Kinston High’s gym was packed with parents, coaches and competitors this past Saturday for the 14th annual Karate Madness Open Championship.

“All of our rings are running, it’s been a great turnout,” Larry Isaac, coordinator for the event, said.

The event was held by Little Union Academy of Martial Arts; the event attracts competitors and families from across North Carolina and surrounding states and is sponsored in part by Dan Sale of Sale Auto Mall.

“We have competitors here from North Carolina, New York, Atlanta, Virginia, South Carolina, and from all over,” Joseph Jones, owner of Little Union Academy, said.

The tournament has grown over the years, and includes tournaments for weapons and hand forms for men and women 3-years-old to over the age of 56. There were also sparring tournaments for those as young as 3-years-old to those 56 and older. Males and females were kept separate during the tournaments.

“We have world champions in martial arts right there in that room,” Jones said.

The art of martial arts and the tournament gives students the opportunity to practice and further develop the character traits.

“We help students develop discipline, self-respect, control and learn how to fellowship with people all over the world,” Jones said.

Organizers said the event was founded to bring the community together in love, warmth and respect.

“Success is built on discipline,” Jones said. “We make it fun.”

Michelle Taylor may be reached at 252-559-1073 and You can follow her on Twitter at @MTaylorKFP.