Black Belt - - CONTENTS - — Ja­son Wil­liam McNeil

 The an­nual sum­mer gath­er­ing of masters and stu­dents known as Karate Col­lege cel­e­brated its 30th an­niver­sary with some­thing old, some­thing new and its usual cav­al­cade of more mar­tial artists than you can shake a stick at — al­though with bunches of kali and kung fu stylists in the house, you can bet there were no small num­ber of sticks be­ing shaken.

Voted “Best Mar­tial Arts Train­ing Camp” by the read­ers of this mag­a­zine, Karate Col­lege is the brain­child of Black Belt Hall of Famer Dr. Jerry Beasley, head of the Radford Uni­ver­sity mar­tial arts pro­gram. Beasley or­ga­nized his first event on the cam­pus of Radford Uni­ver­sity in Radford, Vir­ginia, back in 1988. It fea­tured the tal­ents of Joe Lewis, Bill Wal­lace and Jeff Smith, all of whom were world cham­pi­ons in full-con­tact karate and/or kick­box­ing.

“At first, the idea was to let stu­dents train with the three best karate fight­ers in the world at the same camp,” Beasley re­called. “As Karate Col­lege grew in pop­u­lar­ity, we quickly took ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to of­fer train­ing in mul­ti­ple arts with dozens of cham­pi­ons and masters.”

In­deed, even a short list of past Karate Col­lege in­struc­tors reads like a walk through the Black Belt Hall of Fame: Benny Urquidez, Kathy Long, Jhoon Rhee, Stephen K. Hayes, Fu­mio De­mura, An­thony De Longis, Wil­lie John­son, Michael DePasquale Jr., Renzo Gra­cie — and the list goes on.

At Karate Col­lege 30, hun­dreds of stu­dents took ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to train in an ar­ray of styles — Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu, karate, kick­box­ing, kali, jeet kune do, sajido, aik­i­jutsu, sub­mis­sion grap­pling, kuei jiao (Chi­nese fast wrestling) and Fukien ground box­ing — over the course of four ac­tion-packed days.

At this year’s Satur­day-night grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, amid the nor­mal ex­cite­ment of per­for­mances and pro­mo­tions, as well as the in­duc­tion of five peo­ple into the Karate Col­lege Hall of Fame, Beasley in­tro­duced an ad­di­tion to the camp’s pres­tige: the Joe Lewis Cup. It’s de­signed to honor the co-founder of Karate Col­lege and the man who’s of­ten called the great­est karate fighter of all time. Lewis, of course, passed away in 2012.

“The cup was do­nated by Bar­bara Leigh, who is both a highly suc­cess­ful Hol­ly­wood ac­tress and a for­mer Mrs. Joe Lewis,” Beasley said. “The cup was orig­i­nally pre­sented to Joe in 1975 when he was the PKA world heavy­weight cham­pion. Bar­bara had kept the Joe Lewis Cup at her home for some 40-plus years and de­cided that Karate Col­lege would be the best place to gift it where we can use it to re­mem­ber Joe Lewis and honor the great legacy he left to the mar­tial arts.”

For in­for­ma­tion about next year’s Karate Col­lege event, visit thekarate­col­lege.com.

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