Water Mill residents should watch out. There is a karate kid among them.
Mickey Brown, a 9-year-old Water Mill resident, won a silver medal in kata and kumite, or sparring and form division, at the 52nd annual U.S. American Amateur Karate Federation (AAKF) National Karate Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, which was held from June 19 to 22. It was the second time Brown took home a medal, having won gold two years ago.
Brown has been part of the Southampton Youth Services karate program since just before he turned 4 years old. He was at SYS for something else when he saw a karate class going on and told his mother, Lara, he wanted to try it out. What Ms. Brown thought was going to be a simple, weeklong tryout for her son has turned into a passion. He is the youngest black belt in the program at SYS, having received his this past December.
“It was really fun competing,” in the championship, he said. “It was pretty tough but it was lots of fun.”
Brown said his favorite part of karate is learning new katas, or forms. He has been under the tutelage of senseis Helene Ely, a 4th-degree black belt, and Falah Kanani, a 6th-degree black belt. Ely, who has been at SYS since 2004, has been with him since the start, while Kanani joined the program last year and has been a great addition, according to Ely.
At the National Championship, Brown, who is going into the fourth grade at Southampton Elementary School this fall, had to compete against six others in his group, some being a foot taller and three to four years older. The group’s members had to compete against one another in sparring and then had to show their forms, which is where a person will demonstrate a sequence of moves alone. Ely said it’s an extremely difficult format, since each member in the group has about 50 rounds of both sparring and forms.
Brown had two katas to show in: enti and jion, which are both black belt kata. Enti involves more jumping, while jion is a ground-based form.
“You have to have tremendous focus and balance, which Mickey has,” Ely said. “The end product of every technique has to be strong. All of your energy has to go into technique, and balance is super important. You have to stay focused throughout the whole thing.”
Ms. Brown explained that the mental part had to be just as hard as the physical part of the tournament for her son. The family flew into St. Louis on a Thursday, knowing that Mickey’s group wouldn’t be starting until Friday night. But because the program fell behind, Mickey didn’t start until Saturday morning.
Brown’s success has qualified him for the Pan-American Championships in Argentina in November and the World Championships in Egypt in 2014. Ely said Brown will need to get sponsored and fund-raise to reach both prestigious championships, though, and is hoping to get help from the public.
SYS adult karate members Steven Duffy of Southampton and Ernesto Rodriguez of Westhampton also traveled to the tournament in St. Louis and won a silver medal in the man/man ebu, or team event. Ely placed fourth with Rodriguez in the man/woman ebu. All three members, under the training of Sensei Kanani, represented the New York State team and the AAKF North Atlantic region and also qualified for the World Championships.
Anyone interested in sponsoring members of the SYS karate program in the Pan-American or World Championships can contact SYS at 631-287-1511.