The Tiger Balm Internationals 1998

Vancouver British Colombia in Canada hosted one of the world’s premier martial arts extravaganza. This event is internationally known and attended by more celebrities than you can shake a stick at.

Some of the names that attended, judged, and competed were Al Dacascos, Movie star Mark Dacascos star of several movies including The Crow,Double Dragons and several other films, Adrian Paul of the TV series Highlander, Kimberly Adams who can be seen in the movie Blade, as well as a large number of legends of the martial arts, including Jon Funk who not only produced this marvelous event but is a writer for Black Belt Magazine and one of the top soft stylist in North America.

Saturday came and brought many of the best in the world to show their stuff. The weapons competition brought in a variety of styles that included one of the best soft style weapons competition that I have ever seen in an open tournament. Many of the local and regional champions were there and unfortunately the traditional weapon people did not fair as good as the wushu stylist. I like to watch the soft weapons because being a weapons competitor myself I am always amazed at the flexibility that they possess and their weapons reflect their grace in motion. Jerry Silva of Colorado won the soft weapons division. The flip side of soft are the hard traditional and open weapons who’s techniques center around power, economy of motion and stillness of motion. Now I know some people don’t understand these term’s but these motions separate the average from the great and good judges usually award the person who exhibits the most skill with their motion and manipulation of the weapon,wins. And the people that showed that skill and won the weapons divisions were Aaryn Macias, Adrian Ulanoff, Adam Longoria, Chris Millares, John Fong, Camille Deloach and Johnnie Murphy of Houston, Texas, all winning in contemporary weapons with Valerie Bruce and William Chung winning Traditional weapons.

Choreographed fight saw Chris Sublett of Houston, Texas and Raymond Danials of California winning , showing their unique and entertaining sets of movements. Self Defense Went to Adam Longoria of Houston Texas taking the junior division and Vernon Gorman of Canada overcoming such great champions as Dan Baker in the adult division. The self defense divisions at many tournaments are growing do to the fact that a format has been established by the NBL that many other circuits adhere to. When you consider that most systems claim that their forms are based around their self defense, a good indication of how effective that system is, can be determined in a division that is very entertaining and enlightening. I have studied Lima Lama, a polynesian martial art that only has five forms and there totally based around their self defense so when you do their forms you also are practicing the required self defense, what efficiency. After many years in the martial arts I believe we should teach the self defense aspects of our forms in far greater detail and self defense in competition makes you work harder on what is really a weak area for most martial arts.I have in the last six years seen self defense evolve and grow as a competitive art and I hope to see it as a standard division in all tournaments.

Forms divisions were larger than any that I have ever seen with Japanese/Oke, and Korean mens divisions having over twenty five in each male, female, and junior divisions. All the other Divisions contained so many divisions that the time it took to complete them all, ran time over and the sparring ended up going on as the night time extravaganza started, making for a long day. Some of the more memorable forms came in the contemporary division. Denise Jensen of Oregon won Womens Hard open. The form gave a Native American flavor that had her dressed in American Indian costume showing precise technical skill with music that accented the whole form and giving her an impressive win over a large Division that included World Champion Camille DeLoach. Some of the other contemporary forms champions were Dan Baker of Texas, Camille DeLoach, Mark Russo, Omar Guerro, Justus Lawrence, Kimberely Adams, Valerie Bruce, Adrian Ulanoff, and Andrew Maese of Texas.

In the Traditional forms divisions World Champion Bob Leiker won but had to endure his last name being called out as Bob Leaker, I guess the announcer needed a break, Bob certainly wanted to give her one. Other Traditional champions were Tang Soo Do Master Melissa Paone, Boni Yanagisawa, Tan Tran, Roark Hodson, Justus Lawrence, Joel Wasel, Kimberly Adams, Derek Lionas, Adrian Ulanoff, Adam Longoria, and Valerie Bruce of Canada, Guess what, their all World Champions and that should tell you how tough the competition was because many of them were in the same divisions and these divisions were packed with champions from all over the country. If you had a video camera you would have some of the best champions of our time on film and could study some of the most precise technical forms ever.

As I mentioned earlier in this article time went over so by the time the sparring divisions started it was getting late. One of the best fights came in the Mens middle weight with Tony Mosley one of Black Belt Hall of Fame Linda Denlys students and Joel Wasel of Vancouver, the fight went into over time with Joel narrowly defeating the kicking power of Tony utilizing enormous hand speed. By the way congratulations Tony on becoming a Pilot “Captain” for Continental Airlines. We should all remember how hard some of these champions and competitors work to balance a professional job and Martial Arts career as well as have family’s, they truly are unique. Other Winners in the sparring divisions were. Jamie Mathews, Melvin Roberts

Brian Spencer, Irene Amaro, Tahra Gabelmen, Chris Daley, Alex Armitage, Travis Gillentine, Joel Wazel, Junior Salientes, Raymond Daniels, Justus Lawrence, Tan Tran, and Eboni Adams there were some others and I apologize for not mentioning all of them but you should know that the black belt divisions had over 1000 competitors.

Continuous Sparring or should I say continuous stomping fielded the fewest competitors of all the divisions but again the action was non stop and several knock downs occurred with Eboni Adams and the junior girls light divisions being one of the most exceptional of these divisions. Eboni has such enormous flexibility that watching her is really exciting also Eboni is a good sport and always shows concern to other fighters in her division. Team competition saw Team Hard Style win Junior Team fight and Team Kwon Shu the adult team champions.

The finals were done almost at the same time as the night time extravaganza the forms run off had Omar Guerrero tie with John Fong and pull out a narrow victory over John with his patented Jame Bond form. Kimberely Adams ruled in the junior open and traditional forms divisions. Kimberely is the sister of Eboni Adams or should I say a miniature version of Eboni but more intense “Just kidding Eboni”.

Alex Armitage won mens sparring, Melvin Roberts – senior mens sparring and Camille DeLoach took womens sparring. The finals for the competition were overshadowed by the show during the night that totally filled the War Memorial gymnasium at the University of British Colombia . This gym seats about five thousand and the whole place was rockin as special shows followed by “Total Combat” challenge matches that pitted different styles against each other.

This was a two day event and I was not able to attend the second day as I had to leave. The second day included the underbelt divisions and I am sorry that I could not be there, However I was told by some of my friends that sundays events were as exciting as the black belt competition on saturday. Thousands of competitors were given their moneys worth and I felt that special thanks should be given to Jon Funk and the NBL/SKI for the success of The Tigerbalms. I will be back next year and maybe this time stay longer in what I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.