2012-04-27 / Front Page

Peace out Dragon Fire students, shihan, to travel to England

By Kristy Wagner
Staff Writer


From left, Jordan Piechowski, Thomas Pender, Shihan Andrew Campbell, Katie Jordan and Rachel Stanhope will travel with Team America to the World Martial Games 2012 in Telford, England. Each student had to place first, second or third in a regional competition to become eligible for the world-class competition. 
(Kristy Wagnerphoto) From left, Jordan Piechowski, Thomas Pender, Shihan Andrew Campbell, Katie Jordan and Rachel Stanhope will travel with Team America to the World Martial Games 2012 in Telford, England. Each student had to place first, second or third in a regional competition to become eligible for the world-class competition. (Kristy Wagnerphoto) What do England, martial arts and five children from Cumberland County have in common? The World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes is bringing them all together in August.

Shihan Andy Campbell, of Scarborough, and five of his students at Dragon Fire Martial Arts in South Portland are preparing to travel to Telford, England to participate in the 2012 World Martial Games on Aug. 17, 18 and 19. The World Martial Arts games are an annual international tournament also known to competitors as the “PEACE Games.”

World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes was established in 1998 with the purpose of holding a worldclass tournament every year in a different country. The first tournament was held in Sydney, Australia in 2000. The competition has been held in Hawaii, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Wales, the United States and four times in Ireland.

“This actually will be the third year we have worked toward (the international tournament),” Campbell said. “This year we have a bunch more kids and a bunch more opportunities to bring back more titles. I’d like to be able to do this every year and this year we tripled the number of kids going.”

Last year Campbell traveled with his daughter, Katie Jordan, to the World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes games in Ireland, where they both competed. Competitors are 5 years old and older; individuals compete within their age division.

Campbell and Jordan will go to England representing Team America with Jordan Piechowskie, 10;

Thomas Pender, 9; Rachel Stanhope, 13 and Campbell’s other daughter, Drew, who is 21 and works as an instructor at Dragon Fire. Students from Dragon Fire will compete in team fighting, weapons, forms and synchronized team kata.

“Team America will all leave from Newark, N.J. as a whole,” said Liz Scheetz of Westbrook, a parent who will be traveling to Telford with the team.

She said the cost for each person, including parents, is $1,995. The team is planning fund-raising events to help finance the trip.

“We have tentatively scheduled a family dance to take place (at Dragon Fire) for May 18,” Scheetz said, and plan to do more before the Aug. 14 departure date.

Campbell said he is pleased about the number of competitors who qualified for the world games from his school.

“They have to place first, second or third place in order to qualify,” Campbell said. “One of the things this year is that I have been appointed the north east director for (World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes) so I can qualify people if I see them compete at a tournament and think they would perform well on the world stage.”

To be eligible for the 2012 games in Telford, competitors must qualify in a regional tournament by May 15. If they place in the top three after May 15, they gain eligibility for next year’s games to be held in Ireland.

Other countries that participate in the World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes circuit are Canada, Bangladesh, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Costa Rica and Ghana, among many others.

Campbell and his students plan to keep competing in tournaments right up until August to maintain their competitive edge, but they will rest in July before taking flight to Telford.

Campbell said Dragon Fire competes in tournaments throughout the year on a New England circuit called Independent Practitioners and Promoters of New England, but he likes the competitive level of the European circuit.

“We’ve been to tournaments all over the place – we’ve been to Disney World in 2006, New York, but the European circuit is really different. The fighting is a lot harder and the competition is unbelievable,” Campbell said.

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