2017

July 2017 – “US Open”

The US Open is always an amazing, stressful, fun, interesting and rewarding experience. It starts with a nice airline flight to Disneyworld, where they say everything is magical.  For me, the magic starts with my students and their hopes and dreams, as well as my dreams for them.  Two of my students, Caio and Madison have really made names for themselves this year and I am proud that very well respected teams have sought them out and recognized their talents.  They both did great and have big moments in their future.  Caio was invited to perform on stage at the night time show  at announcer Mike Chat compared him favorably to XMA member and movie star Taylor Lautner.  Quite a feather in his young cap.

Autographs & Photos after the “Paul Mitchell Experience” camp- 2017

The weekend started off with another amazing event, the “Paul Mitchell Experience.”  This was my third time teaching at this event and was a rewarding opportunity for myself and my team mates to teach over 100 students and to interact and encourage them to be the best that they could be.  I was amazed by the level of talent and the great expectations for the future.  There were many photographs and autographs am I feel blessed to have had this opportunity.  In 2004 I attended my first camp at the US Open, Camp Chat.  I attended for the next three years and was thrilled when I was presented with a kicking bag from Mike Chat which read “To the next great forms Champion.”

The next hurdle of the weekend was the NASKA competition.  Unlike most, all 6 of my divisions were on Friday night (its usually split with some on Saturday).  Competing against the best competitors in the world, I was able  to win 4 of my 6 divisions, with second places in the other two divisions.  On Saturday afternoon, I was able to win the Womens 18+ NASKA Forms Grand Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was once again invited to perform and compete at the night time ISKA Grand Championships broadcast on ESPN@ and won the Women’s ISKA 18+ Weapons Grand Championship and ISKA World Championship title.

I am proud of my performances, the performances of all of my team mates on “Team Paul Mitchell” and of my students, as well as all of those who came out for the spirit of competition, to learn and to be part of another amazing weekend.

 

January 2017 – “AKA Warrior Cup”

The start of the NASKA year means a trip to Chicago in January.  This can be a little tricky.  There is usual the threat of snow going in or leaving Chicago or a snow storm while we’re there.  This year was different.  The weather was great and the temperature so warm that there was no chance of any canceled flights and so, as expected, everyone showed up and there were record crowds,

As always, the tournament started with the “NASKA Awards Banquet.”  This is always an interesting experience.  I was proud to see my EPIC Team members Caio, Madison, Harry and Gerard get  their awards for their great accomplishments of 2016.  I received my own awards too, for winning all 6 of my divisions as well as the woman’s weapons and forms overall championships.  I had to wait until the saturday night show to be awarded my SportMartialArts.com Viewers choice awards for favorite adult female Weapons, adult female Forms and overall adult competitor.  So lots of awards for everyone and it was very satisfying.

The tournament was very long, ’cause there were record crowds for competitors.  Saw a lot of new faces and most of the ‘regulars.’  I was fortunate to win all of my 6 divisions and then was able to win both adult female Weapons & Forms Grand Championships, making the weekend a clean sweep and a nice start to 2017.

With college studies getting increasingly intense, I am not sure how many NASKA tournaments I’ll be able to do this year, but I promise to give it my best at any tournament I attend.

Finally, I know that to win the SportMartialArts.com Viewers Choice Awards I had to receive more votes than all the other great and worthy competitors.  I want to that you and every person who thought enough of me, hopefully as a person, an inspiration, and a competitor to vote for me.  I hope to always live up to your expectations.

2016 Best Adult Competitor Award

2016 Best Adult Competitor Award

2016 Best Adult Female Weapons Competitor

2016 Best Adult Female Weapons Competitor

2016 Best Adult Competitor Award

2016 Best Adult Competitor Award

2016

 

October 2016 – “Diamond Nationals”

Any NASKA competitor knows that there are certain competitions and certain accomplishments that are pinnacles of the competition season.  The Compete Nationals is one because it is the only true ‘west coast’ tournament in the NASKA circuit and a very well attended tournament.  The US Open is another since it attracts so many international competitors and the largest amount of martial arts competitors in the circuit and is right in the middle of the competition season, and finally, The Diamond Nationals is the ‘crown jewel’ of the NASKA circuit, seeded at the end of the year, attended by all of the top NASKA and local competitors, and the tournament  which rewards the winners with Diamond Rings.  Last year was my first competing as an adult and competing against the very top NASKA adult females, I won both women’s forms and weapons Grand Championships on stage, winning my first and second “Diamond Rings.”

 

19 Grand Championships in 2016 including the the 3 which make of the Women's Forms Triple Crown

19 Grand Championships in 2016 including the the 3 which make of the Women’s Forms Triple Crown

Having gotten a taste of the crown jewel last year, the desire to repeat last years success was a goal from the very first tournament of the year.  I had another goal– one which I actually accomplished.  Since its institution, no adult has won the overall Grand Championship “Triple Crown”, which required the competitor to win the overall Grand Championship at the “Compete Nationals” in February, The “US Open” in July and the “Diamond Nationals” in October.  That of course requires consistency throughout the year, and wins against the very top NASKA competitors on stage at the night competition.  So I am very proud that this year, like last year, I won both women’s forms and weapons Grand Championships on stage, winning my third and fourth “Diamond Rings.”

Sammy wins 3rd and 4th Diamond Rings at Diamond Nationals

Sammy wins 3rd and 4th Diamond Rings at Diamond Nationals

So this year turned out to be a really good one for me.  I won 19 overall Women’s Grand Championships out of a possible 22, the ISKA women’s forms Grand Championship and title and 56 first place finishes for the year.

 

 

 

2016 Double Grand Champion Diamond Winner

2016 Double Grand Champion Diamond Winner

 

 

September 2016 – “Twin Towers Classic”

The best part of this tournament is that it is only a short drive from my home, so I can sleep in my own bed at night and most of my Team Epic members can also come to compete, and they did great.  Once again Madison Olson and Kayla Nunnally competed on stage in the night time finals.  Along with Caio DiSilva, they are making great strides and catching the attention of the NASKA competitors.  Also competing in the under belt divisions and doing great are Gerard Gagliano and Harry Clarke.

This is a tournament which has always been a good one for me.  I have competed on stage at Twin Towers every year since 2010 and  and 8 out the last 10 years since 2007, when I won my very first overall Black Belt Grand Championship. I was fortunate to again win all 6 of my divisions as well as Double Grands on stage, winning both the women’s forms and weapons overall championships. It was my 8th “Double Grands” win of the year with 17 total overall Womens Grand Championships for the year.

Although I have some aches and pains I am looking forward tot he next competition in two weeks, one of my favorites, the Diamond Nationals.  Last year I won double grands and two diamond rings in my first time competing there as an adult.  I am hoping to win at least one diamond ring this year if not both.

 

August 2016 – “US Capitol Classics”

One week after traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it was off to National Harbor Maryland.  While last week was more of a relaxed, fun tournament, this one always seems more serious.  The competition is fierce and some very seasoned competitors always show up at this event.

So I started this weekend, as I always do, with some chinese food from Graces Restaurant.  Last year I spent some time looking over the Potomac River, while filming my 5th instructional DVD, ChuxUniversity, which has been very well received.  This week, though, it was all about trying some new things with my chux, getting ready for Diamonds, another top rated tournament coming up in October.

imageOnce again I had a good weekend, as did my Team Epic members . I was fortunate to again win all 6 of my divisions as well as Double Grands on stage winning both the women’s forms and weapons overall championships. It was my 7th “Double Grands” win of the year with 15 total overall Womens Grand Championships for the year.

 

 

 

 

imageBefore the night show Sportmartialarts.com allowed my to interview another member of Team Epic.  Last week it was Madison Olson and this week it was Caio DiSilva.  I’m enjoying this media stuff and I think my interviewing skills are getting better by the week.  Can’t wait for Twin Towers next month.  Get ready Kayla.

Team Epic members Madison Olson and Caio DiSilva won a bunch of divisions, once again getting to compete in the Grand Championship Runoff’s.  Kayla Nunally has been battling in the 14-15 BB girls division which goes back and forth with different winners all the time.  SHe continues to make the judges decisions very hard and gets her share of wins.

After the tournament a soccer game broke out with about 25 competitors, ranging in ages from 7 to 20, on the concrete in a little walkway between buildings.  No one got hurt, just really sweaty in the 95 degree heat.  Had a lot of fun with my karate buddies.

 

August 2016 – “Dixieland Nationals”

Following the US Open, it was nice to go to nice and relaxing Myrtle Beach, where everything g is a little more laid back.  I got to spend time hanging out with my family and my “Team Epic” family– Somehow, though, never made it to the Beach or miniature golf as I had in past years.

imageThe weather was nice and the tournament went well.  I made my interviewing debut on Sportmartialarts.com when Mallory Woods let me interview my student and Team Epic member Madison Olson before her two performances on stage at the night show.  So that was fun.

I was fortunate to win all 6 of my divisions as well as Double Grands on stage winning both the women’s forms and weapons overall championships. It was my 6th “Double Grands” win of the year with 13 total overall Womens Grand Championships for the year.  It has so far been a very satisfying year and a lot of fun in my first full year with the unbelievable close “Team Paul Mitchell.”  So proud to be a part of this amazing team.

Its a quick turnaround as next week is the US Capitol Classics, so no time to rest.

 

 

July 2016 – “THE U.S. OPEN”

This tournament is the crown jewel of the NASKA competition season.  Likely because there are 5 times as many competitors as there are at the other NASKA competitions and also because  it is the site for the ISKA world championships, broadcast live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on ESPN2 throughout the year.  The 2004 US Open was my first NASKA competition, where I competed as a blue belt with [now] TV star Leo Howard and my good friend Ricky Morris.

I was first inspired to compete at a NASKA competition when I saw the video of the 2003 US Open, with Taylor Lautner competing shirtless with blue hair.  It was exciting and inspirational.  I watched the sync team of my future instructors Daniel Sterling and Matt Emig absolutely thrill on stage.  At 7 years old, I knew that I wanted to be there on stage performing and inspiring others in the future.

I have since been very fortunate to perform on stage at the US Open many times, but each time coming in second by 1/100 of a point or as the result of a double tie-breaker, and one time, a dropped nun chuck.  While I have accomplished so much over the years, a win on the ISKA stage had eluded me- until this year.

This year was very satisfying as I won 4 divisions on Friday night and followed that with the overall women’s NASKA forms Grand Championship on Saturday afternoon.  But for the first time, I also won the ISKA women’s forms Grand Championship on Saturday night and now get to watch my very satisfying forms win on ESPN2 throughout the year.

My Team Epic members also killed it, with many, many first place wins and appearances in the under belt and black belt runoffs.  Great strides at a great tournament.

Of course no trip to Orlando would be complete without a trip to Disney and this year was no exception.  We got to sing happy birthday to Team Epic member Caio DiSilva’s mom, Tatiana on EVERY line, and there were many. I fun ending to a great weekend.

