Sparring gets under way last year at the annual Battle of Maine at Thomas College in Waterville. The event, originally scheduled for March 28, has been pushed back to August 1 due to the coronaviurs. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

There is still hope for central Maine’s largest martial arts tournament.

The 40th annual Battle of Maine — originally scheduled for March 28 — will instead be held Aug. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament will be held at the Thomas College Field House in Waterville.

The event, first held in 1980, draws more than 130 divisions of competition of all ages, including forms fighting, chanbara (fighting involving foam weapons), a junior black belt championship, a junior under black belt overall grand championship and an adult under black belt overall grand championship.

Tournament promoter Mark Huard, who is also an instructor and director of Huard’s Ju-Jitsu & Karate Inc. in Winslow, said instructors and attendees from across the nation had planned to be at the event last week.

“The mayor actually did a proclamation for a Martial Arts Day, because it’s such a special event,” Huard said. “We had certificates made out to give to all the students. We had the police honor guards coming in from Waterville and Winslow, to march in with the kids and the competitors. Everybody was just really excited and looking forward to it.”

Huard said postponing the event was unexpected, but necessary.

“It’s definitely 100 percent unexpected, we never thought something like this would ever happen,” Huard said. “It’s sad it had to be done, it affects a lot of people. It’s one of those things where there’s nothing we can do about it, we just have to go with it, make the best of it and hope everything gets better for everybody.”

Huard has not been able to run classes out of his studio since March 16. With a stay-at-home order in place until at least April 30, it’s unclear when Huard will be able to open his doors again.

“We’re going to be fine,” Huard said. “We’re keeping in touch with our students and we’re doing some online training, we’re using online services some. Not fully, I know some dojos in the area are doing full classes on there. We’re not doing it to that extent, we’re posting videos here and there. So (students) are involved in some way. Personally, I’ve contacted some of my students here and there online, have talked to some parents. Hopefully, they can still stay active and make (martial arts) part of their routine.”

Huard said he prefers in-person instruction for his school, but is open to online video classes using social media platforms if the state mandate continues well into the future.

“We have talked about it, and it’s possible if it came to that,” Huard said. “We haven’t fully decided on that yet. One reason I haven’t decided on it yet, I find with martial arts training that it’s important to have the people with you (in class), beside you, in uniform, in class with the real cores of respect and honor that martial arts teaches. I think the online stuff is good, it’s a great way to do it. But it’s obviously not the best (way to run class). It is a consideration, and if we have to go into May, we may have to do that.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.