Yes I know what you are all thinking, another so called world championship event. And normally I would agree however this event held in Savannah Georgia was supported by three hundred regional, national and international competitions held throughout the world that seeded fighters and competitors for the honor of being called “World Champion” and receiving the coveted gold ring,first place belt,impressive world champion document,your picture with a possible write up in Sport Karate Magazine and a real world title that will follow you for the rest of your life. I know’ your still saying so what, look at it this way there are several organizations out there that do the same thing however you can not go to Barnes & Noble Book store or any other book store that carries martial arts magazines and see your picture with the other world champions listed for all to see. Also the NBL supergrands have a final all out competition to determine who is the most skilled with competitors coming from over thirty two countries of the world.
Each style is represented with a division such as Korean,Japanese and okinawan, soft, open/creative divisions that include music,a variety of weapons of different styles, self defense, choreographed fight, point sparring, and continuous sparring. All criteria for all divisions must adhere to the SKIL rules book that is quite extensive and ensures that each style has uniform rules that all competitors must comply with or they risk disqualification.
The judges at this years Supergrands were were all professional martial artist and picked so that they judged the division that they would be the best at. It was my observation that the majority of the divisions had judges who were fair and impartial. Nothing in this life is perfect and yes I’m sure that out of the five thousand competitors a problem or two could have occurred. The NBL Supergrands had several arbetrators to handle any protest that occurred with the SKIL rule book being the guide to any final decisions made.
All of the divisions were full of the best in the world with competitors from many other sport karate organizations showing up. The competition during the eliminations and the four night time finals reflected a lot of skill and hard work “no sloutches” were present, these people worked hard and it showed. If you ever get the chance to attend an NBL Supergrand World Games do it. This event was fun and a martial artists vacation with competition thrown in.
The Marriott Hotel was the same one that the 1996 Olympic Sculling and other water sports events were held. All the flags of the world lined the dome of the eight story high atrium ceiling with the Olympic logos and flags still hanging in there original places. The atrium was ringed on three sides with the balconies from the rooms facing the atrium. During the night time finals there was an eerie atmosphere that reminded me of the movie Thunderdome,one of the Mad Max series. Competing on the main stage felt like you were in the Houston Astrodome in front of the crowed watching yourself on the giant closed circuit tv screen, I had a strange feeling of deja vu, yes I competed on that stage friday night new years day, so I had first hand experience of the feeling.
Adult and junior divisions produced new world class champions and the best fighters I have seen sense the old days. Matthew Winsper of Kidderminster England showed greater hand speed than the legendary Tokey Hill of WUKO fame and took out all of his competition leaving World Champion Jason Tankson of Chicago trying to stop him in adult male middle weight point sparring, it was one of the best fights I have witnessed in years and gave the NBL Supergrands legitimacy as a true world class event.
Richard Brown of San Antonio Texas battled World Champion Drew Christion of Los Angelos California in what I describe as a slugging contest with Drew coming out on top winning 35+ heavy weight point sparring. Regena Thompson of Galveston Texas again showed she was the best featherweight womens fighter on the planet by winning both point and continuous divisions, I have never witnessed a defeat from Regena as a black belt, in fact at The Cajun National Championships back in June 1998 Regena was challenged to fight a champion womens kickboxer in a kickboxing fight, the female fighter was tough looking and built like a weight lifter, Regina without prior preparation got up and stomped the daylights out of her opponent proving point fighters are great fighters and she was one of its greatest champions. Eboni Adams of Tarzana California who can be seen in the movie Blade, won female 12-14 point sparring but was injured and unable to complete her continuous sparring division.
Another surprise was James Winsper of Kidderminster England brother of Matthew Winsper – winning the World Championship in 14-15 year old male point sparring. James was a smaller version of his brother and again had very fast hand speed. Louis Jimenez of Mexico had an exciting fight as both fighters were very skilled and the fight was one of the textbook technique fights of the World Games.
Now remember this name “Ryan Huntly” from Anaheim California and a member of Jay Rubenfields Team Kani, Ryan dominated the 16-17 year old male point and continuous sparring divisions and will be a force to be reckoned with in the adult division soon. Louis Garcia of Houston Texas and Donald Miller of SanMarcos Texas battled it out in a triple overtime and brutal superheavyweight continunous sparring match. The contest had both fighters at the brink of passing out due to the intensity of the fighting with both fighters hitting the ground from blows by the other. Finally after what was the longest matches of the World Games Louis Garcia finally won by one point and accepted the World Champions Belt almost totally exhausted. Thank you Donald and Louis for a great fight.Look for Donald Miller in several upcoming movies, Donald is a football star for the University of San Marcos and I guess they think he makes a great bad guy.
Larry Tankson father of the dynamic duo from Chicago won 35+ and 42+ point sparring and once again showed why he is one of the most talented old guys around and a fighter that won last year’s 18+light middle weight world title, Larry “your bad”. I would be committing a crime if I did not Mention The New Eastern Assassin-Carlos Tearney who I have personally witnessed knock out several opponents “in a point fight”. He has a bad habit of using his enormous leg reach to drop the hammer on the heads of his opponents however he has calmed down in the past few months and managed to not hurt anyone and once again win the Light Heavyweight World Title.
