Shawnee Mission students aren’t the only ones getting attention this week for their athletic prowess.
SM East social studies teach David Muhammad recently qualified for the U.S. National Karate Team with a strong showing at a team trials competition in Chicago. By placing second in the 84 kilogram weight class, Muhammad earned the right to represent the U.S. two tournaments, the 2014 North American Cup and Senior Pan American Championships.
Should he show well in the North American Cup — which will pit competitors from the U.S., Canada and Mexico against one another next month in British Columbia — Muhammad would secure a spot on the U.S. team for the 2015 Pan American Games, the highest level of competition in the sport.
“Karate isn’t an Olympic sport, but the Pan Am Games are considered just a level below,” Muhammad said. “The U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes them, and they provide funding for athletes who qualify.”
Muhammad, whose father Rudolph owns the Integrity Martial Arts dojo in south Kansas City, Mo., has been practicing martial arts since he was a young child. He says it took perseverance to finally make the team after three previous tries.
“I’m really proud,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve had people who have been there with me for a long time.”
Muhammad, known to his students as “Mr. Mu,” said he started practicing competitively around the time he was 23. Now 29, he has been competing in five or six tournaments a year. Muhammad is hoping to raise funds to help pay for his trip to British Columbia since USA Karate doesn’t cover expenses for the second-place qualifier. You can see his gofundme.com page here.