BUCKSPORT — Karen and Dennis Tracy have been holding karate tournaments for 40 years now. As the faces of martial arts in Hancock County, the two are no strangers to teaching the craft to students of all ages.
The couple, owners Tracy’s Karate on Bangor Road, first began teaching the sport in 1971. Over four decades later, their reach has expanded across the state in an effort to bring karate to as many people as possible.
The Tracys continued that mission recently when more than 200 competitors came to Hancock County recently for this year’s edition of the Maine team karate championships. Teams of five participants from Maine and Atlantic Canada took part in the Tracys’ annual event, which took place at Bucksport High School.
“It was another successful tournament,” Karen Tracy said. “Everyone competed with grace and showcased the progress they’ve made and the skills they’ve learned.”
Competitors came to Bucksport from 18 dojos in the region. Nine of those dojos compete under the Tracy name, stretching from Hancock County all the way to Yarmouth.
Participating teams had to win six matches in order to be crowned the tournament’s grand champion. This year’s winning black belt team consisted of Mike Giles of Bangor, Dustin Coty of Presque Isle, Johnathan MacArthur and Cameron Sarchi of Yarmouth and Sadie Hartt of Presque Isle.
Each year, black and brown belts contribute yearly dues to sponsor a scholarship fund for students seeking to continue their educations. This year, Marissa Thompson of Bucksport, Malorie Young of Bar Harbor, Jenna Rice of Yarmouth and Dustin and Dylan Coty of Presque Isle received scholarships totaling $3,250.
“We want the students who come here to not just develop good karate skills but also build skills that can take them throughout life,” Karen Tracy said. “Even when you’re not doing karate, mental strength and discipline will take you where you want to go.”
Students as young as three or four years of age come to Tracy’s for lessons, but age is not a limiting factor at this dojo. One of the students, Charlie Bishop of Bucksport, is 86 years old.
“He’s still going strong all these years later,” Dennis Tracy said. “It just goes to show that dedication and commitment can overcome anything.”
In addition to the championships in Bucksport ever year, the couple also puts on a qualifying tournament at the high school in the spring. Like the state team championships, that tournament draws nearly 200 competitors to the high school.
“It’s something we love doing,” Dennis Tracy said. “To see hundreds of people improve their skills and get rewarded for their hard work is something that makes it all worth it for you.”
The next tournament will be held April 28 at Bucksport High School. The winners will advance to next year’s Maine team championships at the same location.