Amba Martial Arts shines on world stage with 13 medals

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 11:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO, Amba Martial Arts) - “I still can’t believe it.”

The reaction of Martin Amba, co-owner of Amba Martial Arts, after he and his students returned from the World Karate and Kickboxing Union World Championships with 13 medals. The tournament took place in Wales.

“We came as a school that didn’t even place in tournaments in the local area,” said instructor Kennedy Cartagena. “Now we’re representing the country. It was just an awesome feeling.”

Back in May KOLO 8 showed viewers the trainings students were going through after qualifying for the event. Then, the students had the weight of their country on their shoulders. Now, they’re back in Reno, with the weight of medals hanging from their necks.

“At the beginning of the tournament it was actually super serious,” said instructor MJ Amba. “No one was talking to each other. When you walked across people could give you a stink eye like ‘I might fight you’ type of thing.”

13 total medals including eight gold wound up being the dojo’s haul. More than half of those golds coming from the ladies who put on such an impressive performance in Team Point Fighting that England bowed out in the second round.

“It gave me a lot of confidence that we can do something better than other people,” said Melia Monti, who secured three gold medals while in Wales. “We’re not just a small school. We’re a lot better than people think we are.”

Martin Amba admits he knew his students would compete but he didn’t know what to expect from the other 2,000-plus competitors. The field represented 22 countries.

The extra training sessions, running, and sparring paid off for his students even if the results of the tournament won’t be the thing that resonates with them the most.

“(The experience) was about providing an opportunity to open up their minds,” the co-owner said. “It was an educational opportunity to open up their minds to another culture. It’s something they’ll always remember and never forget. I think that will help them later on in life.”

More from the dojo:

Amba Martial Arts instructors and students competed and won a total of 13 medals at the World Karate & Kickboxing Union World Championships in Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom. Of the 13 medals won by the Reno martial arts school, eight were gold medals, one was a silver medal, and four were bronze medals. And, of the eight gold medals won, five were won by the Amba Martial Arts girls, who were the talk of the tournament after beating Team England 16-2 in Girls Team Point Fighting. The score is not truly indicative of their dominance, since Team England bowed out in the middle of the second round.

Kennedy Cartagena Gold Medal, Mens Team Point Fighting

Silver Medal, Mens Point Fighting +90 kg

Cole Brandon Gold Medal, Boys 15-17 Team Point Fighting

Jennifer Navarrete Gold Medal, Girls 13-14 Team Point Fighting

Gold Medal, Girls 13-14 Traditional Karate Forms

Jayden Cartagena Bronze Medal, Boys 13-14 Team Point Fighting

Gold Medal, Boys 13-14 Kick Light (Muay Thai) -60kg

Bronze Medal, Boys 13-14 Light Continuous Fighting -60kg

Bronze Medal, Boys 13-14 Point Fighting -60kg

Melia Monti Gold Medal, Girls 13-14 Team Point Fighting (Alternate)

Gold Medal, Girls 12 and Under Point Fighting +50kg

Gold Medal, Girls 12 and Under Traditional Karate Forms

Jaden Axe Gold Medal, Girls 13-14 Team Point Fighting

Gold Medal, Girls 12 and Under Point Fighting +60kg

Bronze Medal, Girls 12 and Under Traditional Karate Forms

Jacob Axe Bronze Medal, Boys 12 and Under Point Fighting -50kg

“There’s no better experience for a competitor to stand atop the podium, listening to your country’s national anthem play, while wearing a gold medal around your neck and holding up the American flag,” said Martin Amba, owner of Amba Martial Arts.

At the week-long WKU World Championships, there were over 20 countries and 2,000 competitors represented, including the nine from Reno, Nevada.

“At this world championship, my students not only represented the Unites States, but they also competed against Wales, England, Germany, Ireland, and Canada. How many competitors in any sport get a chance to do that, much less a martial arts school from Reno?” said MJ Amba, Amba Martial Arts Head Tournament Coach.

Amba Martial Arts is located in the Red Rock Plaza in Reno, Nevada and run by a family of martial artists. Since opening its doors nearly years ago, Amba Martial Arts has produced over 70 national and world champions. Its curriculum features various martial arts, but its emphasis is Goju-Shorei Karate and Sport Martial Arts. For more information on Amba Martial Arts, go to or visit its Facebook or Instagram pages.