While there is no sparring in a virtual competition, students will compete in several breaking, forms, and weapons events for a national title.
Gerhardt said the breaking event includes competitors breaking 15 boards in the fastest time. The competitors perform skill in the weapons event that includes nunchucks and bow staves, and the form event is a demonstration of the competitors' execution of moves.
She said judges will watch two competitors at a time and determine the winners. The competition is “one and done” in which the winners advance to the next bracket, Gerhardt said.
“Our athletes are very excited to be a part of this and is definitely something positive during this pandemic,” she said.
The top four black belts who win gold at the national competition will have the opportunity to compete for a spot on the national team and participate in AAU competitions, Gerhardt said.
The local academy is affiliated with Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo who is now a PFL MMA champion and trains there when she is in her hometown of Middletown. It has 200 students, and there are many families training, she said.
“It’s fun and it’s more of a family sport ... everyone is on the mat here,” she said. “People can socialize and some have a goal of becoming a black belt.”
Last year, Gerhardt and her husband Rob opened the Middletown location at 1725 Yankee Road after outgrowing their previous location in Fairfield Twp. She retired as a sergeant with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office but recently returned as a part-time deputy/school resource officer.
The school offers Tae Kwon Do, Olympic Sparring, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Cardio Kickboxing, making it what Gerhardt said is “the only martial arts school in the Tri-State that offers all these arts under one roof.”