 

June 2016 – “BATTLE OF ATLANTA”

This tournament is the last one before the US Open.  For the first time in a long time I was feeling pretty healthy.  With college classes over for the year, I was able to train without distraction.

I won all 5 of my divisions (Extreme Weapons, Musical Weapons, Extreme Forms, Musical Forms and Creative Forms),  and went on to win Double Grand Championships, winning both women’s, forms and weapons grand championships, making it 7 adult double grand championships out of the last 8 tournaments.

June 2016 – “NEW ENGLAND OPEN”

This tournament couldn’t come fast enough for me.  After having to miss the Quebec Open this year, and with the cancellation of the “Gator Nationals”, it had been a very long time since I have competed.  The good news is that this gave me some time to heal those aches and pains and I was feeling pretty good.

I won 5 of 6 divisions (Extreme Weapons, Musical Weapons, Creative Weapons,  Extreme Forms and Musical Forms),  and went on to win Double Grand Championships, winning both women’s, forms and weapons grand championships.  Another great weekend, making it 6 adult double grand championships out of the last 7 tournaments.

I was also happy that my Team Epic students Madison Olson and Caio DiSilva won Grand Championships in their black belt divisions.  Next up is the BAttle of Atlanta after only one week of rest.

April 2016 – “OCEAN STATE GRAND NATIONALS”

This tournament was a tough one for me, as it was back to back with Amerikick the week before.  After killing it in Philadelphia at Amerikick, winning everything, it was time to catch up on some college studies.  Right in the middle of the spring semester, midterms and time consuming projects, there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything.  I am very proud that I am pursuing a very difficult seven year ‘exercise science/physical therapy” college medical program to take me beyond karate competitions in the future.  Some competitors lose sight of the fact that like any other sport, there is a time when we will no longer be able to compete and if we don’t make plans for the future, we will have nothing but a bunch of karate records.  While the accolades are great, there has to be higher goals.  Without college, the future would be limited and so I am determined to not only inspire young martial artists to pursue and perfect their craft, but to continue to get a good education and to make something of themselves and have a great future.  Cheers to those martial artists who can go through college and still manage to compete at a high level !

My weekend didn’t start out great, as I once again jammed my heel in warmups, making me consider skipping the tournament altogether.  However, I figured that if I could adjust  my forms, I could minimize the pain to my heel.  I was still able to win 4 of my 6 divisions with seconds in the other two.  In the night show I was killing my weapons form and surely on my way to a weapons grand championship but tried a very difficult ‘no look’ behind the head nun chucks release that hit off of my thumb and dropped, giving my opponent an easy win.  In the forms division I narrowly lost, with the three of the seven judges giving me first place but four giving me second place.  I was very proud to make it to that point with yet another nagging injury.  It was my tenth straight year performing on stage at the night show at this tournament.

Two weeks go until the next tournament, a trip to Canada.   Time to try to heal, catch up on school work and enjoy everything else that life has to offer.

April 2016 – “AMERIKICK INTERNATIONALS”

IMG_7781This tournament is the beginning of a try busy several months of competition.  Two tournaments in a row and 3 out of 4 weeks.  I was hoping to get off to a good start.  Team JPM needed me to step in with Danny to take Aidan’s place in the sync forms competition.  With only a couple of hours to practice, Danny and I put together a very respectable form and we finished second in our first try, so I was really happy with that.

Following the sync forms competition, I needed a little loosening up.  I was so happy to run in to long time friend, fellow New Yorker and recent physical therapy graduate IMG_7794Ross Levine (also one of the best competitive fighters you will ever see).  He gave me a quick stretch and after that, feeling a bit better, all six of my divisions were run, and I was fortunate to win all 6 divisions.  That was quite an exhausting night but very satisfying.  On Saturday I participated in the Hyper Weapons Challenge and won my bracket, IMG_7869entitling me to go on stage in the weapons battle at the night show.  Danny and I got to battle it out and in a split decision by the judges, Danny won out.  Its always fun putting on a show in the Hyper games.

 

 

 

 

IMG_7898Saturday night was another great night for me.  For the fifth straight tournament out of the six i’ve competed as an adult, I was able to win double grand championships, winning the weapons and forms grand championships.  One week to recover and do it all again in Rhode Island.

IMG_7906

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2016 – “COMPETE NATIONALS”

It’s always an adventure to travel to California for the Compete Nationals and this year was no different.It took 13 hours to make the 3 leg flight from New York to Baltimore to Phoenix to Ontario California.  But the trip is always worth it. 75 degrees and sunny, a far cry from the 37 degrees in New York.

2016-02-27 10.53.29California is always “Hyper” photo shoot time and this year, some really cool photos were taken which should be available in the very near future.

As to the competition, it was another good one for me.  I won 4 of my 6 divisions and the overall women’s forms and weapons Grand Championships as well.

 

 

January 2016 – “AKA WARRIOR CUP”

Well, its a new year, with new challenges.  It’s my first full year competing in the ‘adult’ division, and my first full year competing for world famous “Team Paul Mitchell.”  This year three of my students on Team Epic, Kayla, MAdison and Caio are competing in the ‘black belt’ youths divisions, while just about all of the other members of the team have moved up to more challenging divisions as well.

Sammy with Team Epics Caio, Kayla & Madison as well as good friend Allen

Sammy with Team Epics Caio, Kayla & Madison as well as good friend Allen

As always, the weekend started off with the NASKA Awards Banquet, where accomplishments for the prior year are recognized.  In past years I have always received my awards for winning world championships in multiple divisions, but this year was different.  Because the NASKA birthday cutoff is June 30th and my birthday is in July, I had a choice to make.  Stick with the 16-17 year old division throughout the year, or switch after my birthday to the adult division.  After the US Open in July I was eligible to move up to the adult division.  At the time, I was leading in points in 5 of my divisions and likely would have added 5 more individual world championships to my current total of 33.  If I moved to the adult division, with only a few tournaments left on the schedule, I just would have enough time to catch the tough rivals in the division.  So the choice was to take the easy 5 world championships or to challenge myself and get my feet wet in the adult division.

 

As you likely know, I chose to move to the adult division and I am so happy that I did.  It didn’t start off so well, as I was very sick right before my debut at the US Capitol Classics, too sick to go to the Dixieland Nationals and just recovering in time for the Twin Towers Classic,  I rounded in to form for the prestigious Diamond Nationals, winning both the weapons and forms “Diamond Rings”, one of my many dreams throughout the year.  That capped my year and made me thirsty for more.

2016-01-14 22.30.22

With NASKA President Larry Carnahan

So at the awards banquet, I was not disappointed that I did not add any more individual world championships, although I did capture the overall 14-17 female youths weapons and forms world championships for most points in the “Grand Championship” runoffs.  I was also so proud that all of my Team Epic members won top ten or national championship awards.

To start the year in the adult division was much calmer than switching in the middle of the year.  I was able to win 5 of my six divisions, and then the overall women’s forms and weapons Grand Championships as well.  So it was a great start to the new year.  My Team Epic students all rocked, with several appearances and wins in the Grand Championship runoffs and the under belt night show.

It is going to be a fun year and I am looking forward to going to California for the “Compete Nationals” next month, which I missed last year as a result of my injury at AKA last January.

 

 

 

 

2015

 

 

October 2015 – “Diamond Nationals”

Congrats-Diamond-Nationals-2015-sammy-smithThis year the Diamond Nationals was a very important tournament for me.  While I have won a lot of overall Grand Championships and many awards, one which had eluded me was the overall Grand Championship at the Diamond Nationals and the coveted “Diamond Ring” that went along with it.  My goal at the beginning of the year was to win an overall Grand Championship and with the many injuries which I suffered throughout the year I was afraid my chances would be slim.

Unlike past years, I didn’t even get to go to the world famous “Mall of America” and the indoor amusement rides.  This year it was all business.  Representing Team Paul Mitchell for the first year, and competing as an adult for the first time at the tournament, I really hoped I could make The Team, my teammates and my students proud.

12108250_10153719456649551_1191880274060970899_nI competed in 6 divisions and was able to win 4 of them (Extreme Weapons, Creative Weapons, Extreme Forms and Creative Forms).  Then came the big challenge.  Competing on stage with and against my teammates and a group of amazing adult women competitors.  Competing in both the overall women’s weapons and the overall women’s forms grand championships, I was able to win both !!  For me this was the culmination of a crazy and amazing year and very satisfying.  While this was my goal for the year, it seemed unlikely back in January,  I hurt my foot badly in January at the AKA Grand Nationals, forcing me to miss the Compete Nationals in California and the Amerikick Internationals in Philadelphia.  I limped my way through the next couple of competitions and even after winning Grand Championships at the Gator Nationals I had to bow out of performing at the Night show due to my injuries.  So this weekend was super special and I was an am proud to accomplish this goal as a proud member of the best and most prestigious team in the world, with the best team mates, Team Paul MItchell.

September 2015 – “Twin Towers Classic”

This years Twin Towers competition was at a new venue, the Resorts Casino in Queens, New York.  I had never been there before.  It was a very nice location and only 20 minutes from my house so that was nice too.  I was fortunate to win all of my divisions on Friday night and Saturday morning.   Then on Saturday night I was able to win the adult woman’s Weapons and Forms competitions so I was another great weekend for me.

August 2015 – “US Capitol Classics”

Following my debut at the US Open with Team Paul Mitchell, this competition was yet another milestone and another challenge.  Competing just 4 days after my eighteenth birthday, I decided to move up to the “adult, 18-29” division.  Although I was leading in points in 5 of my 6 divisions at the 16-17 year old age group, and was virtually assured of my 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th world championships, I decided to forego these 5 world championships to compete in the ‘adult’ arena.

Sammy with Team Paul Mitchell co-founder Chris Rappold

Sammy with Team Paul Mitchell co-founder Chris Rappold

Healthwise, my yearlong struggle continued.  I was feeling under the weather all week and couldn’t rain at all.  Then I had some sort of an allergic reaction which produced a high fever overnight before competition day.  I then woke up with my eyes so swollen and puffy that I could barely see.  In fact, the president of NASKA asked if I had been hit in the eyes sparring.  I had to consult with my doctor back in New York and started medication right away.  By Friday night I was at least able to see out of my swollen eyes.  This was not the way I envisioned making my debut in the ‘adult’ divisions.

I competed in four divisions and finished first in musical forms and second in musical weapons, creative forms and creative weapons.  Considering that I really felt out of shape, under the weather and had difficulty seeing, I was very proud of my results.  I followed up my Friday performance with a second place finish among 5 competitors in the Saturday night show.  The night show was also a little weird for me.  The youths divisions are generally at the beginning of the night show and the winner of the boys divisions face the winners of the girls divisions.  In the adult division the men and women compete separately and I kind of missed competing against the 16-17 guys whom I’ve competed against for many, many years.  The Adults usually compete closer to the end of the show, sometimes two hours after in begins.  So there is a lot of waiting around.  This all made for a very weird night for me, but it was a great beginning to the next step in my competition career.  Thanks for all of the support from all friends, Team Epic members and family and my new family, Team Paul Mitchell.

