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Strong showing at South Alabama open

The 20th annual South Alabama Karate Open had a big turnout recently at the Straughn High School gym.

Mark Rudd and Andalusia Isshinryu Karate host the tournament each summer at Straughn.

Rudd said that this year was the largest turnout in several years.

There were competitors from 19 dojos representing 11 different styles of martial arts.

Rudd said that gym was packed tightly all day with more than 300 spectators cheering on the competitors.

A number of distinguished instructors from a seven state area were present, Rudd said.

One such guest was sensei Ed Johnson who is a 10th dan in Isshinryu from Fort Worth.

Johnson began training in Okinawa in 1959 under Isshinryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku.

In the tournament, Cotton Sherrer from Enterprise won the young kata black belt grand championship. April Bickhaus from Prattville won the adult kata black belt grand champion.

Rachel Pridgen of Opp won the women’s fighting black belt grand championship. Tony Williams of Lebanon, Tenn., won the men’s fighting black belt grand championship.