WINSLOW — For a lot of karate enthusiasts, the Battle of Maine Martial Arts championships represents friendly competition and the chance to test their skills against friends and rivals from near and far.
For the King family of Fairfield, it’s a tradition unlike any other.
It starts with a hearty pancake breakfast at the Purple Cow Pancake House in Fairfield, then a short trip down Route 201 to Sukee Arena for a fun yet competitive day.
“They get to compete against their friends, so it’s fun to have that competition,” said mother of three Laura King, whose daughters Abby (14), Emma (12) and son Ben (10) were among the more than 400 athletes who took part in Saturday’s 31st annual Battle of Maine.
The Kings certainly racked up plenty of hardware, taking home seven trophies, including three for first place, between them.
Abby, a freshman at Lawrence High, is the veteran of the group, having done karate for eight years, while Emma and Ben quickly followed suit
“Abby did it first, because big sis was doing it the other two wanted to do it,” said father Brad King.
Abby is a three-sport athlete at Lawrence, having played varsity field hockey and freshman basketball and will start softball tryouts Monday , but karate represents a different type of discipline not found in the team sport arena.
“You’re doing it for yourself but you’ve also got this whole family behind you,” said Abby, a third-degree brown belt.
Emma is a second-degree brown belt while Ben recently earned his green belt.
Abby was victorious in Chandra (weapons fighting), while she was second in fighting and fourth in forms.
Emma took home wins in Chandra and fighting and third in forms while Ben was second in Chandra.
“There’s certain spots you have to hit and you have to yell out the name,” Emma said, explaining the rules of Chandra, in which competitors battle with long, foam swords.
Emma, a sixth-grader, also plays basketball, field hockey and soccer while a soft-spoken Ben said he’s looking forward to playing Little League this spring and starting youth football in the fall.
Asked how he was going to celebrate his day, he smiled and replied “going to a friend’s house.”
Abby has had a strong freshman year athletically at Lawrence, earning Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors in field hockey, but karate will always be her top choice.
“You do this your whole life and you do it all year,” said Abby, who participates in four to five tournaments every year while her siblings do two to three.
Event organizer Mark Huard, whose Huard Sport Karate team puts on this event every spring, couldn’t have been more thrilled with the turnout.
All proceeds from the event went toward the Children’s Miracle Network, and Huard said more than $5,000 was raised.
With an event this large, having a steady amount of volunteers is vital.
“The parents of the kids are black-belts are helpers and everybody comes together like a huge family,” Huard said. “ You can never run an event like this without volunteers.”
As for the Kings, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re going to be back in 2012 and many years beyond that.
“All of them had fun,” Brad King said. “We really enjoy this tournament.”
The tournament featured competitors ranging from age 4 to 60.