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Karate Tournament Packs gym
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Barefoot and clad in the white tunics and colored belts of martial arts exponents, an estimated 80- to 100 students from several clubs participated in a karate tournament in Riverbank on Saturday, June18.

Hosted at the Cardozo Community Gym by the Riverbank Karate for Kids school, the tourney attracted almost as many parents and spectators from the participating clubs in Turlock, Ceres, Manteca, Modesto and Riverbank. The Riverbank school had 24 students entered.

"As I tell all the kids, you can either lie around and watch TV on a Saturday or come out here, have fun and make friends," said Scott Pettit, who owns the Riverbank and several other karate schools.

Pettit's school and the other clubs teach the South Korean type of karate called taekwondo and belong to the American Taekwondo Association.

Known as "the way of the hand and foot," this form of martial arts uses more kicking and aerial techniques than Japanese karat,e or Chinese kung fu. While it was developed in Korea centuries ago by the military, it was formalized as a sport only in the 1960s.

The Saturday tournament was a preparation for a large regional taekwondo competition to be conducted in Sacramento in July.

Ranging in age from three to adult, contestants wore padded helmets for safety when sparring. But Saturday's tournament also featured demonstrations of "forms" by students, some weapons exhibitions by black belt instructors and board breaking.

Forms require a student to memorize a series of moves and execute them in the correct order with the proper timing and focus while judges watch and allocate points.

All the children under 12 received a trophy, whether they won or lost their sparring contest, Pettit noted. The trophy is awarded for perseverance.

"Young kids don't accept defeat very well," he added. This is to show them they were not defeated. They won just by coming out and trying."