Danny Etkin in action at the 2011 Amerikick Internationals
The Amerikick Internationals has a long history – and with its connection to the East Coast Amerikick schools, the tournament gets great local support. This year, the new venue was packed on Friday night with adults and children looking for a championship title and a chance in the night time finals. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the setting for the 2011 Amerikick Internationals, held March 25-26, 2011. The weather was a bit chilly but the philly cheesesteaks were exactly what was needed to warm a person up. With the event held in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, competitors piled into the tournament arena, realizing that after the competition concluded, there would be plenty of fun to be had once the work was done.
The Amerikick schools are home to a lot of former top competitors, now turned instructors. We spotted Alex Davydov, Kevin Schlueter and Chris Milares coaching their students and judging divisions. Speaking of judging, Amerikicks inspired even promoter and JPM coach Don Rodrigues to get into a ring and judge a few divisions!
Back to competition after a year off to do dance and cheerleading was Samantha Suddeth. Now 16 and with a drivers’ license (boy do we feel old), Suddeth showed she hasn’t lost her touch as she won her musical weapons division. Danny Etkin (pictured) was in the drivers’ seat in the 11 and under boy category, winning just about every division he decided to enter. Also impressive in the 9 and under division was Jake Presley, 14-15 competitor Reid Presley’s younger brother. 7-year-old Jake won in the creative weapons division with a routine that was a near carbon copy of his brother – right down to the power and clean technique!
The 16-17 year old boys competition was fierce as Vincent Scarduzio and new Team 100 Percent Performance member Tyler Powell brought challenges to Micah Karns, the boy who has been dominating this division so far in 2011. Scarduzio took first in musical weapons with Powell in second. A complete newcomer to the scene made his own waves in the 16-17 boys creative weapons division. Italian Steven Rebonato, representing Team Aiki, displayed difficult bo tricks and spins that earned him the divisional win and a chance in the grand championships.
Promoters Bob Leiker and Mark Russo ran the event efficiently with divisions being completed in a timely manner and leaving enough time to run the Creative, Musical, Extreme (CMX) weapons grand championships on Friday night. This scheduling concept worked well with Sammy Smith and Jackson Rudolph winning the girls and boys 13 and under grands and Stephanie Figueroa and Reid Presley winning for the 14-17 year olds. Marc Canonizado and Jarrett Leiker will go to the stage for men’s weapons competition. For the women, Caitlin Dechelle and Becca Ross will compete for the grand championships in CMX weapons.
Men’s team sparring drew four teams. Team Silent Thunder was ahead after two rounds against Team Next Level but Next Level pulled ahead in the last match to move into the finals. Team All Stars threw together a hybrid team as Ross Levine appeared at the event to compete. Levine is back after a long hiatus to heal from a torn hamstring. He competed in the Irish Open a few weeks ago (and managed to get a hairline fracture in his orbital bone that has since healed). At Amerikick, Levine told us that he is ready to compete again and stated that “I am 100% healthy and anyone who gets in my way will be dealt with accordingly.”
Without a full Full Circle team to fight alongside him, Levine fought with Robbie Lavoie and Jason Bourelly of Team All Stars. The All Stars/Full Circle gang (pictured at right) defeated the youngsters of Team Straight Up to face Team Next Level in an exciting match up. Levine faced Anthony Merricks of Next Level in round one. The fight ended in Levine’s favor with an 8-5 score but everyone is remembering the ax kick that Merricks delivered to Levine’s head partway through the match. In the second round, Lavoie demonstrated why he will eventually become a sport karate legend with his speed and ring smarts. He defeated Kodaq Wray of Next Level with another 8-5 score to put All Stars/Full Circle up by 6 points.
Jason Bourelly and Steven Lennon were the final fight for the evening. Bourelly came off