The NBL forms, weapons,self defense, and breaking was truly representative of the best in the world and the skill shown was as good as any Olympic athlete. It was evident that many hours went into winning these World Titles. Dan Baker of San Marcus Texas won 18+ BB Breaking and Kenpo/Polynesian to top off his long career in competition as an NBL World Champion spanning the last seven years. Another retiree Adrian Ulanoff of San Antonio Texas only 14 years old but winner of more than twenty one World Championships over the past seven years announced that he is quitting competition with a new goal that could include Golf and concentration on school. Johnnie Murphy of Houston Texas pulled out the samurai sword with a blindfold and tied Scott Hogarth of Canada then removed the blindfold to pored on the juice and win 35+ Hard Creative/Musical Weapons World title.
Adam Longoria an amazing champion and member of Neal Adams Team USA won four world Titles that included 17- Black Belt breaking,two creative forms divisions and 15-17 Japanese/Okinawan Black Belt forms.Dewey Earwood of Prosperity South Carolina BB 42+ open forms, Bob Leiker of Hays Kansas BB 35+ traditional forms. Now I think Edgar Cordova of Guatemala needs mention for his spectacular wins, one included the legendary Butch Togisala of Compton California in 18+ Hard Creative/Musical Weapons Edgar also won BB 18+ Korean, Edgar has come a long way and worked hard to earn the right to be called World Champion with many years of going home empty handed. Amy McCormic of Myrtle Beach South Carolina BB 18+ Female Hard Creative/Musical forms, the ever creative Omar Guerrero of Maywood California winning 18+ Male Hard Musical Forms,Valerie Bruce of Pefferlaw Onterio Canada won three world titles in 11- open & traditional forms as well as 11- weapons m/f. And it would not be a world games without mentioning Camille Deloach of Salt lake City Utah winning one weapons title and two sparring titles while juggeling a baby between competitions. Camille has seven children and a very busy schudule, so all you moms out there take notice.
These are some of the NBL World Champion divisions that stuck in my mind. I am sorry all could not be written about but if you purchase a copy of Boice Lydells Sport Karate you can read a whole magazine devoted to the World Games and see all the champions pictures. This Magazine is carried at Barnes & Nobel Bookseller stores as well as other magazine stores that carry Martial Arts material, or can be obtained free at any NBL or SKIL event.
In the SKIL Amateur Championships Danny Griffith of Quebeck Canada fought through all his fighters in the 35+ heavyweight sparring and ended up Fighting Johnnie Murphy of Houston Texas in a double elimination fight that pitted two fighters of like style and that made for a great contest with Danny winning the SKIL Amateur World title.Other champions of mention in the SKIL were Kevin Carcamo – Guatmela 6&7 year old novice,Johnny Shaw – Grapevine Texas 8&9 advanced sparring, Michael Perez – Houston Texas 10&11 intermediate, Peter Comerford – Belfast Ireland 12&13 novice,Jose sanchez – Guatmela 14&15 novice. Alejandro Corral – Mexico 14&15 advanced, Trever Wasn -Binbrook Onterio Canada 16&17 male blackbelt, Courtney Fratoni – Stoney Creek Ontario Canada 12to14 female blackbelt, Ayana Cooper – Port of Spain Trinidad 15to17 female sparring,Alejanaro Peraltachem – Mexico 18+ light intermediate male,Steug Leat – Choltenham England 18+ advanced heavyweight male sparring, Robert Devane Monkstown Colorado 18+ black belt heavy male, Angela Hayes – Fountain Colorado 18+ blackbelt female sparring and Christine Gill of Houston who was in one of the divisions where all the female 18+ intermediate fighters were great.
In SKIL forms , breaking, and self defense the competition included many of the same champions that competed in the NBL part of the Supergrands these Amateur World Champions were Joshua Durbin of Colorado Springs Colorado who battled it out with Jarrett Leiker of Hayes Kansas in several divisions of the 11 under weapons for excellent competition that could have won in the NBL easily.Other highlights of the SKIL Amateur Internationals forms were Shelly Allen of Apple Valley California 17- blackbelt musical it was one of the best forms in the SKIL, Sergio Cabrales of Mexico City Mexico performing one of the best Gojoshiho Dai Shotokan forms in the world and winning Blackbelt Traditional forms, Adriana Corral of Mexico winning blackbelt Traditional weapons. Larry Fields of Abilene Texas had breaking down to a new artform that was dangerous and exciting. All these fighters and forms Champions need mention due to the quality of their skill and the whole SKIL Amateur Internationals a part of the Supergrands that gets little publicity.
I Think that all the talented and famous Judges and dignitaries need mention names like Jhoon Rhee, Bill Wallace, Al Dacacus,Jon Funk, Daryl Stewart of Galveston Texas, Bernadette Nowak from New Orleans, Steve Powell, Boice Lydell, Barbie Witz of las vegas, World Champion Tony Lopez, James Butler of Oregon,Pablo Rodriguez of Mexico, Kickboxing World Champion Ishmael Robles & Jenifer Robles, Alan French, Cecil peoples, Rich Everage Sr, Gary Dillingham, Billy Pine, Larry West, World Champion and The White Ninja Wayne Nguyen,Pat White of Ireland, Ramier Mosqueda, and many more people and martial artist that make Sport Karate the ultimate competition for all martial artist. I will be at the 10th NBL Supergrands in 1999 for my next Martial Arts Vacation.