PORTSMOUTH — Don Madden’s AKJU (American Karate and Jujutsu) team competed in the 20th annual Irish Cup in Dublin, Ireland last month. The team brought back a whopping 83 medals, including 45 gold as they represented Southern Ohio’s best martial artists.
Madden, an expert at Karate, Jujitsu and Judo, started the Irish Cup in 1997.
“Madden went overseas and started tournaments in various venues,” said AKJU competitor and Portsmouth native Bobby Cooper. “That’s a tough thing to do, starting an American ran tournament elsewhere in the world, but they grew. The Irish Cup has been going on for 20 years now. It’s got around 500 competitors that participate.”
Cooper brought Portsmouth back a gold medal in team fighting, and a silver in synchronized forms. It was his fourth year participating in Dublin.
“I owe a ton to Don (Madden) and my former instructor Darrell Logan,” said Cooper. “Don was the former Head Coach of team USA for 20 years. He retired and then got his own thing going here. Darrell has been huge on my martial arts foundation.”
Cooper has traveled all over the world in his 35 years of fighting. Whether it’s in the United States, or countries such as Greece, Spain, or Poland, Cooper relishes in the opportunity to face off against the world’s best.
“This tournament is always excellent, but anytime you compete at an international level it’s a great experience. You see all different styles and the bar is just a lot higher in general.
“Not to mention Irish fighters like to kick your head off,” Cooper said as he laughed. “They are definitely not your average kickers. It’s an incredible skill they possess and you have to learn how to defend against it.”
Cooper will now look forward to participating in the qualifier for next year’s Irish Cup: the AJKU American Nationals. They will take place Saturday, August 13, 2016 at the Shoemaker Center Gym at Ohio University Southern in Chillicothe. It will feature Karate, Kung-Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu and grappling. Cooper expects around 400 people to compete in the tournament.
The tournament is an open invitational and the deadline to register is June 26, 2016. According to Cooper, there will be seven grand champion awards given and all first place winners will become AKJU All-Americans. Additional information can be obtained by emailing AKJUMadden7@Gmail.com.