Kalman Csoka wins his fourth weapons grand championship at the 2011 Diamond Nationals Karate Tournament
performance on NASKA. Just to intensify the performance, he used a blindfold and still managed to hit all of his releases. It was arguably the best weapons form Csoka has done. Matt Emig stepped up next and threw a cheat 720 twist in the midst of an already difficult trick combination. He hit his releases and showcased a new nun-chuck trick behind his back for the final move of his routine. Former Emig teammate, Anthony Marotta, claimed that it was “one of the best forms he has ever done.” Jarrett Leiker stepped up next to run his traditional bo form. Leiker represented “all traditional martial artists around the world” as he stuck his form with high energy. Caitlin Dechelle got a great crowd response early with her webster at the beginning of her form. Dechelle hit her form hard and was definitely one of the favorites. Olivia Wicker set the pace slower with her traditional form. She had strong strikes and high energy. Becca Ross was the last to enter the stage. Ross threw the best routine seen from her all weekend. The voodoo child at the end secured her with all 9’s and one 8. Despite everyone stepping it up, no one could toppled Csoka this night as he took the win with mostly 10s and a standing ovation.
The Diamond Nationals Superfights were, well, brutal in an awesome kind of way. The final four competitors from the lightweight and heavyweight divisions faced off in semi-finals rounds. The eight fighters were: Jamie Cravens. Troy Sexton, Hamed Firouzi, Larry Tankson Jr, Raymond Daniels, Jason Bourelly, BJ Carnahan, and Elias Lemon.
For the lightweights, Jamie Cravens and Hamed Firouzi were the first to begin the division. Cravens tried to get in close, but Firouzzi kept responding with a fast blitz. In the end, it was Firouzi who would advance. Troy Sexton stepped up next with Jason Bourelly. Sexton scored first but Bourelly responded with a resounding hook kick to Sexton’s face for two points. Bourelly then hit Sexton with two sidekicks for four more points. With Bourelly’s win, the final fight for the lightweight Superfights title was set as Firouzi would face his rival Bourelly again (the two have been the final fighters the prior two years).
The first match for the heavyweight semi-finals was between Larry Tankson, Jr and Elias Lemon. Elias hit Tankson in the head with a sidekick early in the fight and it was like a madhouse as Tankson was determined to show Lemon, and the crowd, that he deserved the win. The two exchanged some heated words and intensified the match with center ref Terry Creamer needing to stop the fight on a few occasions to let the men cool down. Lemon was ahead by more than two points when Tankson scored a kick at the end to bring himself within one point and force an overtime since you must win by two points in Superfights. In overtime, the heat was still on as the men exchanged points back and forth. Just as one got the advantage, the other fighter would score. Finally, Tankson was able to pull ahead and score the needed points to win 6-4 and advance.
BJ Carnahan mimicked the opening routine of his opponent Raymond Daniels in the final match but it didn’t help Carnahan in the end. Daniels started the match with a goal of scoring and he reached his goal with a win in regulation time to move into the final match against Tankson. Considering the many wins of Full Circle throughout the event, everyone was anticipating Daniels’ fight against Tankson, who represents Team Full Circle, for the final match.
Kalman Csoka was the inducted into the Diamond Nationals Hall of Fame at the event. Csoka has been competing on NASKA for 20 years, even though he is only 25 years old! He became widely recognized in 2006 for winning the 18-29 mens musical weapons and creative weapons divisions. He pushed the envelope with sword releases and tricks, and he is responsible for many of the creative maneuvers seen in many sword forms today. From 2007 and on, he has been the leading force in the adult weapons division which motivated competitors around the world to try and rise to the occasion. He has done a remarkable job performing, teaching, and serving as a role model for youth and has trained some fantastic competitors. After his last stunning sword performance, he announced that he is retiring from sport karate competition to take his ambitions in a different direction: med school. From all of us at SportMartialArts.com, we would like to say good luck Kalman, and thank you for so the years of fantastic performances.
