This year’s North American International Karate Championships (NAIKC) were held in Dearborn, Michigan at the Edward Village Hotel and Conference Center the weekend of September 16-17, 2016. The first thing you notice when you walk into the NAIKC is how very busy it is. Karate tournaments of all sizes are always something of an exercise in controlled chaos, and promoter Conell Loveless’ event is no different. The NAIKC has been running for a number of years, but this year it needed to bounce back from a few minor issues that came to light last year. And did it ever! This year’s NAIKC was energetic, positive, and showcased some fantastic competition at all levels.
Friday night was the launch of set fights during the evening eliminations. There were some great fighters from all over the country that Mr. Loveless had asked to showcase their skills. They came to the stage with a determination and passion that was evident to all. It was a great way to start the weekend, and really set a tone for the competition to follow.
Saturday’s events kicked off in high gear and everyone was pleased and excited to see Sen Gao arrive with a small contingent of students! Daytime eliminations were a hectic time and there was a lot of buzz about the finals. Mr. Loveless had great cash prizes for all adult black belts, and Apple iWatches for the junior and under black belt overall champions.
The opening demonstration of the Nighttime finals was done by none other than Team Revolution’s Puerto Rico crew. They put on an exciting performance and showcased some great skills. From there, the evening went straight to sparring. Team Empire took the Grands for Junior Black Belt Team Sparring. Men’s team sparring was a super tight match between Team FKB and a mixed team of Kevin Walker, Anthony Merricks and Mathieu Williams. They tied at 13-13 and Team FKB took the title with a controversial spin hook kick from Lucas Roberts. Later in the night Team Impex’s Morgan and Avery Plowden both took Men and Women’s sparring Grand Championships in clean, controlled matches.
The kata portions of the evening showcased some spectacular performances, and fierce competition. Mr. Chad Mattice took the Under Belt Men’s Kata Grand Championships while Sen Gao and Abia Williams battled for the Chinese Division. Sen Gao took the title with his customary energy and showmanship, wowing the crowd with his high flying skills.
In the traditional division, Brett Thomason beat out Jacob Bianchi. Both competitors showcased beautiful traditional patterns emphasizing the power and focus of hardstyle kata.
Colin O’Brien took the Junior Black Belt Title with a high energy bo form. Jackson Rudolph swept the Contemporary Grands with his customary crowd-pleasing performance, not to mention some truly spectacular weapons work.
Over the course of the weekend Mr. Loveless was on the microphone several times advocating for building a new generation of competitors. He stressed the importance of supporting the young men and women who were putting themselves out there and giving it their all. He also spoke on building relationships and maintaining ties with as many fellow martial artists as possible. This year’s NAIKC was a welcome breath of fresh air. With a new purpose and sense of energy, Mr. Loveless hosted an event that exhibited top level competition while at the same time focusing on the competitor and building ties between martial artists.