavior and the interaction and the comradery and the way they interacted. It has been my dream that Bryan College would be an example of how to integrate high-level competition and excellence in that area with high-level respect for people.”
Jeremiah Fears, a brown belt and a junior at Bryan, said about the competition, “It’s great to be friends with people that you also get to have such a high level of competitiveness with.” Overall, the Bryan College Martial Arts Academy had a strong showing at its first tournament since 2019.
Amanda Davis is a freshman communications major at Bryan College. She is a Kansas City Native and loves reading, writing, and photography.