July 2015 – “US Open”

IMG_1930Well, where do I begin?  I started competing in NASKA martialimages  arts tournaments in 2004 at the age of 6.  Later that year I started training with Team Paul Mitchell members Daniel Sterling and Matt Emig. Several years later I trained with another Team Paul Mitchell member Lauren Kearney and for the last several years I have been training with Team Paul Mitchell member Caitlin Dechelle.  Team Paul Mitchell has always been considered to be the team on the apex of the martial arts competition ladder.  To be on Team Paul Mitchell meant that you have been successful to the point of being one of the really elite competitors in martial arts.  So I was unbelievably elated that right before I packed up to leave for the US Open, the most prestigious and most anticipated NASKA competition of the year, I received a call from Team Paul Mitchell asking me to join their team and just as touching, their family.  Over the years I have become very fond of team coach Don Rodriguez and many team members whom I have competed both with and against over the years.  I accepted the offer and with it, a new challenge.

IMG_2246The US Open is unlike any other NASKA competition.  For one thing, there are thousands of competitors from all around the world, rather that less than or close to the 1,000 at most of the other tournaments.  almost all of the preliminary events occur on Friday, and the tournament starts at 9 am rather than the usual 5 p.m. or later.  Friday is a long day physically, and Saturday is a long day both physically and mentally.  Grand Championship runoff are held both days.  And then there is Saturday night, the “Night of Champions” broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

In 2003 I watched a young 10 year old competitor named Taylor Lautner compete on stage at the US Open, broadcast on ESPN (although I watched it on DVD) and decided right then that I wanted to compete on the NASKA circuit, having only competed to that point at some Long Island local tournaments.  Every year the competitors at the US Open hope that they will be selected as the few to compete at night on the US Open stage to be seen by hundreds of thousands if not millions on television.  I have been fortunate to have been selected in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 to be part of this amazing night show and competition.  This year knew that my new teammates, my coaches, my friends and even my Team Epic students wanted to see my on the stage again.

IMG_2296Between Friday and Saturday I was able to win Five first places and one second in six divisions as well as the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  Having won 13 Grand Championships so far this year certainly contributed to being selected for the night show.  I was proud to be the only girl to compete against all of the boys at night and the only female youth to compete in both weapons and forms on stage.  The forms competition was broadcast on ESPN3 and the weapons competition on ESPN2.  It can be seen when it is re-broadcast on ESPN2 throughout the year or by downloading the ‘watch ESPN’ app.

XMA Legend Mike Chat was one of the broadcast announcers and I was touched that he had many kind things to say throughout my performance including “nobody wants to mess with Sammy Smith.”  That was nice of him to say.

Caio DiSilva

Caio DiSilva

To make the weekend better, my Team Epic students Madison, Harry and Caio all took home at last one first place trophy and Caio won an under belt Grand Championship.  Other Team Epic members Jared and Jessica also had excellent weekends against very tough competition and I am proud of them all.

After the competition, the vacation began.  Last year was Universal Studios and this year was Disney wit Team Epic.

I was excited to continue my competition career this weekend as a member of Team Paul Mitchell, was excited to have a successful weekend and happy that many, many, many people congratulated me and acknowledged that they thought it was well deserved.  Your good friends, true friends, past, present or even future rivals are always happy when you accomplish something special and I thank those who have not only supported me in the past, but continue to support me and be happy for me.  Special thanks to Joe Greenhalgh of Team GForce who was my friend when I joined his team several years ago and continues to support me and more importantly, be my friend.

 

June 2015 – “Battle of Atlanta”

I was really looking forward to this tournament.  Last year I was injured and had to miss this tournament.  I have always done well here and it is a very nice place.  I know that the Coca-Cola museum is right in Atlanta and I have always wanted to go there.. and I still do.  Didn’t make it this year either.  anyway, it was another good tournament for me.  Five first places and one second in six divisions as well as the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  My Team Epic student, Caio was once again dominant in the under belt divisions, winning almost every one of his divisions.  The next tournament is the U.S. Open in Orlando, Florida.  Lots of anticipation and nervousness… for the rides at Disney.

May 2015 – “New England Open”

I was really excited to go to this tournament because many of my students from Team Epic were coming to compete and we were going to debut or ‘under belt demo team.’  Of course, i was also looking forward to competing myself.  Almost as important, I was looking forward to going to the little cupcake store, Queen City cupcakes, where they make about 200 cupcakes a day and close as soon as they sell them out (which usually takes about 3 hours).  Of course, there is also ‘Portland Pie’ where they serve great “Lobster Roll Sliders.”  The Lobster and the cupcakes were great, but the demo team and my own accomplishments this weekend were even better.

On Friday night at NEO our under belt competition team competed against two other great teams, where one would be eliminated and the other two would compete on stage  at the Saturday Night Underbelt night show.  Our team got the highest score on Friday night, allowing us to compete on Saturday.  Then on Saturday we rocked the stage with a truly professional and very entertaining demo.  We earned straight 9.99’s to win the $150.00 pizza party grand prize.

The DemoTeam

The DemoTeam

The winning celebration

The winning celebration

I had a perfect weekend of competition.  Between Friday night and Saturday morning, I won all six of my divisions.  I was then able to win the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  To make it a perfect weekend I was delighted to win the overall boys/girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the overall boys/girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  So all in all, 10 out of 10 wins and a really nice set of trophies.

The overall boys/girls 14-17 Weapons & Forms Grand Championship Trophies

The overall boys/girls 14-17 Weapons & Forms Grand Championship Trophies

May 2015 – “Gator Nationals”

I was happy that the “Gator Nationals” returned to the NASKA circuit this year after a one year absence.  It was moved this year from Daytona to Tampa, Florida.  While I did miss the boardwalk, beach and carnival rides, the scenery and area as well as the weather was just great.

IMG_0751While it was a very sucessful weekend for me, it came with a price.  For the third tournament in a row I finished in first place in 4 divisions and second in the other. ANd then again on Saturday I added another first place finish.   That makes 15 firsts and 3 seconds out of 18 divisions in the past three tournaments. I was able to win the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  That gave me a ticket to perform twice on stage at the night show.  However after winning the weapons Grand Championship and while performing to win the forms Grand Championship, I once again hurt the same foot that I injured at the first tournament of the year.  Yep, back to the boot and the sitting around without training.  Its very frustrating because even if I can compete in the next tournament, I won’t be able to train.  I’ve missed more training this year than in the last ten years combined.

 

IMG_0723So if I can’t train, my focus is on my competition team, Team Epic.  14-15 Black Belt Kayla Nunnally continues to impress in her first year in the black belt division with seconds and thirds at the “Gator Nationals’  and right on the brink of breaking into that ‘first place’ plateau.  Can’t wait to see her future along with the rest of the team.  They will all be at the “New England Open” and we have some surprises ready to show the NASKA world that weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2015 – “QUEBEC OPEN”

Although the nine hour drive to Quebec seemed kind of long this year, its always worth the trip to Quebec.  Its IMG_0195such a nice City and the crepes downtown are excellent.  The weather was a bit cold.  I enjoyed seeing my old friend Heather Grandy and catching up with other friends too.  Thanks to everyone who trained with me this weekend.  It was a lot of fun.

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IMG_0199Friday night went very well once again.  I finished in first place in 4 divisions and second in the other.  I followed that on Saturday with another first place finish.  I went on to win the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and that gave me the opportunity to perform on stage before the largest audience on the NASKA circuit for the sixth year in a row (* one year I had to skip this tournament to appear on the television show “Figure it Out”).  A great way to cap off the weekend north of the border.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2015 – “OCEAN STATE GRAND NATIONALS”

I was so happy to be back.  Having missed the “Compete Nationals” and “Amerikick Internationals” due to a severe foot injury which prevented me from training for 8 weeks, i gingerly walked into the competition area and tested my foot for a ‘game time decision’ as to whether I would be able to compete at the Ocean State Grand Nationals.  With a padded, wrapped up foot, I gave it a try and slid on the wrap, twisting my other ankle.  Not a great start but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had to give it a try.  After all, I’ve had a lot of success at this competition.  I have earned girls Grand Championships and performed at the night time show for 8 years in a row and wanted to make it 9.

11149547_10153250821464551_102364748025944090_nSo Friday night went very well.  I finished in first place in 4 divisions and second in the other.  I followed that on Saturday with another first place finish as well as on third place.  Five out of 7 first places?  Just about as good as it gets.  I needed to win either the girls weapons or the girls form Grand Championship to achieve my goal of performing at the night show for the 9th year in a row.  i was pretty exhausted, having not been able to train much at all over the last two weeks, and icing my foot every chance I could get.  I was fortunate to win the girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  That gave me a ticket to the stage where I went on the win the overall boys/girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  So an unbelievably successful tournament, especially satisfying since I wasn’t even sure that I could compete at all.  Now another week and a half to recover and heal a little more before traveling to Quebec, Canada for another favorite tournament, the Quebec Open.

FullSizeRender-4Once again we were able to bring a full contingent of ‘Team Epic’ competitors and they once again rocked, with more than a dozen first place finishes and many eye opening performances.  Team Epic is quickly becoming the team to watch with a reputation of high level performances and excitement.  Congrats to all of my students on a great showing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2015 – “AKA GRAND NATIONALS”

I am always excited about the first competition of the year.  After two months of working on my new forms, I was ready to unleash them and have a ton of fun.  I also wanted to have a better start than last year.  Last year, in my second division at this tournament, I really hurt my hip badly and for the first time ever I had to bow out of the rest of the competition.  I was really disappointed and hope that never happens again.

2014 NASKA World Champion Awards

2014 NASKA World Champion Awards

So the first order of business in Chicago every year is the NASKA Awards Banquet.  This year I was honored to receive my 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd and 33rd World Champion Awards as well as being the overall girls 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Champion and the overall girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Champion.  I was even more satisfied that my students, Team Epics Jared, Jessica, Harry, Madison, Caio and Kayla were all able to travel to Chicago to receive their 2014 NASKA awards as well.  They had a great 2014 and it looks like 2015 will be even better for them, as they are all moving up to tougher under belt and black belt divisions.

After the NASKA awards dinner it was time to get down to business.  On my very first inverted move on Friday night I came down real hard on my heel and bruised it so bad that the rest of the weekend was just a combination of ice bags and sitting down… That is, with the exception of taking care of business.  Between Friday and Saturday I was able to win all six of my divisions and then I went on to win the girls 4 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship and the overall girls 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  So it was a much better start to the year than last because I was able to make it through the weekend.  I’m hoping that this won’t be another one of those nagging injuries but at least I now have a month to let it heal.

