The 2013 Kumite Classic was a banner year for promoter Bill Viola. Held May 24-25, 2013 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, (just outside of Pittsburgh) the event celebrated its fourteenth year with growth. Viola saw a huge increase in participation at an event that he has been building as part of a unique setting – a fitness expo. The Kumite Classic took up half of the event arena with the other half filled with body builders, weight lifters, nutrition booths, a climbing wall and more.
The surge in participation made it clear that the event space will need to expand and Viola is ready – “I have the entire center next year and I will expand the competition space to accommodate the growth in numbers,” he vowed. “2014 is our fifteenth anniversary and I want to offer competitors something really special.” It is clear that Kumite Classic has hit tournament maturity.
The event not only saw a growth in numbers, it highlighted the return of a number of NBL competitors who took a break and returned – all grown up. Ashley Artese took a three year break to complete a college degree and returned in 2013 – a little rusty but still dominating in the women’s divisions. Kyle Petrosky made the drive from Ohio where he is completing his college degree and found himself on stage fighting a continuous sparring match against Billy Leader – another ‘kid’ who grew up in the NBL. Leader is one of three of Viola’s students who have helped him to build his school and tournament to the level they have reached today. Dominic Leader and Viola’s sister Ali were also instrumental in the Kumite Classic accomplishments.
Another NBL junior turned adult was at the forefront of the competitors at Kumite with Nick Cain, who created a new team – Refuse 2 Lose (R2L). R2L fielded two teams in men’s team sparring, R2L Red and R2L Silver. First, Team ATL’s Jermond Wiggins, Kevin Walker and Ryan Johnson toppled the strong line-up from Team Plowden consisting of Kyle Petrosky, Jeromy Roque and Avery Plowden in a close and exciting match-up. It came down to the final match between Plowden and Johnson with Johnson in the lead by nine points. Plowden nearly brought his team back but Johnson held off the “Predator” Plowden to advance his team. However, ATL was ultimately eliminated by R2L Red’s El Java Abdul-Qadir, Sam Simeon and Justin Jones who advanced to the finals.
In the other bracket, R2L Silver’s Nick Cain, Jacob Gunn and Daniel Marshall brought down a strong Team Kumite led by Billy and Dominic Leader. It would end with R2L Red facing R2L Silver in the finals.
Adult fighting was also up for grabs as top female competitor Chelsey Nash was in the house but recovering from the flu so she did not compete. The women’s divisions fought down to Morgan Plowden and Gina Thornton heading to the stage for the championship. For the men, the champion from the Grand Slam Open, Jermond Wiggins was eliminated while Avery Plowden, Jeromy Roque, Adam Medford and Billy Leader made it to the finals.
The finals brought everything to a head as it would be the test to see who would go home with Kumite bragging rights. It turned out to be a great ending to the action at the 2013 Kumite Classic. It was double wins for Sen Gao in adult contemporary forms and weapons – he asked the crowd to enjoy his performances and did not disappoint. His drunken style form was convincing and his whip chain scary. The judges were impressed and so was the audience. Of note, Nick Cain purposely broke his bo over his knee at the end of his creative routine. We’re expecting him to go through a small fortune in bos if he plans to make that his standard ending.
R2L Silver’s Jacob Gunn, Nick Cain and Daniel Marshall went down to the wire against R2L’s El Java Abdul-Qadir, Sam Simeon and Justin Jones. Cain tied it up in the second round and Jones and Marshall went into battle mode in the final round. Marshall was able to hold on to give Silver the win.
Alex White brought home a victory in junior musical forms while Jacob Cleary stays red hot in junior musical weapons with his win on the heels from his victory at Grand Slam Open. It’s 10 grand championships in a row for Cleary. The question now is can he be beat in 2013? So far, the answer is no. Devon Javois showed his deep inner chi with his win in Junior Japanese while Hope Chase went hard to win a victory in Junior Korean.
The Adult Traditional Finals was impressive with five exciting competitors going head-to-head. David Coppock yelled and stomped his way through his Kenpo routine. Ashley Artese and Andrew Cabilan were intense with their Japanese performances. Daniel Marshall’s straight up kicks reminded everyone what flexibility in a Korean routine really looks like. In the end, it was Joey Castro’s traditional weapon that was the most impressive. Castro was so impressive that he received all perfect 10s from the judges and was declared the winner.
Hunter Williams had a come from behind victory to win the 15-17 boys heavy continuous fighting. Sara Russell and Brigid Chase also took home continuous titles in the finals in an energetic fight. Kyle Petrosky and Billy Leader put on a show in adult continuous with Leader ending up the winner by a mere 2 points.
Jermond Wiggins brought home win number one for “kids trained by Richard Plowden” in the traditional kumite division. Wiggins fought Billy Leader (one of the three times Leader was on stage in the finals!). In the traditional competition, the competitors wore no helmets and thin sparring gloves. Techniques had to be focused, hard hitting and clean. Wiggins was able to land some nice shots to win the match. He came out of the division with a nice cut under an eye and Leader took some nice shots as well.
After the Wiggins’ triumph, the Plowden siblings gave their dad the trifecta as Morgan Plowden won the women’s point sparring grands and Avery Plowden took the men’s title. Morgan went hard against Gina Thornton as the two put on a show. Avery had a very close match against Billy Leader (who was on stage AGAIN!). Leader came from behind to tie the score late in the match and with stop-time during the final 30 seconds according to NBL rules, Avery and Leader exchanged points down to the wire. In the end Avery managed to hold onto a lead as the buzzer sounded. Proud dad Richard Plowden posed with Jermond, Avery and Morgan on stage after the competition as the kids – now all grown up – showed off their successes.