NOTHING LITTLE ABOUT IT: Taj Patel honored with Grand Championship

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Andalusia Isshinryu Karate’s Taj Patel captured his first Grand Championship at a recent competition in Tennessee.

Taj began taking karate classes when he was five years old after his father took him to class.

“My dad took me to a class and after it was over he asked if it would be something I would be interested in doing and I wanted to,” Taj said. “I was little back then and it made me feel like I was going to be a super hero.”

Winning the Grand Championship has been something that Taj has been working and training hard for a long time.

Taj Patel with his Grand Champion Trophy.

Taj Patel with his Grand Champion Trophy.

“I just said, ‘Yes, all the hard work finally paid off,’” Taj said after finding out he won the Grand Championship.

Last year, Taj finished second in for the Grand Championship.

“He finished second last year and was really close to winning,” Taj’s father Neil Patel said. “We knew that he if continued to work on it that he could get it.”

Winning a Youth Grand Championship is no easy feat, especially for younger black belts. At just 11 years old, Taj was competing with against black belts up to 17 years old.

“A Youth Grand Champion is determined by putting the winner of each individual black belt forms division (usually between six and eight division winners) and letting them compete for an overall winner of grand champion,” Andalusia Isshinryu Karate Sensei Mark Rudd said. “Taj has been in the pool of winners on several occasions, but this is the first one that he has won.”

Rudd also said that Taj is an extremely dedicated competitor.

“He is a first-degree black belt and is a very dedicated and hard-working student,” Rudd said. “He has tremendous work ethic, especially for a boy his age, and he is an outstanding competitor. He has tremendous leadership skills, and represents our dojo well everywhere he goes.”

Winning a grand championship is something that Taj has wanted to do since he started doing karate at the age of five.

“He has been saying since he was little that he wanted to win it,” Neil said. “There are a lot of black belts that will go their entire careers without winning a grand championship.”

With the win, Taj said he knows that more hard work still must be put in.

“I’ve got to continue to improve,” Taj said. “They will all be set on beating me next year.”

To win a grand championship, one can’t just be good at a single event, they must be nearly perfect in all of them.

“He wants to be good at all them,” Neil said. “I think that is what sets him a part. He really works hard on everything he competes in.”

Along with winning the Grand Championship, Taj has also been nominated as a finalist for two prestigious awards, Young Male Karate-ka and Young Male Competitor of the Year.

“Taj is also a finalist for Young Male Karate-ka and Young Male Competitor of the Year,” Rudd said. “There are five finalist selected from nominations sent in worldwide each year, and the winners are announced at the Isshinryu Hall of Fame banquet in Gatlinburg, Tenn., in July. To be selected as a finalist is a pretty prestigious honor, and to win, even more.”

Taj previously won Young Male Competitor of the Year in 2014, and has been nominated as a finalist for Young Male Karata-ka for fives years in a row.