Aloha Games Grand Champion

North Augusta Today 

North Augusta is... Mike Hess

By Lisa Kaylor | Staff Writer
Posted May 16, 2008 9:44 AM
Lisa Kaylor/Staff
Mike Hess



On a lark, Mike Hess decided to compete in the younger men's karate competition at the Aloha Goodwill Games, which were held in Hawaii on Feb. 16.

Hess already had won the title of grand champion in his division, ages 35 and older, but he wanted to test his mettle against the younger men in the age 18 to 35 bracket. He placed second.

"They were pretty tough," he said.

Hess, a ninth-degree black belt, has taught karate since 1975. He teaches three classes each week in North Augusta, along with three in Aiken and one in Williston, S.C.

The New Ellenton resident said that it almost seemed wrong to fight in a place as beautiful as Hawaii but that he enjoyed the trip.

He went as much for his students as he did for himself. The students held fundraisers and donated money to help ease the cost of the trip.

One of his black-belt students, Marsha Hopkins, took over his classes during his 14-day absence.

"It was really an honor for the students to do that for me," he said. "To me, that's what martial arts is about."

Hess said he doesn't plan to compete in the tournament again: He no longer has anything to prove.

"I feel like I went over there, kicked a little tail and now I'm all right," he said.

Hess said he was reared in an abusive home. To protect his mother, he began taking martial arts classes when he was 7.

After achieving his black belt, Hess began teaching.

Watching someone who has been an underdog become self-confident and strong, especially in the case of women who have been victims of domestic violence, is rewarding, he said.

"I push more on the weak being strong," he said. "I just love watching people make a turnaround."

Hess also serves on the Jackson police force. He said he enjoys his job and wants to make a difference.

"When being a police officer gets to be a job, I'll quit," he said. "I have too much fun doing it."

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