Photo by Jeylin White
Frank Sifu Roper, owner of the Roper School of Martial Arts, leads a warm-up exercise during a workout involving Chen-style Tachi.
By Jeylin White
Students attending the Roper School of Martial Arts, in Jonesboro, were all smiles Thursday morning, as they proudly wore gold medals around their necks.
A team of six students from the school competed last month at the International Chinese Martial Arts Competition (CMAC), in Orlando, Fla., and won five first-place medals.
"They did quite well," said Mick Scrima, the promoter and organizer of the CMAC. "They did Atlanta proud."
Frank Roper -- better known as Sifu Roper -- is the owner of the martial arts school, and said he was elated by his students' accomplishments. He pointed out that this was the first international competition for his students since the school opened four years ago.
He said more than 800 competitors, from across the nation, attended this year's tournament. And, with a smile from ear-to-ear, he added that, for first timers, coming home with five gold medals in an international competition, is definitely something worth bragging about.
"The local competitions were just not enough for [my students]," he said, "so, we had to take them somewhere, where they could showcase their skills."
Scrima agreed, saying CMAC is one of the largest international competitions in North America, and has been for the last 13 years.
He added that the Roper School of Martial Arts was one of four schools from the Atlanta area entered in the competition.
"For this to be their first competition, they did extremely well," said Scrima. "I don't think any of the other teams [came close] to them in competition."
Roper said that, normally, it takes about five years [to be ready for this competition], but his [students] dedicated three days a week to train, and practice. They also sacrificed a lot of their time during the summer, he added.
Because of his students' hard work and dedication, he said, they were able to complete five years of training in less then a year, in order to compete on the international level.
Roper went on to mention two particular categories in which his students received gold medals at the competition. One, he said, was in "Southern Boxing," which is a rough style of fighting, according to Roper. The other was "Long Boxing," which, he said, showcases the competitors' ability to stretch their arms wide, and move like the "speed of lightening."
William Miller, who has been training with Roper for the last four years, competed in last month's international competition, and took home a gold medal in the Sanshou heavyweight division, something he said is a more rigorous form of martial arts. Sanshou, he said, is a Chinese competition that displays multiple skill-sets.
"This is punching, kicking, throwing, and various take downs," Miller said, "so it's all the different skill-sets you practice in your daily training, and you work them out in the ring with another competitor, who's using their own system."
Other students won medals in Chen Tachi, and Tai Chi.
Roper said this international competition will not be the last for his students. In fact, he said, they're already preparing for next year's big competitions.
"We're trying to make the ones in Boston, and D.C.," he said, "but, with the economy being down, parents don't have a lot, so we're trying to do the best we can."
Scrima said competitors' results from this year's CMAC event are posted on the web site: www.kungfuchampionship.com.
Those interested in learning more about the Roper School of Martial Arts, can call (770) 896-9692, or visit the school at 8160 Tara Boulevard, in Jonesboro, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.