On June 28th – 30th, 18 athletes along with their families and coach ventured into the of heat competition at the AAU Karate National Championships to compete among America’s best karate athletes within the Amateur Athletic Union. The AAU was founded in 1888 in the USA and is among the oldest sporting organization in the hemisphere. It was, at one point, the representative of the Olympics for its country until the USOC was created. Since then, the AAU has been an athlete development program representing athletes within the school system nationally.
As a development program, AAU Karate has the liberty to have overseas athletes attend their national program for an inclusive and international event which means a greater competition base for the athletes. Countries like Romania and Serbia were also a part of the competition for 2018.
Team Meibukan’s athletes for 2018 is made up of beginner white belts to expert black belts from 7 to 54 years old. As with each and every year, our athletes challenge themselves to become the best that they can possibly be for that day. Fighting injuries, nerves, fear, fevers, and exhaustion, come with the territory of an elite level competition. Also however, so does meeting new friends, reaching new levels, creating healthy bonds, learning how to deal with challenges, learning how to support each other through difficult times. Because of this, there are no losers on Team Meibukan.
This year, our 18 athletes returned with 26 medals. The medal list is as follows:
- Kayla Jackson – Silver Kobudo/Gold Kata/Gold Kumite
- Kai Lin – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata/Gold Kumite
- Zachary Chin – Gold Kobudo/Gold Kata
- Lara Kwaipun – Gold Kobudo/Gold Kata
- Daniel Kwaipun – Gold Kata/Silver Kumite
- Cassidy Truong – Silver Kobudo/Gold Kata
- Cadence Truong – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata
- Joanne Tran – Gold Kobudo/Bronze Kata
- Stan Yamashita – Silver Kata/Bronze Kumite
- Erica Chin – Gold Kobudo
- Koa Yamashita – Silver Kata
- Michaella Co – Bronze Kumite
- Tiago Piesz – Bronze Kumite
- Ryan Koo – Bronze Kobudo
- Ethan Co – Bronze Kata
The success of the team is often measured by podium finishes but those of us who compete understand that the value of intangibles far outweigh any podium placement in a healthy competitive environment which the AAU is continually emphasizing. Parents and family members pitched in to help with the myriad of logistics. Brenna Lin, Tyler Lin, Kai Lin, Daniel Kwaipun, and Ethan Co did double duty as both competitors and assistant coaches. Parents came together to create positive experiences for the athletes. Stephanie Chin was clearly the backbone as she seemed to be always one step ahead of us. Knowing which athlete was next, and readying all the paperwork. Rob Chin and Elaine Truong spent hours organizing and picking up all team dinners. Darryl Jackson lugged all of the team’s bulky luggage to and from Florida. Tyler Quick who always had his focus mitts ready to go whenever the athletes need it. Mary Lin and Rachel Lam who always seemed to carry their TARDIS of a purse which had everything from needle and thread to first aid equipment. Stan Yamashita who created the team’s wonderful video and acted and as photographer. Of course, Joe, Kenneth, Jimmy, Bryan, Tracey, Ardell, Helen, and Charlene were of remarkable support who made sure everything went without a hitch.