The 2014 NCKA Finals karate tournament was held this past Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the Fridley Senior High School in Minnesota. What an awesome event to finish of the 2013-2014 season! This tournament had a full day of divisions for every level of competitor, including divisions in empty hand forms, weapons, and sparring. In addition to the competition, the NCKA Finals holds an award ceremony to honor the top black belt competitors of that tournament season.

The tournament opened with the Mega Team division. There were many teams out there performing, especially in the advanced division, providing everyone an opportunity to see a variety of unique and exciting forms.

Later on in the morning, the gym floor was packed with black belts! This made the competition intense, with the competitors harnessing all their talents and efforts in order to have a chance at the grand champion trophy. Gazing across the floor at all those awesome performances, it became apparent that Team Infinity came to win, with four members competing in and winning in their grand champion divisions. Noell Jellison was named the grand champion in the Girls 13 and under division, while brother and sister Luke and Aubrie Stangl took home the trophies for the Boys and Girls 14-17 divisions. Finally, Joseph Bein finished it up for the team, winning the Men’s 18-29 Black Belt grand championship.

In the rest of the Men’s Black Belt divisions it was USA Karate’s John Lysaght (30-39), David Kahn (40-49), and Paul Moe (50-59) whose strong forms most impressed the judges, allowing them to earn grand champion titles. Cassie Perez and Mylissa Staley of National Karate were the grand champions in the women’s divisions, with Perez winning the 18-29 division and Staley winning in the 30 and up division. Finally, with a great showing of talented black belt boys in the 13 and under grand champion division, it was Drew Watts of Professional Karate Studio who came out on top as the grand champion.

The black belt sparring divisions provided an exciting ending to this action-packed day. The fighters created a positive and energetic atmosphere, and there were a lot of really good matches. In the end though, it was Lee Maher of Professional Karate Studios, and BJ Carnahan and Ashley Fondren of National Karate who would fight their way to the championship round and take home the sparring grand champion trophies.

The atmosphere at this tournament was awesome! Throughout the day, competitors appeared excited and ready to compete. Although all the competitors were obviously out there doing everything they could to win, the overall atmosphere was one of great sportsmanship and camaraderie: cheering and pumping each other up and giving congratulations. What an awesome way to finish off the NCKA season!