On April 11th and 12th 2014, Richmond, Virginia became the new home of the Grand Slam Nationals and it did not disappoint. Jeff Doss and his army of helpers have truly turned this tournament into the premier event of Virginia. On Friday, the competition kicked into high gear with competitors traveling from the North and South to test their skills against one another.
By 3pm on Friday, when most tournaments are still setting up, the GSN was going strong with the Iron Man competition. The Iron Man competition is unique to the GSN and it tests all participants in weapons, forms and sparring. Only those who are truly well rounded in all disciplines will advance. Competitors are required to demonstrate proficiency in all areas of competition with a champion emerging with the ability to say he or she is truly a well-rounded martial artist. Nick Cain, Brett Thomason and Robyn LeBuffe all advanced to the finals for the Iron Man (and Woman) competition.
Friday night featured a verity of competition from breaking, Jr Iron Man challenge, forms, continuous fighting, weapons and Men’s Team Fighting. Friday night’s Men’s team fights boasted 7 teams from Atlanta to Texas. Team Fights started off with a bang showcasing talent from across the region. When the dust settled, Team Velocity and Team Galio were headed to the finals.
Despite having an amazing Friday full of excitement, the events of that evening ended a a respectable time allowing all competitors to have time for a nice meal and a good nights rest. Competition began bright and early Saturday morning and with there being a Denny’s connected to the tournament hotel we felt we had to start our day with a Grand Slam Breakfast (Don’t judge us). Saturday picked right up where Friday let off.
Jeff Doss and his crew have to be praised for the smoothness of this event. All rings were being run with maximum efficiency at all times. Once one competition
had ended the next event was queuing up.
The adult black belt fighting ran like a smooth efficient machine. The women’s division saw victories from: Gina Thornton, Amanda Law, Robyn Lebuffe among others.
Meanwhile, in the men’s division we saw action from division winners: Willie Hicks, Chris Jackson and James Pore just to name a few. The men’s action was not
without consequences. During the competition we saw a torn bicep from one competitor and a suspected broken ankle from Gerald Dawson. We want to wish all of those
that were injured a speedy recovery.
The nighttime finals were presented in a professional and timely manner. With special Grand Slam touches like centerpieces for the ringside tables. There were events for all ages in the finals with the evening competition starting out with junior team sparring. Brandon Greene and Blake Housner captured the team super challenge for junior fighters with Greene starting out the fights with a four point lead.
In the kids divisions, Aidan Kennedy of Team Straight Up was able to get his routine to catch the judges’ eye. He defeated local phenom Aaron Bailey of Team Grand Slam. Kennedy’s next challenge was facing top NBL competitor Jacob Cleary in the junior contemporary weapons finals. Kennedy was up for the task and won a second grand championships.
Cleary was not to go home empty handed. He faced Zoe Brown and Aaron Bailey for the junior Japanese forms grands. Cleary’s bunkai was the winner this evening. Aaron Bailey was up once again in the junior Korean grands and he faced Hope Chase. Chase was able to overcome the clean routine of Bailey to give Chase the grand championship title.
Youth continuous sparring was energetic and fun. Trent Spence and Hector Ortero were the tiny guys who battled with Spence ending with the victory. In girls team sparring, Team ATL brought home the win. For the girls, sisters Hope Chase and Bridget Chase battled for the title. The two fought hard but showed their family love by coaching each other during the break. In the end Bridget came from behind the win the continuous victory.
Tressa Young traveled all the way from Canada to support the event and she was on stage for the adult contemporary form championships. She faced Tim Conkel, Marques Lennard and Vincent Scarduzio. Conkel and Scarduzio tied and had to perform again. In the tie breaker round, it was Conkel with the grand championship title. Conkel was not satisfied with one grand championship title and took the adult contemporary weapons grands too!
Team EWO was represented with Edwin Alejandro winning the senior forms and weapons title. In the adult traditional competition, William Torres won the title.
In the Iron Man competition, Nick Cain was able to perform first with his musical bo. Brett Thomason challenged with a Japanese form and LeBuffe showed that she doesn’t just fight – she whipped out a Japanese form as well. In the end, it was Cain who was crowned the Iron Man champion for 2014.
Kevin Walker of Team Velocity was first out against Willie Hicks of Team Gallio in the men’s team sparring finals. Walker and Hicks ended tied 2-2. Raymond Delacruz represented Velocity and faced Jermond Wiggins in round two. Wiggins ended the match with his team up 8-5. In the final fight, Jeromy Roque of Velocity and Bryan Young fought to determine the winner. As the time wound down, the two had an altercation that resulted in late hits by both sides and a disqualification of BOTH teams.
The individual sparring grand championship matches were not quite as startling. El Java Abdul Qadir fought Sean Elliott for the men’s sparring grand championship and won 8-5.
For the women, Gina Thornton faced Ali Viola. The two battled hard but in the end, Thornton ended with a 7-4 score and the grand championship win. Ryan George first defeated Anthony Merricks of Team Next Level to advance to the final fight for the men’s sparring grand championship. The two finalists were Chris Jackson and George. George left nothing to chance and fought to an 8-4 victory over Jackson to take the grand championship title.
With the competition complete, competitors and families were able to spend time at a nearby amusement park – Kings Dominion – for socializing and to celebrate a successful event.