covers the 2012 Golden Gate Internationals

Leon Jefferson makes the Golden Gates his house with the men's sparring grand championship title.

It was new location for the best sport martial arts tournament on the bay – the Golden Gate Internationals – as it was hosted at the convenient Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, a stone’s throw away from the airport. The event was held March 23-24, 2012. With competitors from the USA, Honduras, Mexico and Canada the tournament definitely qualified as an international event.  Promoters Jordan and Felipa Pallen opened the event by taking to the stage and giving a warm welcome to the crowd. Jordan seized the opportunity to put his rapping skills on display to the crowd’s delight.  Shortly after MC Jordan P entertained the crowd, the tournament floor exploded with competition.

Team Proper, led by Junior Salientes, was fully represented, ready to go and hungry for the Friday night continuous and team fighting events.  The boys’ team sparring was where Team Proper first succeeded, winning its opening match against Team Alchemy to advance to the night time show.  Of worthy note was the battle between Team ASK and Team Pallen that went to overtime with each team tied at 26.  It was Team ASK (Arceo) that scored the final point to advance to fight Team Proper on stage.

In men’s teams sparring, Team Proper brought Patrick Salientes, Alex Arceo, and Leon Jefferson to battle Team Fire & Ice.  Salientes and Arceo garnered a 15-8 lead before the final match where a fired up Leon Jefferson closed the door for a 26-11 victory.  After scoring the first blitz Jefferson announced “This is MY House!” to the crowd.  Going forward we will refer to Jefferson as Leon “My House” Jefferson, which actually is a little foreshadowing for the tournament.  Straight Up also fielded a team to take on Team Kick Start.  Kyle Richards and Joshua May of Straight Up gave the team a 7-6 lead into the final round where Justus Lawrence showed off his kicking and blitzing skills to carry Straight Up to a 15-10 victory.  They would go on to face Team Proper at the night time show.  Team Kick Start and Team Proper also fielded teams for the mixed team sparring division (18+ M, 18+ F, 35+ M).  The story of these team fights was Gerrica Trias who propelled Team Proper to a win with a 9-2 opening round.

On the Friday night stage many of the forms division got it cranking by blasting dubstep and showcasing some high flying tricks.  Sage and Colby Northcutt showed that they’re still the competitors to beat by winning many of their divisions.  The most notable highlight of the night took place when youth competitor Ashley Morris performed her kama routine.  In the midst of spinning her kamas one of them took aim at the top of her skull.  Despite the accident, Morris continued her form and immediately got some medical attention for the wound on the top of her head.  Later on that night I was happy to see Ashley doing just fine laughing and goofing around in the elevator.  Look for her heroic video to be posted soon!

The Saturday afternoon competition brought in some huge crowds for divisions such as Jiu Jitsu, Stick Fighting, Flag Sparring, and Point Kickboxing.  Dozens of junior competitors showed off their arm bar and take down skills and the crowd exploded with cheers as competitors slugged it out in the point kickboxing matches.

The men’s 45+ men’s point sparring division was a thrill to watch as it appeared that whomever could fight without injuring himself would win the division. Two fighters blow hamstrings in their fights amongst several other smaller injuries.  Mark Lawrence was able to keep it together to win the division for the heavyweights.

The men’s middle weight division was the stage for many entertaining fights starting with Jason Holmes drawing a tough first round fight against Justus Lawrence.  The two went point for point until Lawrence was able to prevail with a one point lead as time expired.  It didn’t get any easier for Lawrence as he fought Alex Arceo next.  Arceo’s quickness and agility were the key to keeping up with Lawrence to force an overtime. After several exchanges, Arceo finally got the winning point to move on and he would eventually win the division.  He would then go on to face on team mate Leon “My House” Jefferson in a somewhat lighthearted yet competitive fight that went back and forth until Leon took a lead and held on to move on to the night time show.

“Yarr Matey!!”  “Shiver me timbers!”  “Prepare to be boarded!” You can always expect a creative and rather crazy theme for the Golden Gate covers the Golden Gate Internationals

Promoters Jordan and Felipa Pallen went all-out Pirate for the tournament theme.

