COLUMBIA — Hockman's ATA Martial Arts, a local chain of training centers, is hosting a martial arts expo later this summer in Columbia.
The Aug. 10-11 tournament, which has been held eight times in Columbia, will include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the first time.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: A nationwide Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and taekwondo tournament.
WHEN: 3 to 10 p.m. Aug. 10 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 11.
WHERE: Holiday Inn Executive Center, 2200 I-70 Drive SW
COST: $5 Friday; $7 Saturday; $10 both days.
The Columbia City Council has voted to allow the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau's Sports Development Fund to provide $7,500 to help finance the tournament. A portion of the 4 percent lodging tax collected on hotel and motel rooms in Columbia goes toward this fund, said Megan McConachie, Web and communications manager for the bureau.
The city funding helps the tournament add the Jiu-Jitsu competition, which McConachie believes will bring more people to the event. She said the bureau is "always looking for events that are growing or have the potential to grow."
"We hope the new program will bring in a new set of visitors," McConachie said.
Jeff Hockman, sixth-degree black belt and co-owner of the Hockman's chain, said some of this money will go toward promoting the tournament in an effort to increase the number of competitors and spectators.
These efforts have the potential to generate more overnight stays in Columbia hotels and could increase the possibility of Columbia hosting a larger "A" rated tournament in the future, a ranking given to tournaments with more than 750 competitors, Hockman said. This summer's tournament has a "B" rating.
Hockman said his goal is to have 750 athletes participate. He hopes to have at least 200 of the 450 students from the four Hockman's ATA locations compete.
Although the martial arts competition of the Show-Me State Games is just three weeks before the ATA tournament, Hockman does not anticipate the games having an effect on participation in the event.
Hockman said people are drawn to ATA because "everybody competes on the same playing field with the same goals in mind." This advantage allows the tournament to have up to four times as many competitors than in martial arts at the Show-Me State Games, he said.
The first evening of the Show-Me State Showdown tournament will feature Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a contact sport that focuses on ground fighting and grappling. Anyone age 8 and above who practices the art is welcome to compete Friday.
The following day will be a taekwondo competition in divisions such as form, sparring and weapons competition. Taekwondo differs from Jiu-Jitsu in that it is more of a standing sport that involves kicking and punching. Only members of the American Taekwondo Association who are 3 or older can participate in Saturday's portion of the tournament.
Hockman said he expects the tournament to showcase "a real quality of martial arts."
Stephen Knopke, manager of the West Columbia center, said spectators can anticipate seeing a wide variety of ages and belts competing, ranging from beginners to fifth-degree black belts.
The popularity of martial arts is growing because adults often want their kids to participate because of the discipline and respect it teaches, Knopke said.
"It's traditional martial arts with traditional values," Hockman said. "People are still looking for that for their children."
Supervising editor is John Schneller.