Local karate school boasts three national champs | PostIndependent.com

Local karate school boasts three national champs

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Contributed photoJames Lee's Karate students pose with their nationals hardware. Pictured, from left to right, are: back row - Sensei Jeff Kennedy, Grace Nilsson, Maia Goel, Kaylie Ortiz, Kristen Ortiz, Emily Nilsson and Sensei John Readle; front row - Gavin Radtke, Dylan Uren, Gabe Hale, Mitchell Ortiz and Josh Bambic. Not pictured: Logan Radtke, Noah Hefferon, Dean Sarver and Chris Hale.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Facing a girl four inches taller than her didn’t faze 12-year-old James Lee’s Karate student Grace Nilsson. The blue belt prevailed in her finals match anyway, taking home a sparring title from the March 24-27 United States Karate Alliance 2011 Nationals Tournament.

Nilsson joined her 8-year-old sister, Emily, and Chris Hale as James Lee’s Karate’s three national champs.

“We were pretty proud,” said Jeff Kennedy, sensei and owner of the James Lee school in Glenwood Springs. “We have a big school over in Eagle, so we’re kind of getting our own chops now.”

Emily Nilsson won her national championship in kata (forms), executing a near-flawless routine dubbed Kuk Mu VI.

“You pretty much just block, punch and kick and have stances,” Emily said of kata competition.

Added Kennedy: “You’re judged on how well the moves look.”

Sparring, Grace’s event, features points-based bouts.

“It’s when you have two people in the ring and you basically have to hit each other to get points,” she said.

Grace worked her way through a round-robin bracket to her title.

Hale, an adult competitor, landed titles in both kata and sparring at the Albuquerque, N.M., event.

Kennedy’s students also delivered numerous second-place finishes.

Gabe Hale (kata and sparring), Logan Radtke (sparring), Kristen Ortiz (kata and sparring), Dean Sarver (kata), Gavin Radtke (chanbara, which is sword fighting), Mitchell Ortiz (chanbara) and Noah Hefferon (chanbara) all finished as runners-up in Albuquerque.


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