Karate instructor brings Olympic experience home


March 23, 2001|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

KEVIN MCMURTRY, 35, a local karate instructor, returned from Sydney, Australia, last year with a gold medal, a bronze medal and a broken toe. The souvenirs were related.

More than 45 styles of martial arts exist, said Kevin's father, John. They range from the more familiar karate, popularized by actors like Chuck Norris, to Brazilian feet-only modes of fighting, said John McMurtry, who became interested in martial arts in the 1960s.

Tae kwon do was the first martial art to be included in last year's Olympics as a formal event. But the Australian games featured adjudicated demonstration matches in various forms of martial arts, with participants from 120 countries. Kevin McMurtry won his medals in two of the competitions.

He won the bronze in his chosen style, Shotokan. Kevin and two teammates won a gold for synchronized forms.

"It's like the thing the women do," Kevin McMurtry said, referring to synchronized swimming.

What made the victory particularly unusual was that the three team members did not know each other before the competition. They met at the games and, realizing that they knew the same moves, entered the competition.

Training in many of the martial arts consists of learning a formal set of moves or "forms." "It was a bit loose," McMurtry said.

As for the broken toe, that came after winning the two medals. McMurtry entered a competition against a 6-foot-5 opponent.

"I kicked him in the elbow and popped my big toe," he said. "After not eating chocolate for eight months [during training], the first thing I did after I lost the fight was eat. I bought a $3 chocolate bar."

At the levels at which McMurtry competes, martial arts is a way of life. "You train yourself all the time," he said. "I slacked after the Olympics, but now I'm back in it again."

He was inducted into the Eastern USA International Hall of Fame as a Black Belt in 1998. After his success in Sydney, he is enjoying the perks of what he calls his 15 minutes of fame.

In May, he will be a judge at the K1 Tournament in South Korea -- that's a full contact tournament, where the punches connect. McMurtry said he is pleased with the opportunity to visit Korea and the training schools there, but he said he is not going to compete.

McMurtry is a bus driver for the Anne Arundel County school system.

When not competing, he teaches karate classes two nights a week in Laurel.

Beginning April 24, he will lead a 10-week karate class at Carroll Baldwin Hall in Savage for all skill and age levels.

"It's for 5-year-olds to 105-year-olds," McMurtry said.

Classes cost $45 for a 10-week session.

Information: 410-969-4000.

Band musicians

Congratulations to members of Hammond Middle School's band who participated in the Howard County Solo and Ensemble Festival last month at Mount Hebron High School.

Band members who earned "excellent" ratings were Scott Schlueter, Colin Miller, Harold Cho, Liz Kim, Jamie Duncan, Glen Fortner, Carlina Cheung, Mitchell Smallwood, Jessica Russell, Josh Baker, Nikki Campbell, Rachel Taylor, Catherine Morgan, Matt Barbusca, Lindsay Conway, Lisa Montgomery and Katrina Roseland.

Congratulations also to Kesley Kinnaman, Justin Bilik, Wayne Yu, Matt Donohue, Jason Song, Alex Arciero, Christina Joo, Diana Berry, Kendall Bassard, Meredith Halloran, Adam Bouland, Brendan Rhoad, Theresa Hubbard, Joy Fraser, David Trent, Brian Pettit, Dan Wolf, Ashley Davison, Matt Bokulic, Austin Gallas and Kristina Schiller, who all received "superior" ratings.

Library programs

Celebrate spring with great stories, pretty dresses and cuddly lambs at the Savage library next month.

First on the schedule are signed springtime stories by volunteer Kathy Ponger. The family-friendly program for preschoolers and older children will be offered at 7 p.m. April 3.

The lambs return to the Savage library at 2 p.m. April 9, when members of the Roth family bring in the baby sheep.

On April 10, children ages 8 and older and their significant adults are invited to a dress-up tea party at the library. Bring your best manners, fanciest outfit and a cup and saucer to this elegant afternoon affair.

Registration, which begins a week before the scheduled date of each program, is required.

Information: 410-880-5878.

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