Lamont Morgan loves martial arts. He began the pursuit of karate later in life and recently won first place in sparring and first place in kata (a series of movements) at a martial arts tournament at Avant Garde Academy. It’s called the Tournament of Dragons and included people of from age 5 to adults.
“I am an older man but I love to participate in martial arts,” said Morgan, 49.
Daniel Munsey participated in the tournament in karate and won several honors. “I feel exhilarated when I am sparring,” he said. His brother, Devin Munsey, also earned recognition in the tournament. “I love to train in karate,” said Devin.
Dr. Eric Reznik, a psychologist, organized the tournament, which included a variety of martial arts systems. “This was an open tournament and we wanted to give people of all ages an opportunity to compete in martial arts,” he said. His son, Joshua Medvinsky, 11, won first place in sparring, second place in weapons and third place in kata.
Some of the money raised from the Tournament of Dragons went to the Kalel’s MPS Superhero Foundation. Monica Anaya, president of the foundation, is working to raise money and awareness to help find a cure for a fatal metabolic disease called Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). It is also known as Hunter Syndrome. This disease takes the lives of children at young ages. Anaya’s son, Kalel Daman Joseph, 4, has this disease and is experiencing developmental difficulties. He is one of three children with MPS now being treated at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
“We want to raise funds and awareness about this disease and find a cure,” said Anaya. “Many children with this disease die between the ages of 12 and 14.”
MPS is caused by deficient or nonexistent enzymes that break down sugar molecules called Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Because of the enzyme deficiency, there is a build-up of GAG’s throughout the body leading to progressive damage to the joints, organs and brain. In most cases, children lose their ability to walk, talk and eat on their own, leaving them helpless. They seldom live beyond their teenage years.
Reznik’s wife, Aleksandra Medvinsky, is a nurse and she cares for the three boys with MPS at Joe DiMaggio.
“This tournament was an opportunity for people to show their martial arts skills. They are learning courage and developing camaraderie,” said Reznik.