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KARATE KID STRIKES AGAIN: Straughn’s Patel earns Grand Championship

Straughn’s Taj Patel recently earned a Grand Championship at the Middle Tennessee Isshinryu Open Karate Games in Watertown, Tenn.

It’s been a big summer for Patel, who not only competed in the National Spelling Bee, but won a karate Grand Championship on his way to the Bee.

Now Patel has picked up his second Grand Championship of the summer and now has more than 10 overall.

“It’s kind of mix of planning it and it just popped up a week or two before we were leaving,” Patel said of winning a Grand on the way to compete in the National Spelling Bee. “My dad said there was tournament on the way up and asked me if I wanted to go. I said, ‘Sure, why not.’ Just make the most out of it.”

Patel talked about what goes into winning a Grand Championship.

“You have different divisions,” Patel said. “Let’s say you are in the weapons division and you win first place in that, then automatically go into the Grand Championship. Pretty much all the first place winners go into this big pile for weapons and kata and they do a Grand Champion out of that. Some are black belts only and some are just straight youth so, it just depends. There were 11 that I went against this time around.”

Next up, Patel will compete in the Isshinryu Hall of Fame tournament in Gatlinburg.

Patel said his is thankful for his instructor and his parents for giving him these opportunities.

“I’d like to thank Mr. (Mark) Rudd for everything he has done throughout the years,” Patel said. “He is always there to answer any questions that I have to ask. I would also like to think my parents for all they have done and taking me all these places to compete.”

Over his years in karate, Patel said that he has competed in seven different states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and Louisiana.

When he isn’t winning karate Grand Championships or spelling bees, Patel said he has just been enjoying his summer.

“It’s been a good summer,” Patel said. “I’ve been studying and getting ready for high school.”