While they usually only send a handful of participants to tournaments, the students at Hopkinsville Martial Arts came out in big numbers last weekend as 20 participated in their latest tourney at Kenwood High School in Clarksville.
Instructor and owner Darian Rucks said they attend five to six competitions throughout the year and they're mostly located in the midwest. He said there's usually a tournament every couple of months and the latest one came just a few days ago.
"Everyone walked away with something except two our of students," Rucks said. "The two that didn't were competing against some tough competition. We're competing with some larger schools that have 300-400 students. It's like a double-A versus a triple-A school."
The competition was divided into multiple parts with green belts and above participating in forms and sparring. Yellow belts and below participated in forms and one-step drills while the little dragons held a 10-15 minute class and each received a medal.
"We usually have a handful of people that go," he said. "This time we had 20. We've been fortunate the past two years, Clarksville has started to have tournaments here so it's a lot easier to go than compared if they go to Memphis."
When Rucks purchased the business in 2015, he said there were around 36 students, but now he has more than 70.
"It exploded on me," he said.
Last weekend's participants ranged from four years old to adults but mostly the students are between 4-14.
Fellow instructor Diane Carr also competed last weekend and brought home multiple trophies.
"She's the resident expert," Rucks said. "She's a fourth-degree, I'm a second-degree."
Carr started her career at Hopkinsville Martial Arts and she was glad to see so many students participate in the most recent tournament.
"I was so excited to see people excited to compete and wanting to compete and wanting to put themselves out there," she said. "A typical tournament we've had maybe five people go, so seeing 20, that's a good portion of our school. I was very excited to see the participation."
During Wednesday's instruction, Carr said they were going to ask the students three questions regarding their performance.
"What went right, what went wrong and what do we need to do to improve," she said.
Carr was reminded of a moment in her martial arts career on social media a few days ago.
"I looked on my Facebook memories and it was nine years ago this week I got my first degree," he said.
She added it doesn't feel like it's been almost a decade and despite being an instructor, she's still always learning.
"It feels like yesterday," she said. "I went to my first tournament as a yellow belt right when I started and I feel like I just started competing. You learn something at each one."
Carr said they want to make the tournament enjoyable for the kids because it should be fun.
"What they get out of it is being in front of people, they get to meet other kids," she said. "That's what we push a lot is the fun aspect of it, the social aspect. To have a good time, make new friends and get used to performing in front of other people."