Compete Internationals held in Ontario, California is one of the feel-good events of the season. Everyone has great things to say, and the sheer number of divisions and events offered is truly staggering. That, coupled with a huge focus on underbelt competition gives it an extra helping of the family-friendly feelings.
Hosted by Mohamed Jahanvash and his entire family, Compete Internationals spanned February 21st through the 23rd and showcased the best in NASKA with some beautiful California weather.
One of the unique things about Compete Internationals is the huge focus on underbelt divisions that occurs on Sunday and even a bit throughout the rest of the tournament. This review is focused primarily on the NASKA eliminations of Friday and Saturday.
With all of that being said, the event as a whole felt a little smaller than some of the other tournaments on the circuit but that didn’t affect the level of competition or energy level of the room. And Compete Internationals was high energy and moved quickly through Friday and Saturday Eliminations.
Plus, there were some old faces who showed up! Jacob Pinto came back onto the stage, winning Men’s Extreme with three 9.99’s and moving straight into the finals. Caitlin Dechelle and Raymond Daniels were also spotted supporting competitors and generally being a presence. Another unique aspect to Compete is the partnership with some WKF Judges. They donated their time to the event and gave the traditional challenge an authentic feel, though there was a little confusion in the beginning.
Saturday Night Finals followed the trend of the rest of the event – a little small, but with the energy and pop to make up for it. One of the huge promoters of that energy was none other than Chris Casamassa, long time martial artists and one heck of an M.C. He brought a level of humor, warmth, and exuberance to the event that was a joy to be a part of.
However, Compete Internationals brought some truly great competitors to the stage for the Finals. It started off with Team Extreme, doing a victory lap of their win earlier in the weekend, and blasting onto the stage with their customary precision and
Team Freestyle started the night off with their Demo. Running a victory lap and showcasing their traditional skills and precision with some great choreography and innovative transitions. Madison Magnotta was next to the stage, taking the Silver Medallion for Girls 13 & Under Weapons and eking out a win over Kodi Molina. Dawson Holt took the title for Boys 14-17 Weapons and set the stage for Women’s Overall Sparring.
The match was between Mouse Millner and Drew Beatty. It was a close fight for two rounds, but Beatty took the win in overtime, ending the match 12-10, and walking away with the silver medallion.
Boys 13 & Under Forms was up next. Matthew Gruita took the win over Gavin Richmond with a beautiful traditional pattern while Kylie Boyer gave an electrifying performance for her win over Megan Butterfield in Girls 14-17 Form. During Boyer’s form, a fuse blew out and all the lights, music, and everything went out except for one lone bulb. Boyer didn’t even blink and powered through her form, in the dark and with massive cheers from the audience, taking the win and showing incredible focus and determination.
For Mens’ Traditional Weapons, Shahin Jahanvash took the win while Alec Jahanvash had a grip malfunction and sent his sword flying into the wall behind him during his form, creating a moment where everyone was slightly confused as to what had just happened. But Alec picked the blade up and finished his form with the same intensity and focus that earned him a place on the stage.
In Womens’ Weapons Overall Morgan Smith took the win with her Chinese style whipchain pattern. Trinity Davis had a solid traditional form but lost her balance and Solange Oliver’s extreme chucks wasn’t quite enough to edge her out over Smith.
Something incredible happened on stage next. Anthony Marquette brought the Jordan National ParaTeam in to demonstrate their team demo. Each member has a disability and they put on a show that had the crowd roaring in approval. Anthony spoke to the importance of his team and thanked Compete for allowing them to be there. It was an inspiring and beautiful moment.
For Mens’ CMX Jacob Pinto did a repeat performance of electrifying the crowd and took the title over Will Nevitt and Aiden Considine. Setting the stage for Men’s Lightweight Overalls with James Pore versus Jack Felton. Felton kept a pretty definitive lead the entire match, at the end of round 1, Felton led 9-3. Pore came out in round two with a vengeance, racking up some points, but Felton kept his lead and ended the fight at 13-9. Winning the title.
Mens’ Heavyweight Overall was between Kevin Walker and Paulo Mareno. Kevin Walker led the first round 5-3. And round 2 was a blur of action that resulted in a 9-9 tie. However, Mareno pulled ahead in overtime, ending the round 11-9 and taking home the title.
Team Sync was Jackson Rudolph and Jake Presley sweeping the stage with their customary power and pizzaz. They were followed by Matthew Gruita and Gabrielle Bastien battling for Boys 13 & under weapons. Bastien won this round, beating out Gruita. Isablla Niccoli took home her title for Girls 13 & Under Form while Megan Butterfield and Kyleigh Boyer battled for Girls 14-17 Weapons with Boyer winning her second title of the night.
Boys 14-17 Form was the age-old battle between traditional and extreme with Diego Rodriguez and Jake Presley both dominating the stage in powerful and completely different performances. Presley took the win for the evening, but Rodriguez held his own.
Womens’ Overall Form was a powerhouse of incredible competitors. Trinity Davis, Kiana Daigneault and Solange Oliver all commanded the stage with their performances. Daigneault took the win for the evening.
Men’s Overall Traditional Form was a showcase of some new and old faces. Austin Guanzon, Rommel Gargoles, and Nicholas Nicolli demonstrated the beauty and power of traditional kata. Gargoles took the win, reaffirming his leading presence in the sport karate world.
Mens CMX Weapons was the final event. Where the previous division showcased beauty and power, this division roared onto stage with speed, energy, and a lot of drops. Jackson Rudolph, Danny Etkin, and Ryker Weaver brought their usual level of showmanship, but it was an off evening as Etkin and Weaver dropped mid form. Both handled it with the grace and good sportsmanship that make them such a pleasure to watch. But left the field wide open for Jackson Rodolph to dominate with his usual intensity, giving the crowd a show, and winning the final event for the night.
Compete stood up to its reputation of quality and California welcome with a weekend of incredible competition, friendly faces, and the quality competition that is the hallmark of every NASKA event. The weather was wonderful, the competition was fierce, and the event with an eye towards that family-friendly feel, and pushing every competitor to their very best, regardless of ability, age, or rank. Compete Internationals has been around a long time, and after this weekend, it’s easy to see why.