Internationals.  Yup, Jordan and Felipa Pallen went all out Pirate for the night time show wearing Jack Sparrow outfits right down to an eye patch.  Gold coins, treasure chests, and tasty pirate treats littered the night time show.  A choreographed pirate form and a few motivational words from Captain Jordan set the stage for a very unique night time show.

Chance Maxwell got the night time show fired up with a fast moving routine to the Skrillex remix of Cinema, unfortunately Chance had to redo the form after missing one of his tricks towards the end of the routine.  His sister, Jordan Maxwell took the Junior Choreographed Musical Form Grand title after a routine a tightly choreographed form to “I Feel so Close to You Right Now.”  It was so well choreographed that one of the judges was compelled to give 3 points (out of a possible 2) for the choreo score.  In the adult Contemporary Forms Grand championships, Darrell Lewis got some serious air time and a couple of 10s from the judges to take the title.

Team Proper was at it again in the men’s team fighting finale taking on Straight Up.  Round one saw a back and forth tied match between Kyle Richards of Straight Up and Alex Arceo of Team Proper.  It was Leon “My House” Jefferson of Proper who fought fast and furious against Joshua May to give Team Proper a nice lead into the final match where Justus Lawrence would have to make a come back against Bryan Young of Proper. It looked like it might be possible for Lawrence after Young suffered a knee injury early in the fight.  However, after eventually getting back up Young was able to fend off the kicks of Lawrence and even score a couple back fists to clinch the title for Team Proper.

Next up Team Proper attempted to make it two in a row against Team ASK in the boys’ team fighting championship match.  In the first two fights Team Proper steadily built a 7-1 lead and looked confident going into the final match.  That’s when John “Jet” Manuel of ASK had seen enough and delivered far reaching and quick blitzes over and over again.  Manuel was in an absolute zone, outscored his opponent 14 -2, and carried his team to a 15-9 victory.

Jordan Maxwell got down to business again to get a 2nd grand, this time in the Junior Choreographed Musical Weapons division.  In the Adult Contemporary Weapons division ,a strong routine from Taylor Lynch earned a couple of 10s for the title.

In the next fighting divisions, Captain Jordan Pallen in full pirate garb took the stage to coach son Jordan Ortiz-Pallen (JR) against Luis Forastieri for a Junior Fighting title.  JR was calm, cool and collected despite an excited and amped up pirate coach behind him. JR built up a 3 point lead with little time left.  Amazingly, Luis tied the match up in the final seconds by landing a cart wheel kick to send the match to overtime.   JR was able to overcome the final exchange in regulation and earn the final point to bring a big win to Team Pallen and the Captain.

Brandon Aquino showed off his intensity and then his big smile after winning the Junior Japanese Forms Grand.  Jordan Ortiz-Pallen was back and exhausted after working hard to get the Junior Kajukenbo grand championship title. Next up Brandon Bertsch entered the ring in the Adult Traditional Forms and Weapons Grand Championships with thunderous stomps to the floor.  An extremely intense, focused and hard hitting routine earned Bertsch the title with a perfect score as he received 10s from all five judges.

The final competition of the evening would be the men’s overall sparring championships.  Julio Castro showed off his experience and skill to move past Karl Bettencourt and face Leon “My House” Jefferson in the finale as Bryan Young was forced to bow out due to the knee injury he suffered in team fighting.  Jefferson was very emotional and extremely fired up as he quickly got off to a 4-0 lead before Castro wisely called a time out to rethink his strategy.  It clearly paid off as Castro rallied to to tie the match and take a lead late into the fight.  With a one point lead Castro attempted to kill the match with a cartwheel kick, but Jefferson was on to him and landed a ground technique to tie the match and send it to overtime.  Castro landed a close side kick in overtime but only got two judges’ calls.  Jefferson pounced on the opportunity and scored the final point in a close clash.  Overcome with emotion Jefferson dropped to his knees in his victory.  


Not to be out done, Captain Jordan brought the tournament to close in the best possible way – with a drawing for cool prizes!  The Pallen’s had a drawing for dozens of great things including iPods, a Kindle Fire, and an iPad amongst many other fantastic prizes.  A fitting end as treasure, and then more fun times, were captured by competitors and fans alike.