Karate club is UMass D’s best-kept secret

By Staff Writer Ben Pfeffer.

Two Sundays ago, on March 31, 2019 at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), the UMass Dartmouth Shotokan Karate (Club) Team competed in the biggest tournament of the year and dominated the floor. They truly showed up and delivered.

The team won the Varsity Kumite (fighting) event, as well as having Devin Colon, sophomore at UMassD, obtain the most points out of all the competitors in the Varsity division.

José Pineda, first-year student at UMassD, won Novice Kata (forms) and most points (kumite) for the JV division, and Malaysia Bowman, first year student at UMassD, placed 3rd in overall JV points (kumite).

UMass Dartmouth entered 1 Varsity and 2 JV teams into the tournament. The Varsity team included Devin Colon, Noah Benevides ’23 and Kayli Barriteau ’20. This team won all 5 of their team matchups, beating out CCSU, Rutgers, Fairfield’s teams A and B, and the NACKC (North American Collegiate Karate Conference) combined team with members from both MIT and BU.

In the JV division, Team A consisting of Gwynne Eichman and Trevor Robertson, UMassD students graduating in 2021, and José Pineda ended up in a 3-way tie for 2nd place. This was then broken up by points, and consequentially left them to fight for 3rd and 4th. The team prevailed by decimating all 3 opponents they faced.

The second JV team of Malaysia Bowman, Jesse Salerno, first year UMassD student, and Christie do Rosario, first-year student at UMassD, also did quite well.

All of the divisions in this tournament were coed, and in many cases the women of UMassD faced off with men, holding their own.

Team Coach, Sensei Tony Benevides ’93, said that the team has had a long tradition of winning in collegiate tournaments over its 37-year span of existence.

They won the first ever Grand Champion NACKC trophy which required winning 3 tournaments in a row. They even boasted the number 1 rated collegiate student in the world, former Team USA member Mike Luce ’89.

Benevides says that most people don’t realize just how great this club is. “We owe our success to our long-term association with Hanshi John Almeida who heads the AIKA (Almeida’s International Karate Association) which has its headquarters Dojo (karate school) at 304 Bolton Street in New Bedford, MA.”

Hanshi Almeida was a multi time national karate champion in both Kumite and Kata.
His dojo is no stranger to contact fighting and self-defense, as he has been asked to train law enforcement in the past. Benevides states that Almeida’s dojo really is one of the greatest schools you can find, and their association with it has made them one of the most successful clubs at UMassD. UMassD Shotokan Karate Club students are always welcome to train there be it during the school week or even on break completely free of charge.

Shotokan Karate is a traditional Japanese style, known for its powerful ranged attacks. UMassD Students interested in joining and learning Karate can sign-up for the classes Mondays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. in the UMASS Dartmouth Fitness Center, 2nd floor.

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