Next up was the Team Paul Mitchell world synchronized forms. The first to take the stage was Team Infinity. Infinity wasn’t synchronized as they walked into the ring, but they found each other’s rhythms quickly and hit their form. The crowd favorite seemed to be Austin Crain and Matt Emig representing Team Paul Mitchell. The boys crushed their famous trick combo that runs in a circle. The uniqueness was displayed when they did different moves in synch. Brandon Rasinksi and William Cornell took the stage next to perform their Japanese form. Rasinski and Cornell had taken top scores during the daytime eliminations. They were in sync but not enough to beat Austin Crain and Matt Emig in this final faceoff.
Jackson Rudolph upsettingly dropped his bo in the 13 and under weapons competition in the first performance. Newcomer to the stage, Austin Cody saw it as a door open when he stepped up with his traditional sword form. He had clean strikes and he sold his moves well with pauses. Amanda Chen came in hungry for a traditional win with her bo. Chen was powerful, intense, and clean. Sammy Smith gave Chen a good run for her money with difficult tricks and a 360 release with her chuck, but it was quite enough. Chen took the win.
Shahin Jahan-vash performed a double sword form in the 14 to 17 competition to open that competition. Stephanie Figueroa came up next with a single sword traditional form that made her tremble with the intensity. Micayla Johnson was the crowd favorite with very difficult kama techniques. She risked a lot but received the reward. With a drop from Micah Karns in what was likely to be a spectacular bo performance, Johnson took the win.
Caitlin Dechelle and Becca Ross went head to head in the women’s forms competition with their extreme forms. Dechelle, to no one’s surprise, nailed all her difficult tricks and the form itself. Becca introduced shorts to the extreme division with a unique uniform ensemble. Ross had very clean hands and a great new song – she turned on the heat with a goal of winning the title. Olivia Wicker stepped up for her Japanese form. She hit hard and had intensity, but not enough to beat Caitlin Dechelle.
Austin Jorgenson surprised everyone with his drunken-styled form. He has the best song in the division and was synchronized all the way through it. Jorgenson stuck his strikes immediately after his difficult tricks and set the bar very high for Matt Emig, Kyle Montagna, and Jarrett Leiker. Montagna took the stage next with his Japanese form. He was very intense and maintained his power even at the end of his form. Jarrett Leiker hit all the beats in his musical traditional form. One word to describe Leiker’s progress this year is strength. He was hitting harder than he ever had and it gave Emig the incentive to come in and crush it. Emig came out hard with a corkscrew crowd awakener. He unfortunately stumbled after one of the longest trick combinations he has done in a form which took him out of the running. After the announced scores, there was a tie between Austin Jorgenson and Jarrett Leiker. With the tie breaker, it was an overjoyed Leiker who took the win.
The crowd was ready for the finals to end with some more intense fighting. There was an announcement that Larry Tankston was not able to continue in the Superfights due to a rib injury suffered in his bout against Elias Lemon earlier in the evening. But there are no bow-outs in Superfights. With Tankson unable to compete, Lemon was declared the new winner and he would face Raymond Daniels for the heavyweight title. The fight was intense as Lemon didn’t want to squander his second chance. Daniels was serious as well and picked his shots carefully. In the end Daniels won, 5 to 3, taking his fourth Superfights title and the only fighting title of the event for Team All Stars.
The final event of the evening was the highly anticipated lightweight Superfights championship. It was a repeat of 2010 with Hamed Firouzi, the defending champion, facing Jason Bourelly. Last year, the fight went into a lengthy overtime and this year was no different. When the buzzer rang, the fighters were tied and it went into overtime. Points were exchanged back and forth with one fighter getting an advantage and then quickly losing it as the other fighter stepped up. In the end, it was the Superfight rules that did Bourelly in as Firouzi went up by one point on a punch and a penalty against Bourelly for touching the floor. Needing to win by two points, Firouzi scoped out his target for his final point and went in with a reverse punch to Bourelly’s face when the center ref yelled “go” to score his final point and take his fourth Superfight win.
The crowd was pretty pumped after the last match and was all abuzz with the exciting show they just seen. A great ending to a really great Diamond Nationals where winning the diamond ring really is everything!