In beautiful Santa Clara, California over the weekend of April 8-9, 2011, Jordan and Felipa Pallen hosted their annual Golden Date Internationals, promising great competition and lots of fun! The turnout was great, hosting people from all over the USA, Canada and Mexico. And the host Jordan and Felipa Pallen offered their typical charm and humor in welcoming people their event. Josh Durbin and Darrel Lewis came out of nowhere to make a return to the NBL at this event, and both performed well in their respective creative divisions. Nick Cain did well at his first national event as an adult, securing top three finishes in many of his divisions. Finally, the fighting divisions were stacked, with one featuring the above mentioned Cain, Jack Felton, and Julio Castro.
As to be expected, Jordan Pallen brought the Pallen humor to the stage during the finals as this year, he went tie-dyed and fancy free with his onstage welcome and performance for the crowd. While his poor wife Felipa cringed behind the stage, Jordan Pallen brought down the house with laughter. The fantastic contrast between this couple is one of the great things about the event.
The competition in the night finals started off with the boy’s Team Sparring division. The hometown-trio of Jonathan Linan, Jordan Ortiz-Pallen and Jerelle Calvin representing Team Pallen faced off Angel Caliz, Bobby Seronio and J.P. Bautista representing Team Proper. After Proper took a commanding lead in the first fight, Pallen and Calvin fought their hearts out to come within one of Proper. Bautista was able to hold off Calvin for the win, however, leaving the crowd with an exciting finish to the first division.
The next division on the bill was the Junior Choreographed Musical Forms Grand Championships. Newcomers Zack Gaona and Sean McNeil faced finals mainstay Karina Hipolito. Gaona and McNeil’s tricks weren’t enough to hold off the incredible kicks of Hipolito as she took home the grand. Since the Junior Contemporary division was finalized, it was then time for the adults. Josh Durbin’s return was too much for soft stylist Jasmine Magallanes to handle, as his amazing tricks were enough for the win. Next was a Golden Gates only finals event – the Junior Kenpo/Kajukenbo Forms Grands. Karina Hipolito faced off against Pallen’s Ryan Duarte and Maile Mendiola. Mendiola’s fantastic technique got her the grand at her home tournament.
After a quick judge change, it was time for Junior Continuous Sparring divisions. The 11-Flywiehgt competitors were some of the smallest kids you could ever see in a ring, but boy they could fight. Marco Gonzalez all the way from Hermosillo, Mexico was able to beat out Branson Howard of Pinnacle Martial Arts. Wilhen Jorge of Seronio Martial Arts defeated Mathew Hernandez of Team Fresh in the 11- Middleweight division, while Bobby Seronio III defeated Francisco Colorbio of Team Alchemy in the 12-14 Lightweight division. Houston’s Sage Northcutt defeated Kevin Burton of Hermosillo in the 12-14 Heavyweight division right before Sean McNeil defeated Jose Chavez in the 15-17 Lightweight division. The final continuous match of the evening featured Alexis Bricker from Team Fresh who took on Dhaire Portillo of Team Alchemy. In a battle of El Paso supremacy, Bricker of Fresh defeated Portillo of Alchemy.
After another judge change, it was time for the Contemporary Weapons divisions. First in the Junior Choreographed Musical Weapons Grand, Karina Hipolito was at it again this time against Canadian Trevor Brownell. In Brownell’s first year in the 15-17 division, he was able to defeat Hipolito and take home his first national grand. Next for the Adults, Josh Durbin and Jasmine Magallanes renewed their rivalry, this time against Darrell “Gandhi” Lewis, making his long awaited return to the NBL. Although Gandhi and Magallanes put on a strong showing, Durbin was unstoppable this night, as took home his second grand champion title.
Next was more sparring, starting off with the Men’s Team Division. Team Proper’s Leon Jefferson, Bryan Young and Ryan Gonzalez faced off against the new look of Bay Area’s Best, featuring Joshua Pittman, Joshua May and Michael Jefferson – the team was eerily
similar to one we used to know as Frohm’s Martial Arts! After close contested fights, the speed of Bay Area’s Best was too much for Proper to
overcome, as they took home the win 17-13. Next in the 15-17 Girl’s Point Sparring division, rivals Colbey Northcutt and Ashley Grant fought out their differences, with Grant coming out on top. Speaking of rivalries, Colbey’s younger brother Sage faced Jordan Ortiz-Pallen. Both competitors have traded victories recently, and this time it was Pallen taking the win. Troy Whaley eventually fell to Paul Mendoza in the Senior Men’s Point Sparring Grand, after an exciting chess match.
Traditional Forms was next, starting with the Junior Japanese Grands. Adryanne Angat faced Mara Hipolito. Although Hipolito’s power was undeniable, Angat’s clean technique was enough for her to take the win. After the Junior Japanese, the adults took the stage for the Adult Traditional Grand. Mike Spizzuco, Max Trujillo, Joshua Pittman, Natalie Aquino and Scott Wu took the stage. After it was all said and done, it came down to hometown favorite Scott Wu and Jersey native Mike Spizzuco vying for the grand. With a little help from Brandon Bertsch, in the form of his gi top, Spizzuco’s power and intensity drew the only 10 of the evening, giving him the win. Adryanne Angat would go on to win the Junior Korean grand as well, due to two bow-outs.
Finally it was time for the Men’s and Women’s point sparring grands and this was definitely a great way to end the evening. After a bow-out by his opponent allowed Jack Felton to move on to the final round, Bryan Young and Leon Jefferson faced off for the right to get into the finals. Jefferson is actually Young’s student so this fight was definitely one to watch. Would student finally rise up to overcome his teacher? The answer was “yes” as at the very last second, a Jefferson head kick allowed him to move on to the finals to face Felton.
Before the men battled, the women took the stage. In the women’s final, Marielle Gonzalez faced All Star Gerrica Trias. Gonzalez would go on to defeat Trias and take the grand. Next the men faced off. This time Jefferson was unable to get the win. Felton’s pure speed was too much for Jefferson to handle, as Felton took home the cup and cash.
Shout out to the Pallens for another great GGI event. The only question remaining is what will Jordan Pallen wear next year?