I was so proud of my students at Team Epic, who once again brought home multiple first places in the under belt divisions, and Jessica for moving up to the adult black belt level and showing that she belongs, and finally Kayla in her first real black belt competition with amazing competitors finishing in the top four in just about every division.  As the year progresses I look forward to her making a name for herself with many first place finishes.  I also want to give special thanks to Sensei Nick Deluca, who took time off from his busy home and business schedule to travel to Chicago to see our Team get their NASKA Awards and to coach them throughout the weekend and support all of us as he always does.

Final observations.  One of my students, Olivia Rando, newest member of “Team Straight-Up”  continues to improve and make headway in her tough black belt division and impress people in the Grand Championship runoffs.  Another new member of “Team Straight-Up”, Allen Davies has made a name for himself in his very tough black belt division, making his first appearance in the Grand Champion runoffs after first place wins in both the ‘weapons’ and the ‘forms’ divisions.  I look forward to seeing both of them many more times in the Grand Championship runoffs.

Next stop is [hopefully] sunny California.

 

2014

 

November 2014 – “PAN AMERICAN INTERNATIONALS”

I was not able to make it to this competition last year, but I was really looking forward to it this year.  I’ve been kind of banged up this year but started feeling better at the Diamond Nationals where I won 5 first places and two Grand Championships. In Texas, at the Lonestar Open I felt even healthier and won all 8 of my divisions, all four of the girls Grand Championships and the overall boys/girls forms Grand Championship.  So it would be hard to improve on those results, but I felt focused and determined to end the season strong.

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“Katana” Sushi Restaurant

Thursday night is usually “dinner” night and we found a great sushi place to eat, called “Katana” in Miami Beach. You sit at the bar and your food floats by in little boats and you take the plates you like as they come by.  The for was excellent and it was a lot of fun.  I also got to spend a little time on the beautiful beach on Friday.image

Between Friday night and Saturday morning, for the second straight tournament I won all 8 of my divisions, giving me 21 wins in the last 24 divisions of the year.  I went on to win three of the four girls Grand Championships and I also won both boys/girls 14 – 17 Grand Championships on stage.

 

 

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3 girls Grand Championships and both Overall Grand Champioships

So it was a great end to the year, and a overall, a great year with 24 girls Grand Championships and 6 overall Grand Championships in my first year in the 16- 17 year old divisions.  Thanks to everyone who came out to support me, who took photos with me, asked me for tips and for help and showed their love.  I appreciate all of you.  Thanks to all of the people who attended my seminars, purchased my DVD’s and chux and most of all thanks to Sensei’s Nick and Stacey DeLuca for allowing me to teach at EPIC Martial Arts in Hicksville, New York and for letting me take those talented kids to the next level where they have successfully competed in NASKA competitions this year with great success and established themselves as the team to watch out for in 2015 !!  We all can’t wait not 2015 !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2014 – “LONESTAR OPEN”

The “LONESTAR OPEN” is always a fun tournament because it is run so well.  Like the Diamond Nationals, it is very well organized and promoter Greg Beaver really cares about the competitors opinions and desires.  The Friday competition starts and ends early so that the competitors can enjoy the City of Austin.

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Kayla Nunnally

My EPIC student Kayla competed for the first time in the Black Belt Divisions and walked away with some first place finishes as well as her first Black Belt Grand Championship, so I was very proud of her.

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Four 14-17 Girls Grand Championships

I had a good tournament myself, winning all eight of my divisions, all four of the girls 14-17 Grand Championships and the Overall boys/girls 14- 17 Forms Grand Championship.  One more tournament and then a little rest !!!

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Overall Forms Grand Champion

October 2014 – “DIAMOND NATIONALS”

The Diamond Nationals is the most efficiently run tournament in the NASKA circuit.  It is a top rated 6A tournament and generally considered the last major tournament of the year.  Everyone wants to do well to “end” the year on a good note.

Rainforest Cafe

Rainforest Cafe

I always like to get there early and start the weekend off at the Mall of America’s indoor amusement park.  While there are plenty of amusement parks in New York, the indoor park has some unusual coaster rides and puts you in a happy mood.  This year I brought Team Epic members Madison Olson, Harry Clarke and Kayla Nunnally and we were joined by Allen Davies and Jacob Ellis.  It was another great time capped off by dinner in the mall at the Rainforest Cafe.

Team Epic’s underbelt trio once again dominated the competition with 15 first place finishes among the three who made the trip, led by Kayla Nunnally’s 7 first place finishes.

 

 

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Double Grand Champion at the Diamond Nationals

I had a good weekend myself, with 5 first place finishes and 3 seconds.  I also won the girls CMX Weapons Grand Championship and the girls CMX Forms Grand Championship, giving me 17 girls Grand Championships for the year.  While the year has been full of minor nagging injuries, I am proud to have powered through it and had another very successful year.  I am just as proud that with the support of Sensei’s Nick and Stacey Deluca, Team Epic has taken the NASKA circuit by storm in only its second year of NASKA competition.

 

 

 

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Grand Champions Emma, Sammy & Kiki

A special shoutout to three great friends who I am very proud of, Maia Didomenico who has also powered through injuries this year with a smile and has succeeded all year long, and Emma Teo and Kiki Okubo who are the next generation of exciting and amazing young women, both of whom won Grand Championships this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2014 – “TWIN TOWERS CLASSIC”

Sammy with her 3 Grand Championship Trophy Plaques and Overall Grand Championship belt.

Sammy with her 3 Grand Championship Trophy Plaques and Overall Grand Championship belt.

The Twin Towers tournament is a chance for me to compete is a world rated NASKA tournament and yet sleep in my own bed.  After  very long season, this was great.  Since it was a close tournament my team, EPIC was also able to attend, and as usual, they did great, with multiple first pace finishes and Grand Championship appearances.

I had a good tournament too. I finished in first place in seven of my eight divisions (Extreme Weapons, Musical Weapons, Creative Weapons and Traditional Weapons, Extreme Forms, Musical Forms, Creative Forms) and second place in the other 1 division. I went on to win three 14-17 year old girls Grand Championships (CMX [creative-musical-extreme] Weapons, CMX Forms and Traditional Weapons) and then performed on stage where I won the overall Boys/Girls 14- 17 year old Weapons Grand Championship.  I now have 15 Girls Grand Championships for the year as well as three overall boys/girls Grand Championships.

 

 

 

 

August 2014 – “DIXIELAND NATIONALS”

This weekend started off rough for me.  Training before the competition, I jammed my heel so bad that I couldn’t even walk on it.  I basically stayed off of my feet for the whole weekend, except when I had to compete.  This year has been a series of nagging injuries, but sometimes those things happen and so I just made adjustments.  I was still able to win three divisions (Musical Weapons, Extreme Weapons and Traditional Weapons) as well as the 14 -17 year old girls CMX Weapons Grand Championship.

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Kayla & Sammy

This is a great competition for the under belts.  If you win a division, you get to go against 19 other under belts and the top three are picked to go on stage at the night show.  One of my students, Kayla Nunnally won 7 of her 8 divisions and then won the runoffs against the other 19 competitors.  The top three went o stage and Kayla won the overall 10 -13 boys/girls under belt Grand Championship.  I am very proud of her and what she has accomplished in the two years that I have been working with her.

Happy to be home, the next competition is the Twin Towers, in Queens New York, only a 40 minute drive from my house !

A walk on the beach

A walk on the beach

 

 

August 2014 – “US CAPITOL CLASSICS”

The beginning of August is like the second half of the NASKA competition season.  While the US Open is the most anticipated competition of the year, the ‘second half’ still has two top “6A” rated tournaments, including the US Capitol Classics, also known as “CAPS.”  This tournament is at beautiful “National Harbor” Maryland, right outside of Washington DC.  In the past I had time to visit the historic sites but not this time.

Double Grand Championships

Double Grand Championships

On Friday night i finished first in 4 of my 6 divisions and then on Saturday I picked up another win out of two divisions, so I finished with 5 firsts and 3 seconds.  I went on to win double grands, that is, Grand Championships in the 14 – 17 year old girls CMX Forms and the 14 – 17 year old girls Traditional Weapons divisions.

I was again proud to have many of our “Team Epic” competition Team members competing and racking up more first, second and third places and improving every time.  Everyone had a great time and I enjoyed all the great photos we took and trips to Ben & Jerrys for ice cream.  I also appreciate their support while I am competing.

 

 

 

July 2014 – “US OPEN”

The beginning of July means its time for the US Open.  This is the most anticipated and most prestigious NASKA tournament of the year and is always very exciting. It is by far the largest tournament of the year and brings competitors from all over the world.

Ricky Morris

Ricky Morris

In 2004, my very first NASKA tournament was the US Open, where I competed as a blue belt with future world champion Ricky Morris and future television star of “Kickin’ it”, Leo Howard.  This year was my eleventh US Open in a row and it remained as exciting as ever.

 

Leo Howard

Leo Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

With fierce competition, I was able to capture 3 first place finishes in Extreme Weapons, Creative Weapons and Extreme Forms, as well as 4 second places.  I went on to win the girls 14 – 17 year old CMX Weapons Grand

photo-18Championship.  I was then invited to perform on stage for the fourth year in a row at the US Open ISKA “Night of Champions” which was broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

 

 

imageI was also excited to coach 5 members of our Team Epic at the US Open and was proud that they all did great, with 13 first place finishes and a bunch of seconds, thirds and fourths in divisions that often had fourteen and fifteen competitors.

As is our tradition, after the US Open night of Champions show it was off to the ‘big pool’ for the celebration party and then a couple of days at Universal Studios with Team Epic to relax and have some fun.  Looking forward to doing it again next year.

 

 

 

May 2014 – “NEW ENGLAND OPEN”

photo-53I have to say that I was as excited for my students as I was for myself this weekend.  The New England Open has two features that are unique from all other NASKA tournaments.  First of all, there is the “Super Forms” competition and secondly there is an ‘under belt’ grand champion night time show and competition.

Superforms is a fun event where the competitor spins the wheel and has to perform whatever comes up on the wheel.  Last year I won Superforms by performing a “weapons” kata using an oar!!!  This year the field was narrowed down to three; myself Jacob Pinto and Jackson Rudolph.  We spun, and performed, spun and performed by no one could be eliminated.  Finally, one last spin of the wheel and everyone would have to do the same thing.  It landed on Extreme Forms.  Jackson went first, Jacob second and I went last.  After the smoke cleared,Jacob was voted the winner and he deserved the win.  It was another fun Superforms.

photo-52About a year ago, my students at Epic Martial Arts (Hicksville, New York) started to compete on the NASKA circuit and they have been doing great.  They have earned multiple first place finishes and all have improved from tournament to tournament.  I think this was their best yet.  All under belt winners earned a beautiful ring in addition to their first place trophies and Team Epic came home with a jewelry store worth of rings.  Everyone showed great improvement and gave a great effort.

