Young Students Shine in South Alabama Karate Open

By staff reports

Iron Guard Martial Arts (IGMA) in Brantley, led by Sensei Brannon Duke, is making waves in the world of karate. Recently, two of Duke’s young students, River Doster, the son of David and Victoria Doster and Grey Godwin, the son of Shan Godwin and Haley Mitchell Godwin, participated in their first-ever tournament and brought home a second place trophy. 

River Doster and Grey Godwin participate in the 23rd annual South Alabama Karate Open, both bringing home a second place trophy. Photo submitted.

The tournament, known as the 23rd Annual South Alabama Karate Open, featured 130 competitors from 21 different dojos across five states.

Sensei Brannon Duke, himself a black belt and a former student of Sensei John Wesley, expressed his enthusiasm about the tournament results. 

“Last Saturday’s Open Karate Tournament was awesome,” Duke said. “Mr. River and Mr. Grey competed in the 8-10-year-old beginners kumite and were the only white belts in that division. Despite going up against yellow and orange belts, both of their performances were amazing.  I am incredibly proud of these young warriors for their outstanding performance in their first tournament, especially considering they have only been training for about four months. Their natural talent was on full display. It’s truly a blessing to be doing something that I love and enjoy, and to witness these young men use their training and talent to succeed. All thanks goes to The Big Man upstairs in all we do because without Him, IGMA would not be possible.”

Oriental Martial Arts (OMA) is the style of karate taught at IGMA. The style originated with Chito Ryu, one of the original karate styles native to Okinawa. Duke learned the disciplines of karate under Sensei John Wesley who trained under Master Yamamoto, a native of Japan and full contact champion in Yoshukai, a version of Chito Ryu that includes weapon techniques. Wesley and Yamamoto incorporated all their training from various styles, including western boxing and Judo, and changed a select few fundamentals and techniques, creating the OMA style. 

Iron Guard Martial Arts (IGMA) students meet on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Fort Dow Sport in Brantley (the old Brantley Armory). Photo submitted.

Duke began training under Wesley in 1998 and became a black belt (Yudansha) in 2008. Duke has also been trained in Jiu-jitsu as well as in Kali and has incorporated these disciplines along with lessons from life experience to form Iron Guard Martial Arts.

The training at IGMA includes not only karate techniques but also weapons and self-defense training for those interested. Photo by Haley Mitchell Godwin.

David and Victoria Doster, River’s parents, couldn’t be prouder of the boys’ accomplishments, or the opportunity afforded to their sons via IGMA.

“Saying we are proud of these two boys and our other younger son Silas who also takes karate, is truly an understatement,” the Dosters said.  “We love watching them learn and grow. They have the best teacher, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for all the students at IGMA. We appreciate Sensei Duke and all his hard work, sweat, tears, love and patience. He has everything it takes to make his students believe in themselves and become something great.” 

IGMA is already looking ahead to their next competition, the inaugural Albertville Open Martial Arts Tournament, scheduled to take place at Sand Mountain Park August 19. This event will provide another opportunity for the students of IGMA to showcase their skills and further establish their presence in the karate community.

Speaking of both his students and the IGMA dojo, Duke envisions a bright future. He looks forward to continuing to train and nurture young martial artists, helping them grow into confident individuals both on and off the mat. 

Duke expressed his gratitude for his current students and his excitement about expanding the class further. He extended an invitation to both previous students who took the class in the beginning and newcomers. The training at IGMA includes not only karate techniques but also weapons and self-defense training for those interested. IGMA meets on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Fort Dow Sport in Brantley (the old Brantley Armory). Interested individuals are welcome to come check out a class as an observer or participant free of charge.  

For more information about IGMA and their classes, interested individuals can visit Iron Guard Martial Arts on Facebook.