The Hungarian Team Kiraly won the mixed team fight challenge (with Chelsey Nash of Canada in the mix)

For the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA), the Quebec Open provides the true international aspect to the world tour. Held in Quebec City, Canada the weekend of April 27-28, 2011, the tournament was a pleasurable mix of familiar and foreign for those who traveled from the United States or other countries to attend the event. And for the Canadians who were there in droves, it was a chance to experience martial arts from a new perspective. The host, Clermont Poulin, strives so hard to put on the best event possible that he has a knot in his stomach starting a few days ahead of the event and lasting until the lights come up to signal the end of the finals. His attentiveness and worry pays off for those in attendance and who get the chance to experience his night time finals that boast an audience of nearly 6000 people.

Americans were able to shine at the Quebec Open this year during the day time eliminations and the night show. But Team Kiraly of Hungary decided to make the trip and the group had some grand moments as well. The American competitor who had a consistent showing at the event was Vincent Scarduzio. He was able to get on stage for both men’s forms and weapons. In creative weapons, he had a very memorable performance when he nearly impaled the center judge with his vodoo child move with his bo. The judge was visibly terrified but also impressed as Scarduzio was given the highest scores for the division.

Zsolt Moradi of Hungary also had a great weekend although he didn’t do as well as hoped in his individual point sparring division. Moradi was stopped short of the win by Samuel Gagnon of Canada. In team fights, Hungary fell to Team All Stars led by Raymond Daniels and the fight between Daniels and Moradi was impressive. It was Moradi’s kicks and calmness in the ring that were impressive. Claire Cocozza of Canada also had a wonderful weekend. After taking some time off from competition following giving birth to three children, Cocozza is back in 2012 and she proved it by winning the overall women’s sparring grand championship with a last minute kick to score on Chelsey Nash.

Dallas Liu left nothing to chance in the night show as he won over his challengers for the 13 & under weapons grands. Mackensi Emory dropped a kama during a difficult pass to disqualify herself in the 14-17 weapons overall championships. She was followed by Jackson Rudolph with an unusual drop of the bo. Leaving only Tyler Titus remaining for the win with his traditional performance. Titus looked strong and we predict he will likely be seen again on stage this year.

Men’s forms was an eclectic mix of soft style, traditional and extreme. Considering how much the Canadians love to party, the crowd was highly appreciative of Austin Jorgensen’s drunken soft style performance. Jarrett Leiker and Drew Derrick Bisbee provided the traditional flavor. The extreme divisions during the day were dominated by Micah Karns and Vincent Scarduzio and they faced off on the stage during the finals. Karns received three 10s in a row to take the title for the evening and his second grand championship of the year. Vincent Scarduzio was back for the men’s weapons grand championships. Karns eliminated himself during the day time by dropping his weapon. When the sound manager for the event was unable to play Scarduzio’s music for his weapons routine, Scarduzio decided to perform without music. He had the crowd with him and was looking poised to win when a small bobble took him out of the running. Kyle Montagna, on the other hand, performed a strong and nearly flawless traditional bo routine that put him on the winner’s podium for the event.

Scarduzio didn’t go home empty handed, however, as he and Jessica Goldman won the synchronized team competition with their routine set to the tune “Rockin’ Robin”.

 Cheyenne Titus of Team Amerikick has suddenly exploded onto the scene in women’s forms and weapons, an area normally dominated by Becca Ross and Caitlin Dechelle. Titus defeated Ross in women’s Japanese forms during the day time eliminations and faced Ross on stage. This time Ross went all extreme and that performance left nothing to chance as Ross took the women’s forms grand championship title.

Danny Etkin decided he wanted on stage in the 13 and under forms divisions and he defeated Dallas Liu in the run offs to do it. Liu still faced Etkin on stage as the boys traditional representative. Liu was spurred on by the encouraging remarks from his teammate Raymond Daniels in the front row. Kaelyn Whaley was the winner of all the girls forms run offs (both extreme and traditional) and she chose a traditional form on stage for the evening. Etkin decided to take it all the way by winning the overall title to the delight of the crowd.

