2008-05-16 / Sports

Sensei Hodes Leads Karate To MSG

By Elio Velez

Sensei Bruce Hodes (left) promotes a beginner in the art of karateka. Sensei Bruce Hodes (left) promotes a beginner in the art of karateka. Sensei Bruce Hodes remembers his first visit to what was then the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden in 1968 and competing in the marital art of Karate at the 6,000 seat arena.

Almost 40 years later, Sensei Hodes can chuckle now at an anniversary on Sunday in which will bring him back to the main building at Madison Square Garden.

On Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hodes is the director of the first marital arts tournament to take place at the main floor of the world's most famous arena.

The event, called "The Championship at Madison Square Garden", will be an AAU (American Athletic Union) sanctioned event as youngsters and adults from 12 and up will compete. Only those people with brown and black belts will be able to compete.

Sensei Hodes, who teaches and runs the World Champions Karate Center at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, is chairman of the event.

He is working with participating dojos from around the tri-state region to send participants to compete. Those who would like to compete, and haven't registered, can still apply at the door at the day of the event.

Tickets for the event are priced at $10, which can be bought at the World Champions Karate Center or call at 718-945-1618.

The ticket will also be admittance into attending the WNBA home opener for the New York Liberty, who will take on the Connecticut Sun at 4 p.m.

Representatives from the Liberty contacted Hodes last October to meet about running the event prior to the WNBAfranchise's home opener.

Along with his wife Carol, Hodes has been nonstop in promoting the event.

"Never has Karate been on the main floor because of the expense of the Garden," Hodes said.

"My wife and I've sent out a hundred emails, reminders and hundreds of packets to all of our area dojos, which can be more than a 100 in the area."

Because the event is an AAU event, the costs were defrayed, which will allow Hodes and those compete the privilege of competing on the Garden floor. "The tournament will be interesting because it's varied. I have people from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Suffolk County, upstate and all different areas to come in."

A five ring layout welcomes competitors, which will be situated at the center floor of the 20,000 seat arena.

Hodes visited the Garden in October and admitted he was awestruck at significance of being on the same floor where sports and musical legends have performed.

"It's a significant event being on the main floor no matter how many people are there," Hodes said.

"Here I am standing in the middle with the jerseys and the flags and you look way out there, and you can't even see the end of the seats. It's amazing."

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