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Three of Team Epics under belts made it to the stage at the night time show.  Madison Olsen, Kayla Nunnally and Caio DaSilva all gave incredible performances, with Madison winning her division and Kayla winning both of her divisions.  Caio gave a great performance and narrowly came in second and will surely be right there again next year.  There was great support as all Team Epic members, including Sensei’s Nick and Stacey Deluca cheered from the seats.  I was very proud of everyone this weekend.

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Bella, Sammi and I

I had a pretty good weekend myself.  I was fortunate to win first place in all eight of my divisions and then I competed in the 14 -17 CMX girls Grand Championships and I won both the “Weapons” and the “Forms” Grand Championships, giving me eight Grand Championships for the year so far.

Unfortunately, another tournament and another injury.  I badly bruised my heel and so I’ll be off of my feet again for a while.  With Battle of Atlanta coming up in only a few short weeks and the US Open right after that, there is really no time to heal but I am going to give it my best..  Next stop- Atlanta.

 

April 2014 – “QUEBEC OPEN”

All of the top level NASKA competitors look forward to the Quebec Open.  It’s kind of cool to travel outside of the United States and the Quebec Open is the only NASKA competition out of the country.  This means passports, customs, a lot of french and this time, lost luggage.  But the biggest reason the we look forward to the Quebec Open is “the stage.”  This place is unique.  About five thousand people show up for the night show to watch the top competitors perform is what is a high energy and inspirational show.  The most inspirational is the”handicap- able division” where those struggling with a physical disability show off their karate skills and their inspiration always brings tears to the eyes of the thousands.  They wait all year for this as do we.  As for us, in order to perform at the night show you have to win a day time grand championship and that’s always difficult.  The level of skill of the day time winners in the NASKA circuit is unmatched by any other circuit in the country.  Just winning a division is tough.  Winning a Grand Championship is something to be cherished.

This year I got a bunch of second place finished at the Quebec Open, and only one first place.  But you only need one win to compete for the Grand Championship.  I woke up Saturday morning with food poisoning and hate to admit it but I felt like death all morning.  I knew I had to put it together for just two minutes in the Weapons Grand Championship, but had to be my best in order to beat the highly qualified competition.  I was fortunate that the one win qualified me for the Grand Championship and I was able to turn that in to a Grand Championship win.  This was the fifth straight year that I won a Grand Championship at the Quebec Open (2009 – 2014; I did not compete at this tournament in 2012 because i was in California filming the “Figure it Out” TV show).

So another fun weekend in Quebec, until it was time to leave and our luggage didn’t make it out of Quebec.  That was a first, and hopefully a last.

The only sad thing is that the great promoter of the Quebec Opec, Clermont Poulin is now retiring from promoting the event.  Although I am sure that it will go on and be just as great next year, the passion that Mr. Poulin had and the encouragement he always gave me will surely be missed.  Next stop with be up north again, in Manchester New Hampshire for the New England Open.  I’m glad its a month away cause my (formerly) broken toe remains sore and a bit painful and my hip is only a little better that my toe.  Its been a tough and trying year, but I have persevered and succeeded and I am very proud of that.  Hopefully i can continue to inspire all of the younger, and older competitors who have always given me the energy to compete at a high level.

March 2014 – “OCEAN STATE GRAND NATIONALS”

For the first time ever, there were two NASKA competitions in back to back weeks.  Fortunately for me, both were within driving distance for me.  I felt bad for the California and west coast competitors who had to fly home from Philadelphia last wee, only to return to Rhode Island this week.  However, this really hurt my ability to heal my hip and foot and they were both really sore after this weekends competition.  The few weeks off before the next competition will be very welcome.

after returning from the tournament I was awarded my second degree black belt which I had been looking forward to for quite a while.

I had another good weekend, winning six of my eight divisions and placing second in the other two.  After the divisions were done I competed in the 14 -17 CMX girls Grand Championships and I won both the “Weapons” and the “Forms” Grand Championships, giving me five Grand Championships for the year so far.

I got to see Kevin Thompson, one of the great competitors who was recently diagnosed with ALS.  He is a very inspirational man with a great attitude.

On Sunday I was able to coach my Team Epic kids without having to rush back to my own ring so that was pretty good.  They won a bunch of first places and some seconds too.  They are getting really good and I’m happy about that.  It was funny that my good friends and fellow competitors Maia and Amanda had their students at the tournament as well and all of our kids did great and it was great to know that we passing along our knowledge to the next  generation of competitors.

Well, next tournament is in Quebec, Canada and I always look forward to that one.

March 2014 – “AMERIKICK INTERNATIONALS”

2014-03-29 22.28.37-2The year finally took a good turn for me although I never would have expected it.  As a result of the hip and toe injuries, I was unable to train at all for this competition and in fact I didn’t even know if I would compete at all.  I didn’t register to compete and figured it would be a ‘game time decision.’  If it wasn’t a short 2 1/2 hour drive I probably wouldn’t have even gone to this competition as I was about 75% sure that I wouldn’t compete.  It’s hard to compete at a high enough level against such great competitors even if you train hard like I usually do.  But being unable to train for even one minute meant that my conditioning was off and who knew how strong or sharp my forms would be.

One hour before the competition started, and after receiving advice from everyone I know, I decided to register for all of the divisions and try competing one division at a time.  I changed my forms to pamper my hip and toe, taped up the toe and went for it.  I was able to win the Musical Weapons, Musical Forms and Creative Forms division and complete the divisions without further injury and only some discomfort and a bit of pain.

I was so happy that my Tae Kwondo/Traditional instructor made the trip from New York to watch me perform, and that a large group of my EPIC (Hicksville, NewYork) students came to compete.  They all did so great.  They gave a great effort and earned a whole bunch of first and second place finishes in their divisions.

After the divisions were done I competed in the 14 -17 CMX girls Grand Championships and I won both the “Weapons” and the “Forms” Grand Championships.  At the night show, with my EPIC Team, and my instructor cheering me on, I won both the 14- 17 boys/girls overall forms and the 14 -17 boys/girls overall weapons Grand Championships.  Considering that I really hadn’t planned to compete, such great results were inspirational to myself, and hopefully to my G-Force, Straight-Up and EPIC team mates.

Unfortunately, the next competition is only 5 days away and I am really sore and exhausted.  So again I will playing it by ear next week.  While I am cautiously optomistic about competing, and hoping that I have turned the corner on the injuries, I know that  one wrong move could set me back.  Hoping for the best !

 

February 2014 – “COMPETE NATIONALS”

The second competition started off better than the first but ended up a bit worse.  First of all, the weather was nicer.  I got eat at some of my favorite places in the area–In n Out Burger and Panda Inn.  I also went with a bunch of friends, including the Pinto’s to a Sushi restaurant where we stuffed ourselves with all you can eat sushi.

I moved up to the 16-17 year old division this year and when you are the youngest in the division it is always a bit harder to get started.  The seeding is against you and you have to work your way up from the bottom.  My hip was still hurting from the previous competition.  I only trained for two days instead of, well, everyday, and I had to change my form to prevent further injury.  So I didn’t have high expectations but wanted to compete and give it my best.  I won both the Musical Weapons division and the Musical Forms division.  I then went on to win the 14 -17 CMX Weapons Grand Championship.  Then came another setback.  In the 14 – 17 CMX Forms Grand Championship, I caught my toe in one of the rubber mats on stage an heard a ‘crack.’  Of course it was my toe– broken !!  I fell straight down and it wasn’t pretty (see the video above).  I got up and finished the form because that is what I have always done.  I went on to perform my musical weapons form on stage at the night show with a taped up broken toe and a hip which was still hurting and sore.  A second straight physically tough tournament and mentally draining as well.  I am hoping that this latest injury will not ruin the whole year for me.

 

January 2014 – “AKA GRAND NATIONALS”

The year did not start off so well for me.  I came in second place in my first division of the year.  I was recovering from a sprained ankle and I felt some tightness while doing my form.  In the second division i was in the middle of a trick pass and jammed my hip so bad, that I literally crawled out of the ring at the end of my form.  That was it for me that day and for the rest of the weekend.  Not only was I unable to compete, but walking was even difficult.  The feeling was so strange.  I had never suffered such an injury and had never missed more than one division due to an injury.  Missing six divisions was a new experience and hopefully one which would never be repeated.  It was very disappointing.  But I turned my attention to coaching and cheered on my student Kayla as she destroyed her under belt competition in the advanced division and made me very proud. I am hoping that I will be healed by the next competition.

2013

October 2013 – “DIAMOND NATIONALS”

imageThe last of the 6A (highest rated) tournaments of the year is the “Diamond Nationals” in Bloomington, Minnesota. This tournament attracts more local competitors than any other NASKA tournament and this means more competition for me, which is great.  I wash’t really feeling that well, having been sick for two weeks leading up to the tournament.  So I haven’t been able to train and was just hoping to get through the tournament.  All of my points are “wrapped up” for the year, meaning that there were no world championships on the line (I won all 8 of my divisions for the year), and so I just wanted show up and do my best.  We usually go to the Mall of America and some of the local food places but this year it wasn’t meant to be.  It was hotel food and TGI Fridays across the parking lot — not that exciting.

This tournament always starts on time and thats something that competitors love.  I usually come down to the tournament about an hour before it starts to stretch, run through my forms and warm up.  The worst thing is when you are ready to go and there are not enough judges or they do fighting ahead of time and we have to wait for the fights to be completed.  Sometimes we wait 30, 45 or even 60 minutes after the scheduled start time and thats how you get tired or worse, injured from getting “cold.”  So starting on time was great.

I competed in my usual eight divisions and finished first in seven of them and second in one.  This gave me 98 first place finishes for the year, the most I have ever had.  I went on to win the girls 14-17 CMX Forms Grand Championship, giving me 25 Grand Championships and 7 overall Grand Championships for the year.

I won all eight of my divisions for the year (I had more points in those divisions than anyone else) and earned “World Champion” titles for the year.  This gives me 28 NASKA “World Champion” titles.

I want to acknowledge my unbelievable G-Force team mates who also had great years.  Besides myself, my team mates Bella Caracta, Geo Leon and Steven So won Grand Championships and/or performed at almost every night show this year and we were a real force and had alot of fun.

