There it was November and it felt like summer in San Antonio Texas, the air conditioning still having to run and short sleeves were still on. This is Texas so love it or leave it. Actually Texas is beautiful in the Fall and one of the most pleasant places to live in the country, especially during the fall, winter, and the spring. In the summer it does get hot but night usually cools down and its not to bad until noon the next day. The San Antonio Four Points Sheriton was where we were and the best of Texas Sport Karate was there.
The State Championships were on again with the best in the martial arts world showing up to claim there place as the best in Texas Karate history.This event is attended by more World Champions then any other place that I’m aware of, except for the Super Grands. After all, twenty four of the 1998 NBL World Champion title holders and twenty SKIL Amateur Champions as well as a large number of seconds and thirds came from Texas and most of them were TNT competitors who competed in the 1998 TNT State Championships. This should give an idea of the level of competition at the event. If you love watching and competing with the best in the world this was the place to be. Even the TNT staff were world class as many of the same Judges and officials were also working at the World Championships.
The Founders of the TNT are George Minshew, Jose Santamaria,and World Champion Tony Lopez who have strived to produce a world class event and allow up and coming champions a venue to excel into the lime light.The Officials that did judging at this event were also working at the Supergrands so the best judges were present. Some of the officials were World Champion Chris Minshew, Master Daryl Stewart of Galveston Texas, Donna Lopez, World Champion Tyrone Epps, SKIL Champion Neal Adams, World Champion Gary Lee, Master Ovid Rodriguez of Laredo Texas, National Champion Debbie Palmer and most of the Texas star Certified judges.
The Texas National Tour is a series of tournaments held around Texas. You earn points for seeding in forms, Fighting,weapons, self defense and Breaking that are valuable at the State Championships.All of the same divisions that exist in the NBL are in the TNT except traditional underbelt divisions as well as the usual open divisions are part of the event. The finals consist of friday competition with weapons, Self defense, Musical forms, Continuous Sparring and Breaking. Saturday competition includes traditional forms, creative open hand forms, and point sparring. A Saturday nighttime banquet is held where the State Champion Belts, Hall Of Fame awards, and the money to the star certified Officials is given out. Also most of the tournaments are SKIL rated and four of them were NBL so points for the world championships can be earned by all who compete.Two NBL conferences and several other organizations are also represented at this competition.So if you are from some other state you would be right at home running the TNT circuit.
Friday afternoon started out with blackbelt Creative weapons and forms, World Champion David Johnson won 18+ Hard Creative/Musical Weapons and three other divisions,World Champion Eva Rameriz took womens 18+ Hard Creative/Musical and non Musical forms divisions. 1998 World Champion Johnnie Murphy won two weapons and two forms State Champion Titles, Sergio Cabrales of Mexico beat out World Champion Dan Baker, Johnnie Murphy and other great competitors to win Japanese/oke forms with competitors only hundredths of a point apart. 1998 World Champion Willie Galvan won soft creative with his enigma form.Brother of Willie Galvan and 1998 World Champion George Galvan won Soft Weapons and Soft Traditional forms. Rubin Valero a Hapkido stylist from San Antonio won adult self defense with a series of impressive techniques involving a cane.
In the Junior divisions Crystal Graffo a student of World Champion Zulfi Ahmed won in junior traditional forms, her style is Bushiban Karate. Chris Sublet and world traveler with Neal Adams Team USA was one of the most impressive junior Champions at the TNT State Championships. Chris demonstrated the kind of skill in synchronized musical forms that I have only seen from Jimmy Pham and Adrian Ulanoff and I believe that everywhere in the world I went he was great. Other Champions included Chris Galo, Ronin Hackney,Bear Loebe of Houston and Ryan Wong who won in junior traditional weapons.
As for the underbelt juniors many of whom are also SKIL Champions, they were great. These kids could win anywhere in the world and they do. There were many close contests and one of the most exciting divisions was when Ben Murphy of Houston ran his staff blindfolded and Johnny Shaw of Coppel Texas ended up only one hundredths of a point apart.Ryan Lamb brother of 1997 State Champion Jared Lamb won 16-17 advanced traditional forms. Other junior underbelt state champions were Allan Bedruz, Ana Galvan, Andy Ray Brett, Kenny Hoyt, Charles Major, And Jay Weismuller. Some of the Adult Underbelt State Champions were Ed Wallison of Spring Texas who won in weapons, forms and the Adult Male Underbelt Hall Of Fame award ,Darren Smith 18+ int weapons, Christine Gill who won in forms,sparring and the Adult Female Underbelt Hall Of Fame Award, Cindy Hoyt, Mark Myrick, Jose Lopez Jr, Cordy Dovalina, Nancy Dwyer, Angie Jones, Carol Jaroszews, and others who made for great underbelt competition.
In the Blackbelt sparring divisions Richard Brown, Johnnie Murphy, Larry Ortega and Guy James showed why they are some of the best fighters in the country winning state titles in 35+ and 42+ Divisions.Richard Brown won second in the world at the 1998 NBL World Games,Johnnie Murphy won second at the 1998 SKIL Amateur World Games.
One of the more interesting fights was between Gary Lee of Houston and Larry Lockhart of San Antonio, Larry nailed Gary and Gary went down disqualifying Larry for excessive contact, Larry is a great fighter and I think he might have won if things would have gone without this knockout.Mike Fillmore, Brandon Mcray and Cyd Minshew also had very intense fights. Jay Folsom had a near death experience flying off the stage and into some chairs injuring himself, Jay came back and managed to pull off a win in the Mens Lightweight Sparring state championship.
It would not surprise me to see at large TNT team at the 1999 NBL World Games.This was one of the most exciting events of of the 1998 competition season and many of the competitors who attended went away State Champions. Also the traditional underbelt forms divisions seems to be drawing in more kids and adults that would otherwise stay at home. Usually these people don’t attend open events but the new traditional rules and divisions are a good incentive to compete and put it to the test. I think that the future will see a large crowed of these competitors, after all Texas already has the best open forms competitors in the world.