By Kim Dunbar

Alan Dallessandro
Alan Dallessandro

Growing up, Alan D’Allessandro was a small kid with a big mouth.

“I got into many, many fights when I was young,” said D’Allessandro, who is now a 6th Degree Master Black Belt and the creator of his own style of martial arts, Ken-Ryu Kenpo.

Coming of age in the Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris era, D’Allessandro was always interested in martial arts, but didn’t actually start practicing until he was 25 years old. Now a skilled martial artist, D’Allessandro understands that karate is a valuable life skill. “Martial arts is not like the movies, it is real life,” he said. “It will make you become a better person as you will learn and understand the importance of respect, discipline, and character.”

Armed with this knowledge, D’Allessandro decided to share it with others when he established the New England Karate Academy, Inc. (NEKA) with his business partner in 1995. A few years later, and with the encouragement of his Grand Master Don Rodrigues, D’Allessandro took his love for karate a step further and organized a tournament in Worcester: the Central New England Karate Championships (CNEKC).

Now in its fifth year, the Central New England Karate Championships will be held at the DCU Center in Worcester on August 16th. This martial arts extravaganza will highlight local martial artists as well as karate competitors from all over the Northeast. The event will showcase 209 competition divisions in Self-Defense, Traditional & Open Weapons, Traditional & Open Forms, Point Fighting, and the newly added Continuous Fighting.
“There are many people who are completely unfamiliar with the martial arts other then what they’ve been exposed to on TV,” said D’Allessandro. “This event will show them the true aspect of what the martial arts are and how hard the competitors work in their sport.”

D’Allessandro’s CNEKC started off with 245 competitors and, in just five short years, the event has seen a growth of about 15 or 16 percent, even growing this year despite the dismal economy. “The economy has taken its toll on everyone and on tournaments as well,” explained D’Allessandro. However, the CNEKC is expecting its largest group of competitors this August: “Registration is already up over last year’s at this time,” said D’Allessandro, adding that he is hoping to break 300 competitors this year.

In addition to planning the CNEKC tournament, D’Allessandro spends his time teaching a variety of martial arts at his studio. One of his main projects during the year includes coaching, training, and managing about 20 students on Team NEKA, which will compete in the 5th Annual Central New England Karate Championships.

One of the most highly anticipated competitions in the tournament is watching the black belt grand championships at the end. “That is where you will see the best black belt competitors strive to win one of six grand champion titles,” said D’Allessandro. “It’s exciting awarding them their trophy and of course their prize money envelopes.”

As far as the general public, “Attendees can look forward to seeing that there are many different styles and rankings of martial arts,” said D’Allessandro. And for those who might be thinking of pursuing martial arts, “They will certainly see that the martial arts can be for anyone!” he added.

If you are interested in participating in the CNEKC this year, D’Allessandro encourages martial artists of all styles to come and compete. For further information contact him at 508-331-4772 or download an application and information package from the website: