U.S. Karate Alliance Holds Nationals in ABQ For First Time in Six Years
For the first time in six years, the U.S. Karate Alliance Nationals is being held in Albuquerque, where it first began. Two returning black belt grand champions will meet other fighters in the ring March 24.
Adrian Galvan, 32, and Jenna Brown, 23, both based in Texas, are the defending USKA grand champions. Galvan started training at his father’s martial arts school when he was three years old and began teaching when he was 13.
Brown was one of his students when she started training at 10. Galvan said ever since Brown was a child, she was tougher than her older brother who also did karate.
“She’s tiny, but she can kick above her head. She’s fast,” USKA Director Cathy Davis said about Brown, noting that she weighs less than 100 pounds.
Anna Gorman, a former USKA national grand champion, fought Brown last year in a different tournament in Phoenix. She said she trained for six years to beat Brown, fighting her five times before she won. She beat Brown twice, most recently in August 2016.
“She sits and waits for her opponent to attack her and she counters them,” Gorman said.
Former weapons grand champion Steve Flores fought Galvan at the California State Championships in sparring. Galvan beat Flores by one point in overtime after the two tied.
“He is fast like a cat and knows how to play the ring,” Flores said. “It was probably one of his signature hook kicks to the head,” he said.
Flores is friends with Galvan and has known him since he was a child. “At the end of a football game, players cross the field and shake hands. Just like in any sport, you establish a friendship and relationship with your competitors” Flores said.
“Your friendship is on hold when you’re in the ring,” Galvan said.
Galvan is expecting to face strong competition at the USKA tournament. “We have a target on our backs. People are gunning to beat us because we’ve defended our title there for numerous years,” he said.
Brown and Galvan are members of Team USA Karate, the only karate organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Being on Team USA may qualify Brown and Galvan to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
350 to 500 other martial arts fighters ages five to over 60 years old from around the nation compete in the USKA Nationals. Fighters of different ranks and levels who placed first through fourth in a state or regional tournament are qualified to compete. They battle in a variety of styles from Japanese to Korean forms and from tae kwon
do to kung fu. The two-day event is at Marriot Pyramid North March 23 and 24. The finals are from 7 to 10 p.m. March 24.