July 12, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Oliver Miller has taught and trained thousands of athletes in karate in 35 years as an instructor.
The common thread for all of his pupils who have succeeded is a willingness to work on the details and to spend extra hours perfecting their skills.
Their ages might not reflect it, but Deairyus Conner, Kenyan Buckner, and William Luciano have invested that much time working on karate.
Their hard work paid off last month when Conner, 7, Buckner, 5, and Luciano, 7, each won gold medals in kata and kumite at the State Games of Mississippi.
The boys won their first gold medals in kata, or forms. Miller said the boys were required to do designated moves, which were scored by judges. The boys also were scored on their balance, power, and focus. They are required to memorize all of the moves.
The boys won their second gold medals in kumite, or sparring. Kumite is one of the three main sections of karate with kata and kihon.
Kumite is the part of karate in which you train against an adversary, using techniques from the kihon and kata.
Kihon is a Japanese term meaning "basics" or "fundamentals." The term is used to refer to the basic techniques taught and practiced as the foundation of most Japanese martial arts.
Miller said Conner, Buckner, and Luciano won their divisions without too much of a problem in part because of their love for the disciplines.
"They all are very competitive and they like doing karate," Miller said. "It''s a second nature type of thing."
Miller said each of the boys trains with him two to three times a week at his gym in Columbus. Miller also trains athletes in the martial arts in Amory, and he has 75-100 students combined at both facilities. His students range in age from 4 to adult.
Miller said Conner, Buckner, and Luciano owe some of their success to their parents, who have encouraged them to work on their skills at home.
"The biggest issue is the parents are behind them," Miller said. "They consistently support them and make sure they constantly practice on their technique, so they are ready for their events."
Miller said the boys typically compete in five to six events a year. This year, he said the students went outside the regular tournament circuit and did pretty well. He said all of the preparations paid off at the State Games.
"These guys do a lot of competing, so they were pretty much ready for the State Games," Miller said. "The kids are really attentive and do what I ask them to do, so it is not a problem. You also run up on kids who don''t want to do it, or do it halfway, and aren''t concerned about the details, but every now and then you run into a crew that is really game for competing, and these guys just happen to be that way."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.