The most well run tournament that I have ever attended and competed in was produced by Jim Buhisan and Ramir Mosqueda of San Jose California who also kept the event on time as each competitor went from each event as quickly as possible. Jim and Ramir lived up to their advertisment and delivered the goods and the cash. They also made all in attendence feel like part of the main event by being friendly to anyone who needed help or a friend. The Doubletree Hotel of San Jose California is one of the most beautiful hotels in San Jose and was a perfect place for this tournament.
Friday night started out with a packed house. Their was barely enough room to stand due to the reduced area and fewer rings caused by only half of the ball room being used. Friday night was not expected to draw the enormous crowed that showed. As a result the competitors had to run their weapons and competitions without warm up.This type of cold run showed the greatness that many possessed. It was a true test that proved to provide heated competition.
Due to the large ammount of money being offered the best competitors in the world came to compete. Friday night had Jimmy Pham, Chris Sublett, Gary Waugh, Johnnie Murphy, Ming Liu, Jared Osborn, and Linda Pugliese winning the open weapons divisions with Valerie Bruce, Ryan Huntly,and Butch Togisala winning the traditional weapons divisions. Keep in mind that all of these competitors are both NASKA, NBL/SKI, and IMAX,Champions and no black belt division was small. Gary Waugh’s speed was so fast that I had to run my camcorder in slow motion to see some of his hand movements. Ming liu’s technical percision and flexability was breathtaking. All the other champions had some unique skill and polish to offer making the weapons division’s better than anything you can find on television or on tape.
The continuos sparring divisions were also full and took a long time to complete. Sparring found Eboni Adams, Adrian Ulanoff, Regina Thompson, Justus Lawrence, Ryan Huntly, Raymond Danials, Ryan French, Yvonne Esquivel, Duke Dudley, Alex Armitage, Aaron Swafford, Dan Holland, Marc Childers, John Worden, Andrew Maese, Jack Feldon and Ty Hyland winning and going on to the runoffs. Continous Sparring is all out action with no seperation of the fighters unless there is a foul or one stepps out of the ring, as a result the action is non stop and full of unexpected results. The winner is determined by the total point accumulation throught the match.
Saturday came and found the toughest competitors in the country butting heads for the big money. Among the champions were Adrian Ulanoff, Adam Longoria, Jimmy Pham, Valerie Bruce, David Douglas,
Ming Liu, Catherine Miller, Kimberely Adams, Linda Pugliese, Roark Hodson, Chris sublett, Kristine Posson, Bob Leiker, and Butch Togisala. Now the mention of these names should give you some Idea of how fierce the competition was. All of the divisional winners are NASKA, IMAX, or NBL World Champions. The runoffs for the finals were heated and the junior finalist came down to the best in NASKA Jimmy Pham against the best in the NBL- Adrian Ulanoff and Adam Longoria with Jimmy Pham winning the big money. But if you ask me it could have gone either way, I would not want to have Judged those finals.
The big money in the adult divisions came down to that well known movie actor/stunt man Butch Togisala and the representative of perfection in soft styles Ming Liu. Ming Liu won with a flawless form, her stop point’s found her hanging off the stage poised like a swan and making for great picture poses. Did I mention that the Grand Champions recieved $1,500.00 to take home.
Sparring Champions also read like a who’s who of the Sport Karate world with Jamie Matthews, Daniel Dixon, Regina Thompson, Carlos Tearney, Eboni Adams, Jason Tankson, Justus Lawrence, Mark Hicks, Camille DeLoach, Derrick Cox, Raymond Daniels, and Tyrone Ward all duking it out for the money. Jamie Matthews pulled out first in senior sparring and first in mens sparring taking home $3,000.00 and once again proving old guys can still kick butt. Daniel Dixon and Regina Thompson Basically shook hands and pretended to fight, thats because they were both on team KANI. However Regina and Daniel are the best womens fighters in the country at this time.
The one thing you come away with when you attend one of these events are the perfection and skill that exist out there, not only in the champions but the majority of the people who compete. After all many of these people are sacrificing a lot to attend these tournaments and the skill they demonstrate shows the long hours of hard work put into training. Olympic Athletes would be the only people that I could compare these Sport Karate Champions to and I find that the skill level only increases each year. Contrary to a few so called know it all’s who seem to think that Sport Karate is on its way out, I have found the skill level of these martial artists to be the best its ever been in the twenty six years I have been associated with these types of competition’s and I feel fortunate to be able to compete and attend these classy and tough events.