Local martial arts students show big at state competition
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Three students from the Family Connection Martial Arts School in Copperas Cove had the chance to compete at the state level on Dec. 14-15 in Galveston at the Texas Amateur Organization of Karate’s state championships.
Family Connection practice and competes year round, said instructor Tony Acosta. “All year long, the students earn points at competitions in San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas, and usually the top five in each age group in the region qualify to compete at state.”
This year, Acosta’s son Alijah, age 11, not only qualified to compete but won back-to-back state championships.
In 2017, Alijah won the State Championship title for ages 10-11 in the Beginners Kata Division. This year, Alijah took home medals as AOK State Champion for 10-11 Intermediate Weapons Division and took second place in the Intermediate Kata Division, and second place in Mixed All Ages And Belts Teams.
Trista Ducker, also age 11, took second place in all ages and belts Teams division, third place in 10-11 Intermediate Girls Sparring Division, and third place in 10-11 Intermediate Weapons/Specialty.
Abigail Elliott, age 9, won third place in 8-9 beginners division Weapons/specialty and third place in 8-9 beginners division Kata.
“We train all year and we work hard all year, and we go and compete all year to make it there, and to see them actually go out there and win, it’s a great feeling,” said Tony Acosta. “ It’s hard to describe, it’s so great; I’m just excited for them.”
Acosta has been studying martial arts for about five years himself, and said he became an instructor due to his son learning martial arts under the tutelage of Master Preston Sennet.
“Just working with Master Sennet, that’s what gave me the drive. I’ve always like to coach kids. I’ve coached flag football for my middle son for three years, until he went on to tackle. I also coached soccer for two years.
Family Connection Martial Arts School, run by Preston Sennet, a fifth degree black belt, and Acosta, a first degree black belt, had its start several years ago at the Copperas Cove YMCA, but more recently began holding classes at Sweat Cove Fitness.
“Beginners and intermediate classes are on Tuesday and Thursday, and advance classes are Monday and Friday,” said Acosta., “We also do extra competition and training on Saturday, but we also do physical fitness too. The advanced belts lift weights with me and we train a little more competitively.”