Monday, March 2, 2015

On March 28th, a Senior-Friendly Major Tournament

One of my favorite all-styles tournaments of the year is the Mercer County National Karate Championship, held every March at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  And to celebrate the event's 20th year, Master Ivan Mendez has put together an outstanding program that includes special touches for seniors. 
   Black belts 60 and over compete for free and will be able to contend for Grand Champion belts, cash prizes, and a special crystal trophy for the Outstanding Senior Athlete.  But no matter what your age, this is a tournament you should not miss if you live anywhere close to Central New Jersey.  Rider University is easily accessible from all N.J. points as well as Metro New York, Philly, and almost any location with access to I-95. 
   For more information, including a list of ring assignments by age and belt color -- yes, ring assignments posted nearly a month before the event! -- please click over to The Mercer County Nationals.
   In case you missed it, I'm reprinting below an earlier message about the Mercer County Nationals.  Hope to see you at this exciting and important event.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Senior black belts compete for free

You just ran out of excuses.  If you're a black belt and are at least 60 years old, you can compete for free in the 20th annual Mercer County National Karate Championship, to be held on Saturday, March 28th, at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J.  This is an outstanding event that offers a total of 145 separate divisions covering forms, weapons, and sparring.  And you should be part of it.
   While it seems that many, perhaps most, tournaments are pushing older athletes to the sidelines, Master Ivan Mendez is determined to make the Mercer County Nationals a comfortable home for the 60+ crowd.  And, yes, this is a really big deal. I'm 69, and I would like to compete well into my seventies.  But I have to say that the thrill of competing loses something when the top age group is, let's say, 35 or 40.  Competing against someone half your age just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
   Tournament director Mendez has been working hard for several years to attract seniors to the Mercer County Nationals.  His was one of the first tournaments in the area to raise the top age bracket to 60+, and his is the only tournament I know of that waives registration fees for black belt seniors.  "We're encouraging our most seasoned martial artists to come out, compete, and enjoy each other's fine talent," he says.

                            Above: some of the trophies awarded at the
                            Mercer County Nationals in recent years.

   By the way, a portion of the tournament proceeds will benefit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, widely known for its pioneering work in saving children with cancer and other catastrophic medical conditions.  Last year's tournament attracted nearly 450 competitors and 725 spectators, so this is an event that can do a lot of good for a fine charity while treating participants to a first-rate martial-arts experience.
   The Mercer County Nationals will feature competitors from a wide variety of styles, so whatever black belt you hold is your free ticket in, as long as you're at least 60 years old.  But it gets better.  The Ancient Warrior Society, an organization that honors an elite group of Taekwondo masters and grandmasters over the age of 50, will be providing an impressive crystal trophy to the 60+ athlete who is voted Outstanding Senior Athlete by the tournament's staff.
   If you're 60+ and still competing, circle the date and find your way to Rider University for this important tournament.  But what if you've already stopped competing because you got tired of being matched with 30-year-olds in every tournament you attended?  Well, you have three months to work on your technique, and that's plenty of time for a veteran black belt.  Ease back into training, and by the end of March you'll be ready to show your stuff against other athletes your age.
   Have questions about the event?  You can post them here, if you'd like, or you can contact Master Mendez directly at  But whatever you do, plan to attend!

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Many thanks for sharing your comments with Seniors in the Martial Arts. Best wishes for continued success with your training.