Just one week after Hurricane Rita, a category 4 storm slammed into Houston and Beaumont, things started getting back to normal. Martial artists from all over east Texas and Louisiana converged on Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. Elbert Hebron and the North Side Karate Organization, Ideal Lifestyles “fitness experts” and North Shore Mixed Martial Arts produced this karate tournament. This competition was sanctioned by: Sport Karate International, USAMMA, TKO and the USA Martial Arts Association. October 1, 2005 was chosen as the date for this dual Karate and grappling event.
A number of Texas champions persevered high gas prices and long distances to compete at this premiere Martial Arts event. Some old timers came out of retirement for an opportunity at competition. With over 220 karate divisions and a number of grappling divisions, there was plenty of opportunity to take home one of the six-foot trophies. This event attracts soft stylists from the local schools due to its USAMMA affiliation. This was a qualifier for the USAMMA national championships, an organization with a large number of Kung Fu schools attending its competitions.
In the Under belt divisions, there was tough competition. I was not able to be in every ring and can only report on the highlights from some of the more memorable divisions. Some under belt specialty champions were Emily Coiro and Edward Moreno. Weapons Champions Michael Casagrande, Alan Ibarra, Lynsei Soronen, Amanda Duhon, and Greg Carter. Under belt forms champions that I can report on were: Andrew Hellewell, David Casagrande, Morgan Fontent, Will Yarberry, Edward Blanko, Karen Rivera, Randy Brown, Jay Skelton, and Lauren Duran.
Some adult under belt champions in forms and sparring were Sharika Brown in weapons, Susan Ramon forms, Shawn Bard, Chris Voris, Chris Houston, Chris Woodley, Brian Bennett and Ace Contreras. These were some of the under belt divisions that stood out as memorable due to the intensity of competition.
As customary in many tournaments, black belt divisions ran later in the day. Up first was Junior black belt forms. Several interesting results were in the works as competition proceeded. Black belt junior specialty was a tough division with several champions vying for the top spot. After touch competition Jakub-Wood Delta emerged victorious, she also won 14-15 year old forms division. Garet Lee, son of World Champion Gary Lee, was first in 13-14 forms with a most impressive Goju-Ryu Seienchin open hand form. Garet was also the 12-13 year old boy’s sparring champion. Benard Andreus was first in the 9 and under black belt boy’s forms. Zach Burrego was the 9 and under traditional forms and sparring champion. In what turned out to be one of the best fights in junior divisions, Ryan George of New Orleans, Louisiana pulled out a win in the 14-15 year old boy’s sparring division with Jay Skelton pulling up second place. One of the top girl fighters was Dorathy Ramon who not only won 16-17 girl’s point sparring but was the girl’s forms champion as well.
Adult forms and sparring ran last and first up was black belt specialty. Jason Hutchinson showed his prowess in specialty by demonstrating great open tricks that would match any big name competitor. Jason won specialty and open forms. Steven Arenstein impressed everyone by demonstrating a high level of perfection in his Kung Fu form and 18 years plus black belt weapons to beat the competition to take home two well earned six-foot trophies.
In the older black belt divisions, Donnie McKnight of Louisiana took first in 40 years plus forms, nudging out Larry Hernandez in a tight competition. Larry Hernandez came back and won 30 and over weapons with an impressive and dynamic traditional katana form. Vernon Smith was unstoppable in 30 and over open and traditional forms, performing flawless kenpo forms.
Last up was black belt sparring. D.E. Chambers won 35 plus men’s sparring then took out Bill Spillman to win the 18 plus men’s point sparring championship. In a dramatic fight of champions, Jason Hutchinson, Jacobe Gilder, Jonathan Pyndus and Stenve Arenstein fought it out for the black belt men’s light weight 159 and under division. First up was Jason Hutchinson against Jonathan Pyndus and in a hard fight Jason pulled ahead and went on for the championship. Then Jacobe Gilder took on Steven Arenstein but Steven’s prowess in forms and weapons was not to carry out his sparring division and Jacobe easily advanced to the final fight.
The last fight and conclusion of the tournament was the fight between Jacobe Gilder and Jason Hutchinson. Now we end up with two totally different style and size fighters. Jacobe is six feet three inches tall and a Tae Kwon Do stylist while Jason is about five feet nine and a Kung Fu stylist. From the start Jacobe Gilder had the reach advantage while Jason had tremendous speed. Jacobe’s ring savvy proved perplexing for Jason’s quick blitzes and lunging foot attacks. It was clear as the fight heated up that both fighters weren’t backing down. Both were in great shape and highly skilled. Finally Jacobe pulled ahead with a series of blitzes using his leg reach to his advantage. Eventually time ran out for Jason and Jacobe was to take home the championship.