One more thing.  I’m breaking up with Taylor Swift– she was too much trouble !!!  In case you don’t get the joke, I performed my “musical” extreme form this year to the song “Trouble” by Taylor Swift.  I enjoyed using the song and I did quite well with it but for next year, there will be new music.  So to close out the year I decided to have a little fun.  I went to lunch before the tournament (to TGI Fridays, of course) with my good friend Jacob Ellis.  We have been friends for years and years.  He played this song “What does the fox say?”  Its a really really dumb song, but with a catchy tune.  It was so catchy that I instantly changed my music for Friday night and used “What does the fox say?”  I was sure that it was going to be a one time only song.  After winning the division, everyone encouraged me to use it again in the Grand Championship Runoffs, and so I did and won with it again.  In fact, “Tournament news online” reported:

“Sammy Smith teaches us what a Fox Says
With the recent climb in the social world, it was no surprise at least one person would remind us What a Fox Says and Sammy Smith would be that person. Perhaps best of all the form was not only well executed but Smith looked like she was having a great time and enjoying competing with the new song and social classic. Perhaps her video will go viral just like the song has.”

But one thing is for sure; it will NOT be my song in 2014!!!  Have a great winter everyone and see you next year.

September 2013 – “TWIN TOWERS CLASSIC”

The TWIN TOWERS CLASSIC is held in Brooklyn, New York, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge.  It is only 45 minutes from my house and at this time of year, a tournament without getting on a plane or driving for six hours is a great bonus.  I was able to sleep in my own bed and didn’t have to travel a day ahead of time or leave to travel home on Sunday.  So that was pretty good.  I’ve always had pretty good success at this tournament.  This year was no exception.  I won all eight of my divisions, grand championships in traditional forms and CMX forms, and I went on to win the overall 14-17 boys/girls forms grand championship.  Going back to 2007 I have won six  overall grand championships in six years.

 

August 2013 – “DIXIELAND NATIONALS”

The DIXIELAND NATIONALS is held in beautiful Myrtle Beach.  The promoter, Dewey Earwood is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and goes out of his way the make everyone comfortable and happy.  This year I was honored to be named “Female Competitor of the Year” and to receive an award on stage at the night time show, where I also won the overall youths 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship.  The weekend, as always, would not be complete without a round of Miniature Golf with about 20 of my closest friends and competitors.

August 2013 – “U.S. CAPITOL CLASSICS”

photo-47The US CAPITOL CLASSICS is held at the nicest hotel on the NASKA circuit, overlooking the Potomac.  The weather was beautiful and if that was the whole story it would be boring.  But there is much more.  On the way driving down, with my good friend Casey Welch, we got a flat tire and had to stand on the side of the road until it was fixed.  We were on our way to Cadet Tae Kwon Do in Baltimore for a seminar the next day.  We were going to stay at a hotel in Baltimore, but it took us 3 hotels (after the flat was fixed) to find one that we could actually stay at.  The seminar itself the next day was great.  It was my second year at Master Cadet’s school and his students were enthusiastic and anxious to learn.  We went through many types of nunchucks techniques and a nunchucks weapons form.

photo-46After the seminar we went to the Gaylord Hotel for the tournament, and we were joined by Sensei Nick and Stacie Deluca’s Team Epic.  This was there furthest trip of the year so far and they seemed to enjoy themselves.  There were plenty of first, second and third place finishes to go around, but more importantly, everyone had a great time and improved from the last competition.  I am very proud of “Team Epic.”

I had a real good competition too, although nothing could match the results from my last competition in Austin,, Texas at the Lonestar Open.  I finished first in six of my seven divisions and won the CMX girls 14-17 Grand Championship.

The drive home was, thankfully, uneventful.  I am looking forward to the next competition in Myrtle Beach in a few weeks where I am getting an award from Sensei Dewey Earwood as the female competitor of the year.

July 2013 – “LONESTAR OPEN”

photo-36The “LONESTAR OPEN” is held in AUSTIN TEXAS and run by Greg Beaver, who is always a great host.  I have always done pretty well at this competition and enjoyed my trip to Texas, but this year was very special and one I will never forget. I had, for the first time ever, the ‘PERFECT’ Tournament.  I finished in first place in all eight of my divisions.  I went on to win “quadruple grand championships, a perfect four for four.  I won the 14-17 year old girls CMX (creative-musical-extreme) Weapons Grand Championship, the 14-17 year old girls Traditional Weapons Grand Championship, the 14-17 year old girls CMX (creative-musical-extreme) Forms Grand Championship and the 14-17 year old girls Traditional Forms Grand Championship.  That makes 18 Grand Championships for the year.  I then performed at the night time show and won both the ‘overall’ boys/girls Weapons Grand Championship and the the ‘overall’ boys/girls Forms Grand Championship.   A perfect weekend with all wins and not one single finish other than first place.  I have never done this before and it is an almost impossible feat so I am cherishing it.

 

July 2013 – “U.S. OPEN”

The crown jewel of the NASKA circuit id the US Open, held around the 4th of July every year in Orlando, Florida.  Every top competitors goal at the US Open is to get on stage for the night show, partly broadcast on ESPN 2.  When I first started to compete my good friend Erika Dertinger gave me a copy of the 2003 US Open video.  THis was the video of the two hour show which was broadcast on ESPN 2.  I watched competitors who would later become my instructors and friends, like Daniel Sterling and Matt Emig as well as some 10 year old kid named Taylor Lautner, who sported blue hair and ripped off his XMA top to perform crazy bo tricks and who inspired me to believe that some day I could make it to the US Open stage and be on TV too.

Unfortunately, about 4 years ago the ESPN 2 show was cut down from two hours to one, and the youths were cut out of the TV part of the show.  Coincidently, I have made it to the stage to perform in the “Night of Champions”  for the last four years in a row, but none of my performances have been shown on TV.  Nevertheless, its still a thrill to make it to the stage and still the goal of all top NASKA competitors.

Of course the charm of the competition is the “international” flavor, with dozens of countries sending representatives to compete.  Missed my friend Jesse Brady from Australia this year (hope to see you next year).  There were 3,500 competitors, more than triple the amount of competitors compared to the other NASKA competitions.

As to the competition itself, I won 7 of my 8 divisions, and went on to win the 14-17 girls Traditional Weapons Grand Championship as well as the 14-17 girls CMX (creative.musical/extreme) Weapons Grand Championship.

I was proud that Kayla Nunnally of Epic Martial Arts joined me in Florida for her first US Open and came in First Place in two of her divisions.  Way to go Kayla !

Of course, on Saturday night, after the “Night of Champions” show it was off to the big pool for relaxation and the big pool party.  Then off to Universal Studios for some fun, and then, back to New York to train.  Next stop is Austin, Texas in just a couple of short weeks

June 2013 – “Battle of Atlanta”

The next stop on the NASKA World Tour was the famous “Battle of Atlanta”, in, of course, Atlanta, Georgia.  This tournament is well known for its fighting competition but I like it because its the tournament before the US Open and a good test of where my competition forms are for the year.  Everyone is kind of rounding in to shape.  I have to say that so far I’ve been happy with my competition forms.  At this competition I won seven of my eight divisions and then won “Double Grands” (Grand Championships in CMX Weapons and CMX Forms).  Now its few days off and then training hard for the US Open.

May 2013 – “New England Open”

Crazy, crazy weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire.  This tournament is always different than most, because promoter Joe Greenhalgh is always trying something new and sometimes its great and sometimes its crazy.

The first night of competition was interesting.  While my division, the 14- 17 year old girls often “share” our competition ring with the 16 – 17 year old girls, on this night we shared the ring with every single youths girls division, that is, 9 and under, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-17.  While it made for a pretty long night, I also got a chance to see alot of the competitors who I don’t really get to see alot of.  So that was fun.  I competed in five divisions on Friday night and won all five of them.

Kayla, one of my students at Epic Martial Arts

Kayla, one of my students at Epic Martial Arts

Up and coming under belt, Kayla Nunnally showed that she will be a force for years to come, earning second place in her first ever musical weapons division, earning her a spot in Joe Greenhalghs first even”under belt” night time show.  I was happy to be able to encourage her and watch her hard training pay off.

Then it was off to Joe’s unique competition-  “Super Forms.”  If you’ve never seen this you are really missing some fun.  A bunch of competitors subject themselves to ridicule and embarassment and occasional flashes of brilliance.  Each competitor spins a wheel and must give a short performance displaying proficiency (or lack thereof) in whatever category the needle lands on.  The gol is to get through all of the preliminary rounds and get to the Saturday night finals, where the Grand Prize is a pair of Dr. Dre Beats Headphones.  Butt to win, you have to be fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough) for the wheel to land on something out of your comfort zone, and then show that you can adapt to that challenge instantly.  I was lucky enough to advance, along with amazing Cody Sanders to the Saturday night time show finals.

For this tournament I decided not to compete in the Saturday morning “traditional” divisions.  Instead, I watched, coached and encouraged our “Team Epic” underbelt competitors and I am so proud of them.  They did great, with some firsts, some seconds and some third place finishes.  More importantly, they are learning and getting better with every competition.  Considering that this was still only their second NASKA competition, they did great and I know they had a great time.  So I only competed in one division on Saturday morning, the creative forms division and I was able to win that one too.  So for the weekend I won all six of my divisions.

photo-35I met alot of really nice people, signed alot of autographs and met a really nice 9 year old, Olivia Rando who worked real hard with me and whom I hope to see at a NASKA competition in the future (see photo on left).

I went on to win the 14- 17 CMX girls Forms Grand Championship and then it was on to the night show.

For the first time there was an “under belt” night time show and Kayla Nunnally got her first night on stage.  She put on a great performance in what I am sure will be the first of many stage appearances.  Great work Kayla !!

For the night show, Joe Greenhalgh hand picked top competitors to compete head to head.  I competed in the 14- 17 year old girls forms division and I was able to win the Grand Championship there as well.

photo-34So back to the finals of the Superforms.  I went first and spun the wheel and it landed on “Musical Weapons.”  My first instinct was to grab my nunchucks and do my “usual” nunchucks form.  But thats not how you win Super Forms.  So I picked up a weapon I had never competed with before, the sword.  I did my best to seach my memory of great sword competitors like Caitlin Dechelle, Kalman Csoka and Carson Crawford.  Then I remembered some pre-show tips I got from Team mate and great sword competitor Geo Leon and I gave it a whirl.  I thought it was pretty good.  Next Cody was up and he got “Soft Style Forms” and he did a really great form.  Again, something out of his comfort zone.  Next was the most bizarre thing ever.  The wheel landed on “Tonfa” which frankly, is a weapon no one really competes with because it is so hard to show off.  I thought this might be the end, but then no one could find the “Tonfa’s” that had been used the night before.  So now it was judges choice– oh no !!   One of the judges was Drew Derrick Bisbee and if you’ve ever seen him compete, you know that his weapon of choice is the traditional oar (paddle), which is just that.  A wooden oar you would use in a rowboat.  I had never ever picked up tis weapon, let alone used it.  Sure enough, our comes Drew from behind the stage with the oar !! I had to quickly search my memory  of seeing Drew on stage.  I was thinking that this was just like a Bo  but when he handed it to me i was much heavier than a bo and the weight was clearly not evenly distributed.  But I gave it my best shot and it was surprisingly decent.  I think that this effort was enough to convince the judges and even though Cody did great, I was able to win the Dr. Dre beats-  enjoy them dad !! Happy Fathers Day !!

