HomeMarlton News‘It’s all about the strikes, technique and form’

‘It’s all about the strikes, technique and form’

Cherokee senior wins international martial arts contest.

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A Cherokee High School senior has been recognized for winning the American Karate Association’s (AKA) 2023 Junior Weapons Warrior Cup, said to be the  longest-running open martial arts tournament in the country.

Shane Billow, 17, began taking martial arts classes at 6 years old, after a suggestion from  a neighbor who had won world championships. He has since trained with Amerikick Marlton owner Mark Russo. In 2022 alone, Billow took 11 tournament titles.

“For him to win 11 titles in one year was huge,” Nicole Billow, Shane’s mother, remarked. “In 2021, (he) won two titles and we were happy about that, so when he won 11 last year,  it was pretty exciting.”

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Prior to the Warrior Cup tournament each year, the American Karate Association honors its competitors from the previous year with an awards ceremony and banquet also open to families and friends. This year’s event was held on Jan. 19 in Chicago.

Divisions for the tournament are age and belt specific. Billow uses a Bo Staff and competes in the weapons and forms category, on both the creative, musical, and extreme (CMX), and traditional forms. To achieve the cup, a participant must progress through four competitions.

Billow won his division – the runoff – then had to compete against all other weapons winners for the boys and girls under 13, as well as those over 13.

“It’s all about the strikes, technique and form,” Nicole noted. “He’s well-known for his speed and also the execution of his technique.”

She said her son plans to continue competing for now, but added that his future involvement in martial arts will ultimately depend on which college he chooses to attend.

“As of now, he does plan to continue competing as long as he can,” Nicole noted. “Once he turns 18, he becomes eligible for the adult divisions, where he can compete for cash prizes.”

Nicole remarked on her son’s progress in martial arts since he began practicing more than  a decade ago.

“Once upon a time, we were so excited just to get eighth place,” she recalled. “To see him go from being just a competitor to eventually becoming a contender, and see him constantly improving and winning now, is just incredible. I’m so proud of what he’s done.

“Considering where he started, there were plenty of times that he could have just given up because there were so many ups and downs,” Nicole added. “But he stuck with it and I’m glad that he did. It’s made a huge impact on who he is as a person and his determination to do well and strive for excellence.

“Whether it’s something that he continues in the future or not, martial arts has definitely left a mark on his life in many ways.”

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