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Black belts shine at tournament

Black belts kicked their way to new heights at the 2003 Southern States Open Martial Arts Championships earlier this month in Andalusia.

The 2003 Southern States Open Martial Arts Championships was held at the Andalusia Elementary School Gymnasium on June 15.

Approximately 150 competitors, representing more than 20 karate schools from a six-state area, competed in this year's event.

The tournament is sanctioned by the United States Yoshukai Karate Association tournament circuit. It is the third tourney on the 2003 schedule.

According to tournament directors Steve and Karin Pierce of Opp and Mark Rudd of Andalusia, the tournament was a great success.

The tournament was sponsored by Andalusia Leisure Services and this was the fifth year Andalusia has hosted the event.

Four Black Belt Grand Championships were awarded at the event. The Grand Champion is determined by having the winners of the regular black belt divisions compete against each other to determine an overall winner.

The 2003 Black Belt Grand Champion winners were: Adult Black Belt Kata/Weapons winner David Koda of Montgomery; Youth Black Belt Kata/Weapons winner Phillip Mesiner of Niceville, Fla.; Men's Black Belt Fighting winner Jim Grassiano of Montgomery; and Women's Black Belt Fighting winner Jennifer Azzamm of Montgomery.

Winners of the regular black belt divisions were:

Adult black belt kata winner Shinji Madsuda of Louisville, Ky.;

Adult black belt weapons winner David Koda of Montgomery;

Senior black belt kata (age 35-42) winner Donald Rudd of Quitman, La.;

Senior black belt weapons (age 35-42) winner Donald Rudd of Quitman, La;

Executive black belt kata (age 43&up) winner Don Roberts of Atlanta, Ga.;

Executive black belt weapons (age 43&up) winner Don Roberts of Atlanta, Ga.;

Women's black belt kata winner Jennifer Azzamm of Montgomery;

Women's black belt weapons winner Jennifer Azzamm of Montgomery;

Women's black belt fighting (age 18-34) winner Jennifer Azzamm of Montgomery;

Women's Senior black belt fighting (age 35&up) winner Holly Miller of Montgomery;

Adult black belt fighting (age 18-34) of lightweight winner Abia Williams of Opp;

Adult black belt fighting (age 18-34), heavyweight winner Michael Duhurst of Tallahassee, Fla.;

Adult black belt fighting (age 35-42) winner Jim Grassiano of Montgomery; and

Adult black belt fighting (age 43&up) winner Jackie Taylor of Huntsville.