On Saturday, September 26, over 100 karate-ka participated in the 7th annual Kyu Fest tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina. Competitors represented dojos from all over the southeastern United States, including North and South Carolinas and Tennessee. The competition, sponsored by Grand Master Mitch Kobylanski and United Southern Isshinryu Karate (USIK), included basics, kata, kobudo, and kumite.  Over 50 black belts in attendance participated as judges and ring facilitators with great efficiency; indeed, USIK is proud to host this event as a training session for the future generations of leadership of the organization. Through this tournament, black belts throughout the region are able to hone their skills in judging kata and refereeing sparring matches. Additionally, black belts are educated in the finer points of tournament organization, including effective division creation and keeping timing on track; this year’s event began promptly at 11:00am and was completed by early afternoon. KyuFest is often lauded for the efficiency exhibited by its administration, meaning that there is generally very little downtime for younger competitors to grow restless in between events. Eight masters were in attendance as coordinators along with Grand Master Kobylanski, maintaining the timeline and helping to create the atmosphere of  the spirit of respectful competition.


Black Belt Officiants, courtesy of Tiffany Crusenberry of Memories-n-Motion Photography


Charleston Isshinryu karate was well-represented with four competitors, five black belts, and a brown belt also assisting operations. In addition, Lowcountry Karate sent seven competitors, almost all returning from last year. Each of the eleven students performed very well, occasionally winning all trophied places (1st through 4th) in a single division. Charleston Isshinryu is proud to be a USIK affiliate dojo, and to support tournaments of the highest quality. The Sensei and instructors of Charleston Isshinryu and of Lowcountry Karate are proud of all of our students, and we look forward to a strong showing again in 2016! Carolina Isshinryu Academy in Monroe, North Carolina also had a stellar day; their many competitors bringing home a variety of trophies and medals for their efforts as well! Carolina Isshinryu Academy in Monroe is under the tutelage of Sensei Don Gyr and Sensei Justin Serpico. USIK arranges the tournament such that as many competitors as possible are recognized for their hard work and effort, keeping divisions small and students encouraged by the close attention of their judges. This Isshinryu-only competition runs every September, and is a fantastic training ground for competitors and black belt judges alike.



Charleston Isshinryu and Lowcountry Karate with their winnings, courtesy of Tiffany Crusenberry of Memories-n-Motion Photography


Carolina Isshinryu Academy in Monroe, North Carolina with their winnings, courtesy of Sensei Don Gyr


If you have any questions about the tournament or its affiliations, please feel free to reach out to us. Charleston Isshinryu can be found online at www.charlestonisshinryu.com, and USIK can be found at www.usik.org. You can also contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.



-Submitted by Carin Bloom, Charleston Isshinryu