By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN - They may have won first place in their division for their karate skills, but Tracey LiMato and Denise Green continue to work out their moves on the floor.
Ms. LiMato and Ms. Green received first place in synchronized weapons, black belt division A, for the second year in a row at the 2012 U.S. Open World Martial Arts championship held at Walt Disney World on July 13 and 14.
Each woman used a staff, the traditional weapon of Tang Soo Do, and gracefully executed various forms in the competition to music and came out on top among competitors in their age bracket and martial arts level.
"The blood, sweat and tears really paid off. It's more than satisfying, it's a happy high," Ms. Green said.
The women train and teach at Sebastian Karate Moo Duk Kwan and instead of resting on their laurels and accolades, they are gearing up for their next competition in Orlando next week.
As a whole, Sebastian Karate took home 124 trophies and medals at the U.S. Open Karate championship, which draws teams from around the country and other countries including Italy, Germany, Africa and the Bahamas.
"We are a traditional martial arts school so it's a challenge for us to stand out and take first place because our forms are very plain. So when we do, it's a big accomplishment," Ms. LiMato said.
Both women got their start in martial arts because of their children's involvement, but once they stepped on the mat, there was no turning back.
"I have that self-confidence in me now," Ms. Green said.
"It really helps you in all parts of your life," Ms. LiMato said.
The level of physical difficulty is ever increasing in karate, and new challenges are always there to help you grow and feel accomplished, she said.
Laura Hunter was another student from Sebastian Karate who competed in the open championship and learned an entirely new event in three weeks.
Clash-sparring debuted at the open championship and was a popular event, Ms. Hunter said.
The event is a mixture of offensive and defensive techniques and requires a great deal of self-control during matches, because each competitor is only allowed three moves, she said.
Martial arts are a wonderful pastime for people of all ages, Ms. Hunter said.
The physical exercise, the self-discipline and the friendships are all great reasons to try karate, but two things are foundational necessities, she said.
"You need a good attitude and a desire to try something new," Ms. Hunter said.
Sebastian Karate is located at 13248 U.S. 1, Sebastian. For more information, call (772) 713-6940 or visit www.sebastiankarate.com.