PROVING HE’S THE BEST: Patel wins back-to-back Grand Championships

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 30, 2017

Andalusia Isshinryu Karate student Taj Patel recently competed in the IIKA Middle Tennessee Isshinryu Open Karate Games in Watertown, Tenn., where he won the 2017 Youth Black Belt Grand Championship.

“Overall, it was a really good tournament and I had good time,” Patel said. “Everyone had a great sportsmanship and that’s always good. We got to see a Civil War battlefield and the Stone River National Cemetery. It was also the area where the Trail of Tears started.”

Patel battled against three other Youth Black Belt winners for the grand championship.

This is the second year in a row that Patel has won the Youth Black Belt Grand Championship.

“It was a pretty good feeling and it was very satisfying,” Patel said. “I knew that I could do it because of Mr. (Mark) Rudd. He has taught me well and always provides encouragement. I’ve always wanted to win one of these and last year I did, but Mr. Rudd wasn’t there. This year when I won, he was there to see it.”

At just 12 years old, Patel is one of the younger competitors in the Youth Black Belt Grand Championship. The event pitted Patel against the top black belts up to 17 years old.

“I was the youngest one competing,” Patel says. “I wasn’t really intimidated because I’m used to going up against the older guys.”

A Youth Grand Champion is determined by putting the winner of each individual black belt divisions and letting them compete for an overall winner of grand champion.

Patel said that he wouldn’t mind going for a three-peat next year, but he said he will be OK with any outcome.

“Hopefully, I can win another one, but it will be harder since I won this year,” Patel said. “You never know what can happen, though. I will be happy either way. It’s like Mr. Rudd always tells us, ‘If you lose, you walk out with a smile on your face, and if you win, you walk out with a smile on your face.’”

In 2015, Patel finished second in the Grand Championship.

Patel also finished first in his age group for youth black belt kata and weapons. He finished second in fighting.

Kila Owens also had a strong showing in the tournament for Andalusia Isshinryu Karate.

Owens picked up first place finishes in the women’s black belt weapons, kata and fighting.

Owens and Patel are students of Mark Rudd’s at Andalusia Isshinryu Karate.

Next up, Patel and a few other members will compete in the Isshinryu Hall of Fame Tournament in Gatlinburg on July 21-22.

The first night will be the Hall of Fame banquet with awards being handed out to top competitors worldwide.

Patel has been nominated for Junior Competitor of the Year and Young Male Karate Kata.

Rudd has been nominated for Instructor of the Year.

The next day the competitors will compete in the Isshinryu Hall of Fame Tournament.

The tournament and banquet include dojos and competitors from all over the world.