When Sukee Arena closed its doors for the season, the Battle of Maine had to change its plans. The long-running martial arts event had a backup ready, however.

The Battle of Maine will be changing venues for its 37th edition, and will be held Saturday at Thomas College’s Field House starting at 10 a.m. and running through 5 p.m. While the move was set in motion by the Winslow arena’s closing, Mark Huard — an instructor and director at Huard’s Ju-jitsu Karate Inc., the tournament’s sponsor — said it’ll likely be a permanent change.

“We immediately thought of Thomas College because it’s a really nice college, it’s got a big field house and really good location, lots of parking,” he said. “We figured they’d be a good place to host the event, probably from now on.”

Huard said landing Thomas as a venue didn’t take much work or coaxing.

“We talked to them and they immediately seemed interested in hosting the event,” he said. “It’s been in the area, and we really didn’t want to move it anywhere else. And Thomas was really open to us.”

It’s a big undertaking. The event has grown from 80 competitors when it began to over 300, and will draw from all over New England and even New Brunswick, Canada.

“It’s kind of become around the same (turnout) every year,” Huard said. “We have about the same amount of competitors. Usually it’s between three and four hundred.”

The competitions will consist of 120 age and skill divisions covering a variety of formats, the most popular being forms fighting (ages 5-and-under to 40-and-over), chanbara (which uses foam weapons in fighting) and fusion fighting, which Huard called a “toned-down version of MMA” and which is only open to teenagers and adults.

“It draws a different crowd of martial artists,” Huard said. “It’s a new sport that’s getting more popular in New England.”

The venue is different, as are some of the formats offered, but Huard said the end result is the same: providing for charity, with $1 from each $10 ticket sold going to the Children’s Miracle Network, and contributing to the popularity of martial arts in the region.

“We just want it to be a nice family-oriented event for the general martial arts community,” he said. “People can come in and compete in a positive atmosphere and have a good time.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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