I also got a cahnce to spend time with some of my good friends, Micayla Johnson, Jeremy Epstein and G-Force Team mates Tyler Powell, Steven So, Geo Leon, Vincent Scarduzio, Bella Caracta and Brandon Ballou

photo-6photo-33

So as I said, a crazy weekend, lots of fun and now its off to the Battle of Atlanta in two weeks, after a bunch of “final exams” in school.

May 2013 – “Gator Nationals”

I always hope for a good competition, but just as importantly, good weather at the Gator Nationals.  This tournament is right on Delray Beach and after a fierce competition Sunday at the beach is a nice relaxing change.  Friday nights competition would have gone pretty quickly but we ended sharing rings and judges with the 14-15 year old boys division.  This is good and bad.  Is bad because it makes the competition night longer but its good because I get a break for a while after each division while the boys compete.  I also get a change to watch the boys. most of whom are my friends,

Saturday was a long day, starting with the early divisions, the Grand Championship Run-oofs and then the night show.  After the show it was off to the boardwalk for the “Sling Shot” ride ( I watched), the Ferris Wheel and the BBQ by the beach.

Sunday was beach and get-away day.  Back home for school and training till the New England Open in two weeks.

Good to see my old friend and competitor Tiffany Larsen as well as former ProRank Team mate Josh Quartin at this tournament.

April 2013 – “Quebec Open”

I always say that there is nothing like winning on stage at the Quebec Open.  There is no other tournament where six thousand people pack the night time show and appreciate your efforts, even if you don’t win.  For my second time in a row I was fortunate enough to win on stage at the Quebec Open.

The weather was beautiful in Quebec, and it was nice to arrive, having left our house at 8 am for a two legged, two hour flight, that took us 15 hours from start to finish (we arrived at 11 pm).  We visited our favorite food place, St. Hubert for the best chicken around.

Quebec 2013 Overall Forms Grand Champion

Quebec 2013 Overall Forms Grand Champion

Always wish we had more time to tour the city but the tournament starts at a very early 3 pm on Friday afternoon. and there just isn’t enough time.  I won all 5 of my divisions on Friday night.  Saturday started at 9 am and i won all three of my divisions as well.  Then I was able to win both CMX Grand Championships;  Forms and Weapons.

In the night time show, every member of our G-Force Team (Steven So, Geo Leon, Vincent Scarduzio and Isabella Caracta) made it to the stage.  Quite an accomplishment and I was proud of every one of them.  Under the bright lights, the dark room and the cheer of the audience, I was thrilled to win the Overall 14-17 boys/girls Weapons Grand Championship, making it a really great weekend.

 

April 2013 – “Ocean State Grand Nationals”

Some tournaments are favorites, some are not.  Some are usually good for you nd some re tougher.  The Ocean State Grand Nationals have always been good to me.  This year was no different.  For the seventh year in a row (every year since 2007) I won at least one Grand Championship and was able to perform on stage at the night show.  This year I won the CMX (creative-musical-extreme) weapons Grand Championship.  I also finished in first place in six divisions (creative-musical-extreme) weapons, (creative-musical-extreme) forms giving me 27 first place finishes in the first four tournaments of the year.  I was also glad for my good friend Amanda who won the Traditional Weapons division and my good friend Maia Didomenico who won the Traditional Forms division.

In between all of the karate competitions we had time for more of the “Hyper” games.  I had the opportunity to participate in a great learning experience for the next generation of young martial artists.  I gave a short seminar along with many of my fellow Hyper Pro’s.  We have done this all year at the NASKA tournaments and it is amazing to see how well it is received.  So if you are at a NASKA tournament and have the opportunity to participate it will be a great experience for you.

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Eric Fuchs- Team Epic
First Place Continuous Sparring

 

I am so proud of the great young martial artists from EPIC Martial Arts in Hicksville, New York.  This was their first NASKA tournament and they did great.  I remember my first NASKA tournament, the US Open in 2004.  I was a Blue Belt and I think I finished in 6th and 7th place.  But I had such a great time that I went to another NASKA tournament four weeks later, and improved to 4th and 3rd place.  After about five or six NASKA tournaments  I was finishing with a bunch of firsts and seconds.  I am so sure that this is the path that the EPIC kids are destined to take.  Only a few short months ago most had never picked up a pair of nunchucks.  Since then they have learned the proper use of the weapon, learned a really cool open nunchucks form and they have learned how to perform with the determination of a champion.  They competed fiercely with great results.  For their first NASKA

Madisons First Place Trophy

Madisons First Place Trophy

tournament, those thirds, fourths and fifths were outstanding.  Something to build upon and be proud of. It won’t be long before those are firsts and seconds and I am proud to be a part of their journey.

In two weeks we will be in Quebec.  I am still aching from an early season toe and knee injury and unfortunately their is no time to rest, but the excitement of the Quebec Open silences those aches… for now.

 

 

 

March 2013 – “Amerikick Internationals”

The year is flying by and this was already the third tournament of the year.  Philadelphia is a great city and it was nice to compete again.  This has been a great year so far.  I was able to finish in first place in 6 of my 8 divisions and second in the other two.  I now have 21 first place finishes and 3 second place finishes in m7 24 divisions this year.

IMG_0445This tournament also hosted the very first Hyper Weapons Battle and of course my weapon was the “Nunchucks.”    I won my preliminary round and then performed on stage in the night show for the finals.  I was able to do some pretty cool stuff and narrowly beat my good friend Ross.  After the afternoon competition I was able to teach a short Hyper seminar and sign some autographs for some fans.

After the tournament was over it was off to New Jersey for my second Hyper Certification seminar.  Along with some of the other Hyper pros and Hyper athletes, we took about 50 or so instructors and helped them learn all new Hyper Weapons forms and get into the Hyper positive method of training.  It was alot of fun.

February 2013 – “Compete Nationals”

imageI didn’t think that the second tournament of the year would be better than the first, but it was.  I started off by doing three seminars over two days in Austin and Dallas Texas.  The students were great and I had a great time.  After that it was straight to California for some training at “JAM” and “XMA World Headquarters.”  After a couple of days of cool weather and a little rest (and a lot of chinese food), as well as some “Hyper” photo shoots, the competition began.  While I have had a little success at this tournament before, this was my best weekend by far. Unlike recent years, this year I decided to compete in all 8 forms and weapons divisions and I was fortunate to win all 8 divisions.

With my foot still aching, I had to decide whether to incorporate some tough moves with a potential to aggravate the injury but would increase my chances to win the tough runoffs against great competitors.  The foot has been feeling much better so I decided to go for it.   I won  “double grands.”  ( the 14-17 girls CMX weapons Grand Championship and the 14-17 girls CMX forms Grand Championship).  Then it was on to the night show, where I went against my good friend Tyler Weaver for the overall Forms Grand Championship.  It was really close but I managed to win by 1/100th of a point and take home the overall boys/girls 14-17 Forms Grand Championship and the “Silver Medallion” awarded to the grand champion.   After a very windy flight home, my own bed and some rest.

February 2013 – “AKA Grand Nationals”

Sammy World Champion Awards

Sammy World Champion Awards

When the first tournament of the year is approaching, I get excited and nervous.  I’m excited to try out new forms, new music and to see my good friends again.  I get nervous because I want to do my best.  This year was different than any other year.  I came into the first tournament with injuries to my foot and knee and knew that I would have to adjust my forms to minimize the effect of my injuries.  More about that in a bit.

THe first tournament of the year means we start with the “NASKA Awards Banquetr.”  All competitors received their awards from the 2012 season.  Besides adding two more “World Championships” (in “Musical Weapons” and “Musical Forms”), to give me 20 World titles, I also won the “14-17 Girls CMX Weapons World Championship”, the “14-17 Girls CMX Forms World Championship” and most importantly, the “14-17 Overall Girls/Boys Forms Grand Championship.”  When last year started I didn’t know how I would do for the year, moving up from the 13 and under division to being the youngest in the 14-17

Leo Howard of "Kickin' It"

Leo Howard of “Kickin’ It”

divisions.  Fortunately it worked out great and I had a year that i could only imagine.  So needless to say, the NASKA Awards Banquet was quite rewarding this year and I look forward to next years banquet.

So on to this year.  I started by doing something that I have not done in many years.  That is, to compete in all 8 forms and weapons divisions (extreme, musical, creative and traditional).  I had to take out alot of hard ‘tricks’ from my forms and had to make up for it in other ways.  I was fortunate to win 7 of the 8 divisions, with a second place in the 8th division, traditional forms.  That division was won by Martina Berti, who comes to the United States every year from Italy for a few NASKA tournaments.  This was her first win and I was so happy for her.

I went on to win “double grands.”  I won the 14-17 girls CMX weapons Grand Championship and the 14-17 girls traditional weapons Grand Championship.  Considering the injury, I was so pleased with the tournament.

Even better, I got to meet up with some friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  Leo Howard, star of Disney’s “Kickin’ It”  made a guest appearance.  In 2004, when I competed in my very first NASKA competition as a “blue belt” at the US Open, right there competing with me were future NASKA star Ricky Morris and future TV star Leo Howard.  I had last seen Leo two years ago in San Diego at the AKA American Open and it was good to see him again.

I also got to see Gabby Wolf, who is now competing in various other sports, as well as a bunch of up and coming under belts and old friends.

Finally, it was good weekend for my team, Team G-Force.  We welcomed a great guy and tough Competitor, Geo Leon to the team, and he made it to the stage for the night time performance as did Tyler Powell.  Both myself and Bella Caracta won double grands in the Junior Divisions and best of all, we made it in and out of Chicago without a snow storm !!  Next tournament is the “Compete Nationals” in Ontario California– ahh warm weather !!

 

 

 

2012

January 2012 – “AKA Grand Nationals”

Here we go again !!! The 2012 NASKA Competition season started with the awards banquet Thursday night. Alot of people didn’t make it because of the snow and poor visibility in Chicago. WE came in on Wednesday to avoid to predictible bad weather.

I was happy to attend the banquet where I received my FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP awards from 2011. 2011 was my best year ever, with five world championships, 28 grand championships and 74 first place finishes.

It was great to share my accomplishments with my many NASKA friends who attended the banquet. After all, they are my best friends. No matter what team you are on, the friendship and mutual respect in NASKA is something I have never seen anywhere else.

This year presents a new and exciting challenge for me. First of all, I am moving up from the 12 -13 year old division to the 14 -15 year old division. As it is my first year in the division, I have no seed, meaning that the best competitors from that division last year will all compete after me in every division. Its both inspiring and challenging.

