On March 21 and 22, the 2014 Canadian Open Martial Arts Championships brought many competitors together to test their skill, challenging each other for championship titles and prestigious awards. Held at the Palais Des Congrés in Gatineau, Quebec, this event offered all kinds of divisions, including Elite divisions in forms, weapons, and sparring.
Friday night started out with a ton of tough competition in the continuous sparring matches. All of the competitors appeared focused and ready to win. Even the five and six year olds weren’t going down without a fight.
Following continuous fights were some great performances in the Elite Kata and Elite Weapons eliminations. The junior black belt divisions had a large number of competitors, the majority of which chose to show off their traditional forms. After having to do their form multiple times as they moved through the eliminations, Marissa Meandro and Rebecca Young defeated their competition to become the final two in Junior Elite Kata, set to square off against each other Saturday at the Night of Champions show. Raven Wheesk and Andrea Elaschuk won the Junior Elite Weapons divisions, giving them a shot at the championship title on Saturday night. After some exceptional performances in the adult elite divisions, Becca Ross and Denis Vlachos came out ahead in Elite Kata, and Nick Schneider and Tressa Young defeated their competition in Elite Weapons to advance on to the finals for the Elite Championship title and prize money.
The junior black belt boy teams displayed some awesome sparring skills, battling for the opportunity to fight for the championship title on Saturday night. The match between Team United and Team Douvris was a close one. The boys were going back and forth with points, but in the end James Pepetone, Quinn Purdy, and Josh Heyer from Team United came out ahead, with the score finishing at 20-18. The boys went on to defeat Team Bernardo on stage for the Night of Champions show, winning the Junior Sparring Championship.
A great showing of black belt competitors started Saturday morning off strong with their open hand and weapons performances. Stephen Grasz from Team Amerikick dominated in the adult men’s traditional division, taking first place in both traditional weapons and traditional form, only to move on and capture the overall men’s black belt grand championship title later on in the day. The women’s division was looking fierce, with many of them competing in multiple divisions, using all their skills and talent to get them a shot at the grand championship. Becca Ross of Amerikick captured several first place finishes but had a mishandle of he weapons in the grand championship. In the end though, it was Tressa Young who became the women’s grand champion with a fantastic performance.
The energy and excitement out on the tournament floor only continued to grow throughout the day. As the black belt forms divisions wound down, the under belts and the fighters began to arrive, ready to demonstrate their skill and take home the win. In the individual adult competition, Raymond Daniels cleared out the competition to take the men’s individual sparring grand championship. But Daniels was not as successful in the coveted Elite sparring fighting as Jason Grenier had the fight of his life and eliminated Daniels in an elimination round. In the women’s fighting grands, Morgan Plowden set a precedent by winning the title. Her next challenge was the Elite fighting for women.
The elite sparring division saw a lot of familiar faces, including Raymond Daniels, Robbie Lavoie, Avery Plowden, Jason Grenier, Cody Diesbourg, Sam Gagnon, Morgan Plowden, Elyse Gurrell, and many more! With a significant amount of prize money and prestige on the line, not one of the elite fighters was backing down. The men started the division off, and it was one intense fight after another. Fortunato Aversa, Sam Gagnon, Jason Grenier, and Robbie Lavoie battled their way through each opponent they faced, to become the final four who would fight on stage in the Night of Champions show. The elite women fighters continued the pace and excitement of the men’s division, each of them putting forth their best effort to get to the finals. It was Morgan Plowden, Kelsey Freidlender, Tressa Young, and Elyse Gurrell who were able to come out ahead, eliminating the competition to move to the finals.
Due to some snowy weather conditions, the tournament promoters decided to hold the Night of Champions show three hours earlier than scheduled, in order to hopefully ensure safer travel for everyone. This time change did not seem to have any effect on the top competitors. They were completely focused and determined to win, no matter what time they were set to compete. In adult teams, Team Impex took on a motley All Stars crew. The Plowden kids did what was needed to give Impex an early lead but with Raymond Daniels as the anchor, Team All Stars was able to comeback to take the win for the evening.
In her most intense performance of the day, Rebecca Young defeated Marissa Meandro and became the Junior Elite Kata Champion; while Andrea Elaschuk’s traditional bo form scored her the championship over Raven Wheesk’s traditional sword in junior weapons. In the adult divisions, it was Becca Ross and Tressa Young whose performances would most impress the judges with Ross as the Elite Kata Champion and Young as the Elite Weapons Champion.
In the elite sparring finals, Elyse Gurrell and Morgan Plowden started out the action, with Morgan taking the lead and winning the match to advance. Kelsey Friedlender and Tressa Young vied for a spot at the final round, with Kelsey keeping the lead and advancing to face Morgan. In a close and intense match ending in a score of 14-12, Morgan Plowden is declared the winner and Women’s Elite Sparring Champion. In the men’s division, Lavoie was able to defeat Fortunato Aversa 13-8 in an exciting match, advancing to face Jason Grenier after his win against Sam Gagnon. It was apparent that both Lavoie and Grenier wanted to win more than anything. In what had to be the most exciting fight of the night, Robbie Lavoie started out with a lead, 3-1, but Jason Grenier was not giving up. He not only caught up, but stole the lead, until Lavoie tied it up right at the end. As the fighters went head to head in overtime, it was Robbie Lavoie who was ultimately victorious.
Promoters John Douvris and Michael Bernardo offered an event with excellent competition, exciting performances and great organization. Congratulations to the Elite winners and grand champions from the event. Put this one on your list as one not to miss!