Youth team continuous sparring between Hamid Academy and Team Straight Up
The New England Open Saturday eliminations started bright and early and progressed at an awesome pace. From start to finish, there was action everywhere. The local KRANE judges stepped up and ran the underbelt divisions brilliantly, getting all the underbelt competition completed by 1:00 p.m. The black belt divisions, including the special WAKO and continuous sparring competition, were completed by 3:00 p.m. leaving a record amount of time for everyone to prepare for the nighttime finals.
Creative and traditional forms and weapons along with point sparring competition was on the list for competitors. Matt Emig continued to clean up with wins in creative weapons and creative forms as well as both men’s extreme forms and weapons run offs during the day. Dallas Liu was on fire with more wins and he took the 13 & under boys creative/musical/extreme (CMX) and traditional weapons grand championship titles.
The 30 and over competitors rarely get mentioned but they provide great performances and are the ones who have paved the way for today’s youth. Drew Derrick Bisbee was the 30 and over weapons grand champion. Local competitor, Gary Card, who has an impeccable traditional routine won the 30 and over forms grand championship title.
The sparring competition was fierce and hard hitting as competitors battled for supremacy. In the women’s competition, Marissa Mayer showed up and, after not having competed for awhile, managed to make it to the stage. She will face Canadian Chelsey Nash for the title. Mayer and Nash have a long history in the ring having been in the 16-17 girls division with each other for many years. Back in those days, Mayer typically dominated the fights – in the finals tonight, Nash would have her chance to avenge herself as an adult.
In the men’s sparring divisions, the superlight and lightweight divisions were fast and furious. After a tough rematch against Joe Fife, Hamed Firouzi emerged the winner of the men’s super lightweight division. Robbie Lavoie blasted his way through challengers to win the lightweight competition. Chris Walker dominated Joe Boone and then narrowly defeated Damian Rodriguez (Rodriguez came back from a 5-0 deficit to lose by one point). Walker went on to face Samuel Gagnon of Canada, the middleweight winner, for the middleweight grand champion title and won. Firouzi defeated Lavoie for the lightweight grand championship.
Ross Levine had no trouble winning the men’s heavyweight division. He waited around to see who would face him for the grand champion title as the men’s light heavyweights lined up. The heavyweights involved a rematch between Jason Grenier and Raymond Daniels, the two fighters who brought us great entertainment in the men’s team sparring competition on Friday night. This time, although Grenier was willing, he was left wanting as Daniels took the win and moved on to face Levine. In this match up, it was Daniels winning again – on a mission after his Friday night loss. Daniels went on to defeat another Full Circle member, Hamed Firouzi, as Daniels advanced to the stage to face Walker.
And, as all the competition ended and we were leaving the competition arena, Kyle Richards walked in. He had flown all the way from California but plane trouble caused him to arrive too late to compete. In addition, his iPod battery had died, rendering him incapable of fighting. Instead, he entertained us with his grace and personality and invited us all to an evening of clubbing at Applebee’s.
It was a packed house for the New England Open finals. The event opened with the SportMartialArts.com New England Open Sampler and jumped right into a demo by Team 100% Performance. Even though Team 100% had already won during the daytime, they still put on a strong show for the crowd. In fact, Team 100% Performance took all multi-person divisional wins with Vincent Scarduzio and Jess Goldman winning the synchronized team competition as well. Scarduzio and Goldman delighted the crowd with a demonstration of their winning routine later in the evening.
The competition started with the 13 and under youth weapons overall grand championships. Sammy Smith started it out with her nunchuck performance and she was followed by little Dallas Liu who was having the tournament of a lifetime but a drop at the end took him out of the competition. The traditional competition was represented by Amanda Chen and her traditional bo routine. In the end it was Chen with her first win of the evening.
The 14-17 youth forms grand championships started with Sarah Calande and her traditional performance. Calande was good but she was followed by Micah Karns who is unstoppable. After Karns flipped his way across the stage, Mackensi Emory realized she would have to be completely on in order to win. She looked stronger than ever with her tricks; not missing a beat. Two judges gave the win to Emory but it was Karns who had the majority of the votes for the win.
Women’s weapons was next on the agenda as Becca Ross and Caitlin Dechelle took the stage. MC Vince Johnson found Ross’ performance nearly biblical. Dechelle and her sword left nothing to chance as she sliced through all her imaginary competitors with a powerful performance. The scores were incredibly close and it was Dechelle who managed to make it to the podium.
Kyle Montagna started the men’s forms grand championships with his traditional form performance. He was followed by Matt Emig who was, simply, amazing. The final competitor was Mickey Lee. Lee’s smooth moves were well received by the crowd and he finished his performance with strength and grace to the very appreciative audience. The judges were split but the majority gave the win to Lee to the crowd’s delight.
The fighting action started next with the junior continuous team sparring competition. Little Nasem and TJ of Hammides Academy faced Javier and Tay of Team Straight Up. The kids were so tiny, we almost couldn’t see them but they fought big on stage. Despite their diminutive sizes, TJ and Javier almost knocked each other off the stage a few times. The crowd loved every minute of it as the kids were cheered loudly. Javier won the first match.
In the second round, Tay was off the line and on Nasem like nobody’s business. Nasem stayed in it and the match nearly turned into an MMA championship as the two had to be physically pulled apart at every break and found themselves on the floor often. The crowd was laughing hysterically as the two went non-stop with their oversized gloves. In the end, Tay was declared the winner of this mini-Gladiator round while Javier danced on the sidelines and TJ and Nasem threw aerials and splits. These four 6-year-olds provided tons of entertainment and are the future of the sport.
The 13 and under forms championships started with Danny Etkin and his extreme performance. Etkin was red-hot and looked very strong. Amanda Chen was back for the second time with her traditional Japanese performance. Chen was incredibly precise with her routine. The final challenger was Sammy Smith – back again and this time with an extreme performance. Smith made the division harder for the judges. The judges were all over the board with scores and in the end, it would be Chen’s traditional performance that would take the championship title for her second win of the night.
Stephanie Figueroa led off the 14-17 weapons grand championships with her extreme sword routine. Figueroa shows why she is a top competitor in her division with her clean tricks and strong strikes. The boys’ traditional weapons slot was represented by Cole Eckert and his bo. He poured his heart and soul into the performance and was followed by Jasmine Kitterman and her traditional routine. Kitterman is just starting to make a name for herself in competition. With good lines and powerful strikes, she looked great on stage and she demonstrated some amazing kicking ability. The final competitor was Micah Karns with his bo in hand and sideburns on cheeks. He didn’t bother with music and managed to silence the chattering crowd with his amazing bo tricks – and then made the crowd gasp in amazement. There were no doubts for the judges as Karns walked/flipped away with the title.
Women’s sparring would be a big rematch as Chelsey Nash faced youth rival Marissa Mayer for the title. Mayer, who has been absent from the ring for a few years faced the seasoned Nash. Nash was patient and methodically scored her points one at a time, finding herself up 5 to 0 with only a few seconds left. One more point was scored by Nash and Nash was crowned the winner. The question is – will Mayer take this back to the training gym and return to the ring for a full comeback?
As always, promoter Joe Greenhalgh had something special for the finals and the crowd was