Daniel Costello of Pearl River took up martial arts when he was three, but he will face a new challenge next week.
The 12-year-old student at Mac Albus Shukokai Karate in Pearl River will get his first taste of international competition in the Kimura Shukokai International World Tournament July 10-12 in the Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
"This is my first world tournament," Costello said. "I'm really excited. I'm ready. I'm pumped. We compete with people all over the world."
Costello will have plenty of company. He is one of 27 students from the Pearl River karate center who will participate in the tournament. Sensei Mac Albus and Sensei Mokhtar Chaoui will make the trip along with parents who will act as volunteers at the tournament.
"You are competing with such a (high) caliber of people," said Ann Marshall, 22, of Riverdale, NJ, who last competed in the world tournament in 2006. "They are bringing only their best. That's why it is great to be hosting this because so many more of the younger kids get to experience this.
"It's intense. You get to see the best in the world and be compared to them. Then you get to see these amazing people and you're one of them. It's an amazing opportunity."
Albus said his students gain two major benefits from tournaments such as this one, which is held every two years.
"Learning how to set a goal and working toward that goal, the goal being competing in the tournament," Albus said. "The second thing is, they are open to all these international people and that expands their horizons as far as meeting people. Most of the veterans have friends from other countries. What happens is after the tournament, there is a celebration party. Everybody is hanging out together. You fought the person in the afternoon and you hang out with them at night."
Joseph Hayes, 12, of Pearl River is also competing in the world tournament for the first time.
"I'm excited, but I'm also really nervous," Hayes said. "You have the chance to have the chant of 'USA' behind you. You get pumped up and ready to go. So excited."
Danny Piatagorski, 13, of Montvale also said he was a little nervous.
"I hope I do well," Piatagorski said. "I think I'm going to do well, but there are a lot of people."
"Really, the biggest thing they have to do is not get nervous," said Brian Piatagorski, 16, of Montvale, who finished second in individual kata in Switzerland four years ago and second in team kata in Portugal two years ago. "If you can keep your nerves under control, that's the best thing you can do for yourself. It's a great experience because you go around meeting people from other countries."
Billy Mullern, 17, of West Nyack also competed in Switzerland and Portugal.
"I feel like this time I'm more prepared," Mullern said. "I know what to expect now. I know exactly what is going to go on. You get there and meet people from all the way around the world. You get nervous sometimes, but it is also an interesting experience. It's fun meeting all of these people.
The American Shukokai Karate Union (ASKU) is hosting this year's event, which will include 500 black belts from 20 member nations. There is a world tournament every two years, with the host nation chosen by lottery.
"We are honored to host this prestigious event here in the United States," said Shihan Bill Bressaw, chief instructor and 8th Dan of the American Shukokai Karate Union. "The very first KSI World Tournament was held here in the USA in 1981 and has been hosted by a member country every two years since. It's a bit of a homecoming to have the event held here again and we look forward to competing in Atlantic City."
Aidan Anselmi, 14, of Pearl River competed in the last tournament two years ago in Portugal, but is looking forward to having the event close to home.
"We have a little bit of home-field advantage, but it won't do that much," Anselmi said.
"It's really great that it's here this year," said Brian Piatigorski, 16, of Montvale, NJ. "You don't have to worry about flying somewhere else. There is no jet lag. You can just go down there, be fresh for the tournament."
It also allows the United States to bring a much larger contingent, over 110 of the 500 competitors.
They will take part in an event sponsored by governing body Kimura Shukokai International (KSI), which represents over 20 nations and 20,000 students.
Teams will arrive July 8 and there will be weigh-ins and training sessions July 9. The competition begins with two days of elimination rounds July 10 and 11 and the finals July 12.
There will be two types of competition. One is kumite, which is free sparring in which points are awarded based on speed, accuracy and power of punches and kicks in a controlled fight. The other is kata, which is a demonstration Shukokai technique. There are individual and team kumite and kata competitions. Team kata is a synchronized event, usually with three competitors. Team kumite has groups of at least three, but it can be more.
Divisions are based on age, gender and weight. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in each class.
Tickets are available at the door and cost $15 per day for adults and $8 per day for children under 14. Family passes are available for groups of up to four at $25 per day.
For more information on the world tournament, go to www.shukokaikarate.com. There will also be a live twitter feed from the event, @asku1984.
Editor's Note: Anyone making the trip with Mac Albus Shukokai Karate Center can share pictures on Patch. Please upload them to this report. With any questions, email Ryan Buncher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mac Albus Shukokai contingent to the World Tournament
- Sensei Mac Albus
- Sensei Mokhtar Chaoui (Sensei Mo)
- Eric Aristizabel, Pearl River
- Mark Anselmi, Pearl River
- Aidan Anselmi, Pearl River
- Adam Braff, New Jersey
- Daniel Costello, Pearl River
- Eric Chanin, Pearl River
- Malcolm Dell
- Danny Dwyer, Nanuet
- Ryan Dwyer, Nanuet
- Michael Dua, Pearl River
- Christine Hurley, Pearl River
- Joseph Hayes, Nanuet
- Alison Hayes, Nanuet
- Gerry Lowney, Pearl River
- Brian Lynn, Pearl River
- Kevin Lynn, Pearl River
- Billy Muller, West Nyack
- Denis Muller, West Nyack
- Ann Marshall, Riverdale, NJ
- Kelly McHugh, Pearl River
- Oliveros Esteban, Pearl River
- Brian Piatagorski, Montvale, NJ
- Daniel Piatagorski, Montvale, NJ
- Brian Purvis, Nanuet
- Evan Pleasic, New Jersey
- Viny, Srinivasa, Pearl River
- Joe Porco, Nanuet