Hundreds of martial artists will descend on central Maine today for the state’s annual Martial Arts Day, as the 31st annual Battle of Maine championships will be held at Sukee Arena in Winslow.
The event, hosted by Huard’s Martial Arts School, starts at 9 a.m. and wraps up at 5 p.m.
The daylong extravaganza will feature karate, chanbara, weapons and fighting competitions for juniors and adults in more than 130 divisions, and physically challenging classes will also be showcased.
After three decades, nothing about the event has changed, according to Mark Huard, who runs Huard’s Martial Arts in Winslow.
“We just thought it’d be good to kick off an event that’d be good for everyone to test their skills out in an arena,” he explained. “It’s good for everybody to be able to test their skills.”
As of presstime Friday evening, Huard had a ballpark estimate of 375 to 400 participants signed up.
“We might get a few more at the door,” he said. “Sometimes we get people that sign up the day of the event as well.”
Those figures are solid ones given the state of the economy and high gas prices.
“We don’t get as many from Massachusetts (anymore) because of tournaments in Massachusetts,” Huard said, “but most of the Maine schools are all coming.”
Participants will range in kids as young as 4 to adults as old as 68, and the events will feature a new one, fusion fighting, which will be limited to adults.
“It’s a mixture of stand-up fighting and ground fighting,” said Huard.
The day kicks off with a Demo Team competition at 9, and the competitive spirit is what keeps participants coming back.
“There’s people that come from all over the place. It’s a great time for them to work and try to test their skills,” Huard said.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, and $1 of every $10 ticket sold at the door will benefit local children’s healthcare services.
That’s a big reason why Gov. Paul LePage dubbed Saturday as Martial Arts Day, to raise awareness for kids across the state.
“We raise about five grand ($5,000) every year,” Huard said.
For those who have yet to sign up, registration will cost $60 prior to the event.