The first regular TKO/TNT combined tournament since the shutdown of the 2020 TKO season started on January 30th, 2021 at the Doubletree Hilton at Intercontinental Airport. The TKO organization has made its mark on Texas martial arts history over the last 20 years and continues to provide quality well-run martial arts events with a variety of different martial arts disciplines as part of its makeup. Robert Montifar and his amazing family of martial arts champions produced this tournament. Wayne Nguyen, the founder of the TKO, and his wonderful family were also present to make sure this combined event went smoothly.
This was a prestigious location for a Martial arts event and the Hotels ballroom was one of the best venues in Houston. It was the same location as the TNT part of the 2020 TKO/TNT state championships. The tournament was well run with plenty of judges and other officials that added to the quality of the competition.
Unfortunately, there was no Dragon Dance to start off this year’s tournament due to restrictions of Covid safety. Masks were worn except for those in the progress of the competition. The dance is a favorite of many and I am sure it was a disappointment to Robert and his family as it represents one of the Asian culture’s staple traditions.
As can be expected many of the best champions safely…crowded the main floor and spectator area. The competition was the best yet and the junior divisions dominated the excitement. Parents and teams vocalized their support and enthusiasm. I also competed at this event and had firsthand experience of the level of skill exhibited. I observed the adult divisions and the black belt fighters were looking untarnished by the disappointed 2020 season live event format shut down. I was impressed with the level of skill by all the competitors and their boundless energy.
All the different groups of disciplines including Larry Fields breaking championships, ran without issues or delay except for a couple of sparring-related injuries. The whole event finalized in a reasonable hour without dragging on or delays. The grand championships were run off after all divisions were finalized.
Junior Beginner Grand championship included Devin Cruze, Trey Oler, Oliver Parson, and Matthew Padilla. Devin Cruz was the winner.
Junior Intermediate Grand championship included Christian Marchington, Anabelle Padilla, Katarina Padilla, Lillian Giutta, Arelen Kucera, C-Mejia and the final judge’s choice for grand champion was Samuel Beltran.
Junior Advanced grand championship the contestants were Malaysia Bonner, Alexander Avilg with Audriona Medaano winning the advanced Junior grand championship.
Junior Black Belt Grand championship was a contest between Felipe Brumme, Annalise Bolen, Dante Rodriguez, Madelyn Haggard, Miguel Avekaredo, and Ivan Gonzlaz. Filipe Brumme ended up as the judge’s choice and took home the junior black belt championship.
Adult forms grand champion was won by Natalie Beltran.
The large crowd of amazing black belt Kata ran last and was a great exhibition of martial arts skills. Rommell Gargoles pulled out ahead of the rest and took home multiple 1st place wins and the adult black belt forms grand championship.
Black belt men’s Sparring Grands came down to Kyler Marchington and the Road Warrior – Willie Hicks. It was a great contest with Willie dominating the fight. After Kyler sustained a performance debilitating injury Willie Hicks was declared the winner.
Black belt women’s sparring grand champion was Laine Barrett.
RETRACTION: The current TNT part of the TKO TNT organization is not related to the older Texas National Tour TNT organization that existed from 1996 to 2003. That state championship organization was produced by George Minshew, Jose Santamaria, Tony Lopez Sr, and the legendary Pat Burleson. Many of the greatest national and world champions competed at its events because many of the greatest world champions were and are from Texas.
An organization which I won the adult black hall of fame awards for its entire existence.