Seven local martial artists will represent the United States at the WKU World Championships competition in Orlando, Florida in late August. The group, which includes instructors and students, are all part of Amba Martial Arts and will compete on the WKU Team USA.
Six of the seven competitors earned their spot on the national team by earning a medal in black belt divisions at the WKU USA Team Trials in Evansville, Indiana, on June 4-5, 2021. There, they competed against individuals from 15 other states. Martin Amba, owner and head instructor of Amba Martial Arts, said that despite all of the students competing as black belts, only three—MJ Amba, Kennedy Cartagena, and Cole Brandon—actually had black belts.
This year’s competition will be the second time MJ Amba will participate in the WKU World Championships. He earned a spot in 2019 when the competition was in Bregenz, Austria.
Amba added that the win was bittersweet. The team dedicated their participation in the team trials to Amba’s wife, black belt instructor Joji Amba, who is battling various cancers.
“Not many competitors in any sport get the opportunity to represent their country,” Amba said. “We’re extremely proud to have our instructors and students earn their spots on WKU Team USA and represent the USA. Knowing that they were also competing on behalf of my wife made it even more special.”
The local members of the WKU Team USA, along with their national trials results, are:
- MJ Amba: Gold Medal, Men’s Point Fighting -75kg
- Kennedy Cartagena: Gold Medal, Men’s Point Fighting +90kg
- Cole Brandon:Gold Medal, Boys 15-17 Light Continuous Fighting +75 kg, Gold Medal, Boys 15-17 Point Fighting +75 kg
- Oscar Rios: Bronze Medal, Boys 15-17 Light Continuous Fighting +75 kg, Bronze Medal, Boys 15-17 Point Fighting +75 kg
- Jayden Cartagena: Gold Medal Boys 13-14 Light Continuous Point Fighting -60kg, Gold Medal Boys 13-14 Point Fighting -60 kg
- Jaden Axe: Silver Medal Girls -12, Point Fighting +50kg, Gold Medal -12, Traditional Karate Kata
- Jaasai Villa: Did not make the medal round, but was later added to the team due to space availability. Boys 15-17 Point Fighting -75kg
The team is now fundraising to send all seven competitors to the World Championship in Orlando from Aug. 28 -Sept. 2, including for team uniforms, gear and travel costs. For information, contact Martin Amba at [email protected] or 775-223-8282.
Source: Amba Martial Arts