“It’s a cold night in Niagara Falls” – Those were the words told to all of the ready and willing competitors at the 2015 SMAC Internationals. However, at this NBL CanAm event the cold air would have to work hard against the hot competition. Set in frosty but beautiful Niagara Falls New York the weekend of March 6-7, 2015, this tournament attracted competitors from all across the United States and Canada. Sport karate’s elite teams were in heavy attendance during the whole weekend of competition. Everywhere you turned you saw a uniform that sported a logo that featured: Revolution, Empire, United, Grand Slam, Kick Stars, Refuse 2 Lose, SMAC, Team Kumite and the Core Team. The Friday events progressed quickly and allowed everyone the opportunity to have enough time to find a nice meal and turn in early for tomorrow’s competition.

The Saturday night finals began on time and featured dual screens of photographs of each martial arts athlete. This was a feature that we would like to see at more evening finals. Not only does it show a clear picture of who is competing now but it featured a beautiful show of the competitor super imposed over a night time photo of Niagara Falls. A tip of the SMA hat (we don’t have hats…yet) goes to whomever in the SMAC planning committee came up with this idea. Junior forms led off the night with a bang, and a tie from three young warriors. Per NBL rules all three would have to perform another routine and this time Adem Hosanaj pulled out all the stops to take the win. Ewell Carter woke us up with an energetic contemporary form and was backed up by “Uptown Funk”. Even if you didn’t believe him you just watched him accept that award and win the division.

Featured on the flyer of the tournament was El Java Qadir who won the 18+ and 35+ fighting divisions last year. He was on a quest to win back-to-back titles in both divisions and completed part one of this quest by defeating his opponent and capturing the 35+ grands. Team Demo competition featured another innovation that allowed the audience to vote as the 7th judge via the web. The Core team took the title and the majority vote on the web to win Team Demo.

In an exciting men’s team fighting match team Refuse 2 Lose, held off team Empire 15 – 13. Becky Chase bested her big sister to win Junior Musical Weapons and further escalate the sibling rivalry in the Chase household. However, not to be denied, Hope Chase was able to battle back and take the Junior Korean Forms title later on in the evening. Women’s fighting featured a back and forth battle between Emma Levy and Tressa Young. There were many point lead changes and at the sound of the horn Emma established a late lead to take the women’s title. Capping off the evening of superstars was the final piece of the crown for El Java. Earlier he won the 35 + grands and was on the winning side for men’s team fighting. Java capped off the perfect weekend by defeating his opponent and winning the men’s 18+ overall crown.

I’m pretty sure the SMAC 2016 flyer will feature an El Java spread as he doesn’t seem to lose in Niagara Falls. To wind down event the SMA crew were able to squeeze out a bit of time to see the falls on Sunday. When you do attend this event next year make sure to budget enough time to see this awesome natural wonder.