To make it even more challenging, if I am able to win a division, and if I am able to then go on to win a grand championship, I now have to compete in the 14 – 17 year old division for the overall grand championship. So this year promises to be an uphill battle and in many respects, unbelievably exciting.

With all of that in mind, the first competition of the year was a great success. I finished first in my very first division, Extreme Weapons and also first in Musical forms. I also finished second in three other divisions and so coming from the back of the pack we two firts and three seconds was a great start. I then went on to win the CMX (Creative/Musical/Extreme) Weapons Grand Championship and narrowly lost the CMX Forms Grand Chamionship by 1/100th of a point.

Many of my good friends moved up to the 14 -15 year old division as well, and last year, it almost always came down to myself, Amanda Chen for “Traditional” and Jackson Rudolph, on stage competing for the overall Grand Championship. Unbelievably, we all had immediate success, and competed once again against each other for the overall Weapons Grand Champioship.

I was really happy with all of my performances throughout the entire weekend. I added harder karate, more karate tricks and many release moves (releasing the nunchucks and catching them after spinning or flipping). In the overall Grands, I believe that one little slip cost me the Overall Grand Championship as I barely lost to Jackson in a tie-breaker. I was happy that all three of us were able to make such a great impact in our first competition in this age bracket. I was happy and inspired and I am looking forward to the next competition, in California, my favorite state in the whole world !!

 

March 2012  – “Compete Nationals”

The weather was great in California. I got to see all of my California friends and train with them and go out to dinner with them in California and that was so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2012 – “Lonestar Open”

Unlike the beautiful weather that we had in California, it rained in Texas the whole time that we were there. We had delays getting there as did almost everyone else.

But that didn’t stop the fun.

Greg Beaver runs one of the best tournamnets. They always start on time, are always run efficiently and the competitiors are always pleased with this tournament. Its a favorite of mine.

I had a really nice tournament. I won all 5 of my creative/musical/extreme (CMX) divisions and then I went on to win the 14 -15 year old CMX Forms Grand Championship. I then competed against Austin Crain, Jackson Rudolph and Stepanie Figueroa in the 14 -17 Overall traditional and CMX Forms Grand Championship and came in second to near 17 year old Austin Crain, by 2/100’s of a point. It was a very satisfying performance and I felt good about it.

On the left is a photo of Austin and I. I was a 7 year old Green Belt and he was a 10 year old Black Belt who was just about to win his first overall Grand Championship at the Charlie Lee Nationals in 2005.

Also on the left is a photo with Carmichael Simon and his performance team. Carmichael is considered the innovator of extreme martial arts, having been the first to accomplish a “720”, then considered to be an amaxing feat. Who ould have thought that from there the bar would be pushed to 900’s, 1080’s and beyond. Great to see him again.

Finally, congratulations to Casey and Isabella who were both on stage for the first time in the 13 and under overall Grand Championship division, having won their own CMX Grand Championships earlier in the afternoon. I am sure this is the first of many for both of them. The same for Jake Presley, who won his first overall Grand Championship in the 13 and under division. Great job to all. Next stop is a short trip to Philadelphia. No planes–excellent !!!

 

March 2012  –  “Amerikick Internationals”

The shortest trip of the year is always a fun tournament because I get to make a stop at my good friend Amanda’s house (and the ride isn’t too bad).

This tournament was kind of weird and kind of special for me too. I have known Joe Greenhalgh for 8 years and I really like him. He recently started a new team called “G-Force.” The first person on the team was my good friend Vincent Scarduzio. I was happy to become the second person on the team. It’s a new and exciting beginning for me, but with some sad feelings.

I have become such good friends with Prorank teamates Tyler Weaver, Carson Crawford and Aidan Considine and this weekend, for the first time in 5 years, I was on a different team. So I was sad and happy at the same time. Best wishes to all of you and thanks to Marcel & Lynn.

I was happy to meet my new friend Abby. She is just about 10 years old. I worked with her on her competition forms and weapons (see photo on left) and I am sure that she is going to do great things. Keep training and having fun Abby !

I went into the weekend with a really bad knee, which probably cost me first place in one division when me knee gave out and thankfully I avoided landing on my head. Then I hurt my toe while practicing so it was a tough weekend physically, as well as emotionally.

I still managed to end up with 3 first places, 1 second and one fourth and that wasn’t too bad.

I am looking forward the Ocean State Grand Nationals soon and will hopefully be all healed by then.

 

April 2012 – “Ocean State Grand Nationals”

My most successful tournamnet over the years has been the Ocean State Grand Nationals and since its a close four hour trip from New York, its even better.

This year in addition to my usual karate divisions, I participated in the “Hyper” games, a martial arts tricking contest where groups of teams competed against each other and then the final two teams, which included mine, competed on stage at the night time show. My team included myself, Mackensi, Micah and Carson and we were up for some fun andhad a great time.

In the actual competition, I finished first in 2 divisions (musical weapons and extreme forms). I went on to win the 14 -17 year old CMX Weapons Grand Championship, the 14 – 17 year old CMX Forms Grand Championship and then the overall 14 – 17 year old boys/girls CMX/Traditional Forms Grand Championship.

I was happy that my good friend Aidan also won the 13 and under Forms overall Grand Championship and my G-Force team mate Vincent Scarduzio was also on stage for Mens Overall Forms.

It was a fun tournament and another great experience.

 

April 2012 – “Quebec Open”

My favorite night show and one of my favorite tournaments is the Quebec Open, Canada. The people are so warm and they cheer for everyone at tthe night show, no matter what team they are on. They just want good performances. Winning there last year in front of 5,000 people was a highlight of my year.

So it was sad that I was not able to make it to the Quebec Open this year. Instead, I travelled to Hollywood California to tape a TV show, I really can’t say much about the show, but when the “air” date is announced, I will post it so that anyone interested can watch, and now I am really looking forward to the next tournament in a couple of weeks.

 

May 2012 – “Gator Nationals”

After missing the tournament with my favorite night time show, I was looking forward to the tournament with the best beach. The weather was great and I actually got a couple of hours of fun and sun on the beach.

Another special feature of this tournament is the seafood buffet with king crab legs and lots of other seafood, not to mention the great dessert places all around.

As to the tournament, it was another good one for me. I finished first in Musical Weapons, Musical Forms and Creative Forms. I went on to win the CMX Weapons Grand Championship as well.

 

June 2012 -“New England Open”

After countless years in Marlboro, Massachussetts, the New England Open was moved to Manchester, New Hampshire. I guess you could say that is is “not” New York !! There is a “cupcake” store a block away from the Tournament Hotel. The sign on the door says “Hours: 11:30 a.m. until we run out of cupcakes.” Could that be 12 noon ?? Across the street there was an italian restaurant which wouldn’t seat us for dinner at 6:30 !! So the town was not jumping– but the tournament was.

Joe Greenhalgh spares no expense and puts in 110% to make sure that this is a great event. Starting on time, having enough judges and skorekeepers and having mats at every ring are the most important things to the competitors, and Mr. Greenhalgh had it all. The convention center was huge and pleasant and everything ran well.

It was a good tournament for me…I finished first in 6 divisions (musical weapons, extreme weapons, creative weapons, musical forms, extreme forms and creative forms). She went on to win the 14 -17 year old CMX Weapons Grand Championship and the 14 -17 year old CMX Forms Grand Championship and then the overall Weapons Grand Championship.

 

June 2012 – “Battle of Atlanta”

Coming soon!

 

July 2012 – “US Open”

The most prestigious tournament on the NASKA circuit is clearly the US Open. Thousands come from all over the world to this tournament and it is always exciting.

It was good to see my friend Jesse Brady from the Australian Team. He won his continous fighting division– knocking out his opponent to win 11 Great job Jesse and great to see you. Thanks for the Jersey from your club and the cool gifts.

Thanks also to everyone who came up to me to tell me that they saw me on the TV show “Figure it Out” last month. I didn’t realize that so many people saw it.

Thanks tot hose who came up to me at the US Open who have been following me on “Hyper” and have gone to my Hyper seminars. I took photos with alot of you and will be posting photos of many of you in the next few weeks so keep checking back to my new “Hyper” photos section at the end of July.

Besides all of the fun, there was a tournament. I finished first in Musical Weapons, Musical Forms and Creative Forms. I was invited for the third year in a row to perform at the ESPN2 “Night of Champions” night time show which was very exciting.

Now a week of vacation before my next seminar and the next competition.

Thanks again to everyone who I met at the US Open. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

 

August 2012 – “US Capitol Classics”

The last time I was here, last year, the temperature was 95 degrees and I filmed my “Fearsome Forms” DVD outside on the shore of the Potomac River. That was quite an experience. This year was easier. The weather was a little cooler and it was less hectic.

I was able the finish first in 4 divisions and went on to win the 14- 17 CMX Weapons Grand Championship and then the overall 14 – 17 Weapons Grand Championship.

 

August 2012 – “Dixieland Nationals”

This is always a fun tournament and this year was no different. We started our weekend by visiting Carolina Extreme Martial Arts in Tabor City, North Carolina, where the kids were enthusiastic and the Bar B-Q was authentic southern cooking. We had a great time and hope to go back again.

The competition was run a little different this year, with all of the creative/extreme and musical divisions on Friday night and then the runoffs first thing Saturday morning at 9 a.m. This is kind of early to start throwing extreme karate trick combinations but its the same for everone.

On Friday night I won three divisions, Extreme Weapons, Extreme Forms and Musical Forms, so on Saturday morning I was in two runoffs. I won the 14 – 17 CMX Forms Grand Championship.

At the night time show I was able to win the overall 14 – 17 Forms Grand Championship for my fifth overall Grand Championship of the year.

We stayed an extra day to relax on Myrtle Beach, but heavy rains ruined our plans, not to mention the car which insisted on driving through a big puddle and splashing us and getting us soaked!! Oh well. Next stop is the AKA American Open in San Diego, which will include the Hyper Training Camp where I will be instructing in Forms and nunchucks and which will be a great time for all.

 

September 2012 – “Twin Towers Classic”

This is the closest tournament to my house and so it was nice not to have to travel for a change. Last week I was in San Diego California for the AKA American Open, a great tournament, but all the way across the country. I also taught weapons and forms at the first “Hyper Training Camp” and was certified as a “Hyper Pro.” But it was nice to be home this week.

It turned out to be a great tournament for our team, Team G-Force. I won 4 divisions, the CMX Weapons and Forms Grand Championships and the overall Forms Grand Championship. My team mates Isabella Caracta was on stage for both overall Grand Championships in the younger divisions, Steven So was on stage with me for the overall Forms Grand Championship and Vincent Scarduzio won the adult overall Forms Grand Championship. Our teams best event of the year.

It has been an amazing year. I can’t believe how many people have come up to me to tell me that they saw me on the TV show “Figure it Out.”

Next stop is the “Diamond Nationals”, but first a few weeks to recover from a hard summer of competing and teaching.

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