We don’t get to see a lot of Ross Kohnstam on stage which is a shame because he is pretty entertaining. He got his chance in front of a huge and appreciative crowd this evening. His poor challenger Mackensi Emory was having the worst night ever as her music started to skip and wouldn’t correct itself. She ended up stopping in the middle of her performance and bowing out. Amanda Chen looked pretty serious on stage as she faced the judges for her traditional routine. Chen was followed by another traditional performance – this one by Brendan Rasinski. Rasinski’s strong traditional was the favorite of the judges and Rasinski walked out with the title.

The Quebec Open is known for a loud and appreciative crowd at the night show and tonight was no exception. The crowd was especially appreciative of the handicapable competition where little yellow belt Annabelle Proulx got up from her chair and performed her martial arts. She received almost all perfect 10s from the judges, the award and a standing ovation from nearly 6000 spectators.

With growing support in Canada for the NASKA circuit, a special NASKA competition for weapons was offered during the finals. In the junior competition, Charles Olivier Dube and Alexandre Goyette tied for the junior title while Eric Tremblay was the winner for the adults with his sword routine. Goyette was on stage again in the team demo competition as his team, coached by Tremblay, performed a demo to showcase their winning performance from the Friday eliminations. Sport Action team of Canada is actually one that deserves mention as the members are becoming recognized and growing stronger each season.

The special team fighting challenge for the night finals included four mixed teams from Team Straight Up, Team Kiraly of Hungary, Team All Stars and Team Full Circle Canada. The set up was two men and one woman with the team with best score after three rounds advancing to the final round. Adding a woman into the mix made the teams scramble to pick up the best fighters to represent the team. Team Straight Up used its own Shannel Trappier while Kiraly added on Chelsey Nash. Round one was the women. If there is one thing that losing a grand championship will do, it make Nash fight about a million times harder if she gets another chance. Nash dominated Trappier with a 7 point spread win and final score of 8-1. Straight Up also brought the lone Venezuelan onto its team – Victor Suarez. Suarez held his own against Laszlo Gombos of Hungary but Zsolt Moradi of Hungary flexed his long legs and ax kicks on Julio Lugo to advance Hungary into the final round.

The next match-up pitted Team All Stars’ Robbie Lavoie, Raymond Daniels and Chenoa Cassidy Matthews against Full Circle Canada’s Samuel Gagnon, Jason Grenier and Claire Cocozza. Cocozza had just won the women’s sparring grand championship and liked the thrill of winning. She defeated Matthews 6-2 to put Full Circle in a good position to open the round. Gagnon helped to open the lead further with a narrow 5-4 win over Lavoie. As the anchor, Daniels had a 5 point deficit to make up and was facing Jason “the Sleeper” Grenier. Grenier is a smart fighter and played it perfectly, using the ring and time to hold onto his lead and score whenever Daniels started to pull ahead. The match ended in a 6-6 tie and Team Full Circle advanced into the final round.

 Nash got a chance for a rematch against Cocozza in the final competition of the evening. The two went scoreless for their entire first round fight as they stared each other down and dared the other to make the first move. None of their exchanges ended in any point. Samuel Gagnon was next against Kiraly’s Laszlo Gombos. Gagnon was on the board first with a blitz and Gombos soon responded with his own point and then added 3 more to give his team a 4-1 lead going into the final round between Jason Grenier and Zsolt Moradi. Moradi quickly picked Grenier apart and pushed side kicks that were too much for Grenier to handle. The final score of the match was 6-1 and Hungary took home the glory for the evening.

The Irish Open sparked many discussions comparing the European and North American fighters. With Hungarians, Germans, Venezuelans, Canadians, and Americans thrown in the ring together at Quebec Open it assured that the debate will continue with the answer to who is best being determined in the ring.