It was a shocking, upstanding result for beginner kickboxer Gavin Colongard, who struck silver in a division above his level at the U.S. Open martial arts tournament July 1.
Having trained at the Terrace Shogun dojo for a year and a half, Colongard has an orange belt and has competed in three international tournaments, sparring in the beginners division.
But despite being relatively new to the sport, circumstances threw him into the intermediate category at the recent U.S. Open tournament in Orlando, Florida, and Colongard shone.
“We were all a little bit worried,” said Shogun dojo coach Amber Pipe, speaking of herself and the other two martial artists there.
“Not that he didn’t have the capability, or that we doubted him,” she explained, “It was just… it was a tall order.”
One level above what Colongard had previously fought in, the division had nine guys, and as an open weight class there were several who bigger and older men who lined up to compete.
But Colongard executed win after win, claiming four straight victories, before advancing into the gold medal match.
The finals pitted him against a massive 7-foot green-belt, and Pipe said it was an incredible fight.
“The guy was a monster… and he had good kick,” she said. “His kick kept coming and coming and coming.”
But Colongard responded with quick movements, dodging the attacks and countering with an impressively precise timing.
“His timing was spot on,” Pipe said, adding that he was dodging attacks and quickly countering in the split second he had to move.
At the same time, Colongard was also responding instantaneously to advice yelled from the coaches chair by Adrian Babcock, fellow kickboxer and Shogun dojo coach.
Babcock was reading the fight and shouting out pointers throughout the quick, two-minute match, and Colongard was rapidly responding to successfully dodge and attack his opponent.
“It was amazing,” Pipe said. “It was close — just, so, so close.”
Colongard struck points back and forth with his opponent, and lost by a narrow two-points to take silver.
He also took home bronze from the continuous fighting division, where he faced four opponents.
Also competing in the tournament were black belts Robbie Cline and Adrian Babcock. Cline took second in continuous and third in point fighting, facing six opponents in each category.
Babcock took third in continuous against 16 others, and third in point fighting against 21 opponents.