Written By: Andrew Cabilan
Photo Credit: Mike Palitti, Linda Young, Jason Grenier
MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, CANADA (Nov 17-18, 2012) – As the year approaches the end, many Sport Karate competitors wind down their tournament schedule and look forward to the challenges which lie ahead in the New Year. November serves as a month where most competitors’ calendars are relatively barren but those who desire to seek new challenges without the expense of distant travelling need not look further than their own backyard. Mike Palitti’s Toronto Tournament of Martial Arts Champions (TTMAC) serves as Canada’s battle ground where the best competitors of the North can test their skills one final time before hanging up the gis and gloves until the next season. Since 2009, the TTMAC has found a permanent home inside the spacious Hershey Centre and has consistently drawn a large crowd of spectators and a solid stable of competitors. With the tournament holding a NMAC Elite AAA rating as well as a NASKA and WKC AAA sanctioning, Canada’s ‘big names’ always find time to make it out to this event to rumble with the local talent.
As usual, the TTMAC was flooded by competitors representing Bernardo Karate Academy, Douvris Martial Arts and East-West Martial Arts but it was the Academy of Martial Arts (AMA) from Brampton which claimed the bragging rights for this year’s Most Supportive Club. Quebec was also well represented by Pierre Saulner’s Karate Sunfuki, Stephane Dube’s KJS, Clermont Poulin’s Studio Unis, Eric Tremblay’s Sport Action and Team Pro-Am from Montreal. Besides the NMAC regulars which are seen at virtually every NMAC event, some pleasant surprises also came out to test their skills in new waters. NBL regular and newcomer to NMAC competition, Hamilton’s Ryan Shields went “two for two” as he captured big wins in Men’s Weapons and Traditional Kata as he topped Quebec mainstay Marc-Andre Laplante and WKC World Champion Cody Diesbourg. No stranger to Ontario competitions, Orangeville’s Michael Toms also made his TTMAC debut by easily claiming the Men’s Extreme forms and 35+ Weapons divisions.
This year’s TTMAC would serve as an historic moment in Canadian Sport Karate as it honoured Canada’s pioneers in the Martial Arts. Some of those distinguished guests include Monty Guest (one of Canada’s top promoters in the 70’s), Steve Reynolds (Ju-jitsu legend), Elvis Stojko (Olympic silver-medalist and kung-fu stylist), Jong Soo Park (Canadian Taekwondo pioneer) and Glen Kwan (instructor to many Martial artists in Canada). Making a rare appearance, The “Father of Canadian Karate” O’Sensei Masami Tsuruoka was also in attendance to personally accept his TTMAC Hall of Fame award. For those not familiar with O’Sensei, without this man, Karate would not be as big as it is today – every Karate student in Canada has their roots stemming from O’Sensei Tsuruoka. Many karateka and competitors took advantage of the rare opportunity to get a photo with O’Sensei, including Mike Palitti himself – who is pictured here with O’Sensei Tsuruoka – each holding their respective plaques with their tournament flyer embedded in it. O’Sensei Tsuruoka was the first promoter of a major Canadian Karate event 50 years ago on the same date as this year’s TTMAC – so it was very fitting that O’Sensei was honoured at this event on this date.
In addition to TTMAC regular Sport Martial divisions, it also serves as the host to the Irish Stick Fighting World Championships. Making the trek from Germany, Hendrik Rober handily captured the 40+ title while Christian Mella won the 18-39 title. The TTMAC also held the first ever Elite Kata Challenge where competitors compete in head-to-head Forms competition until there is only one winner. This year’s champion comes to no surprise to anyone as the talented Tressa Young defeated a fierce competitive field to garner the $200 prize.
Palitti, being the innovative promoter that he is, also introduced a new format for the Forms Grand Championships. As usual, all 1st Place competitors qualified to vie for their respective Grand titles but the 2nd Place competitors were also given an opportunity to get in the mix after going through their
own run off. When the smoke disappeared and the dust settled, Thunder Bay’s Raven Wheesk would walk away with the Junior Black Belt Forms Grands and Andrew Cabilan winning the Adult counterpart. Junior and Adult Under Black Belts also got their share of earning money for their efforts as each of the Grand winners (4 in total) received $200 expense money for their arduous effort.
The Sparring divisions also served as a nice mélange of competitors, most of them from neighbouring cities in Ontario. However, it was the Quebec duo of Jason Grenier and Verona Soliman from Team Pro-Am that would claim top honours by winning the Men’s Grands and Women’s Grands respectively. Not only did the two walk away with the expense money, but they also took home the coveted NMAC/WKC TTMAC Grand Championship belts!
Overall, the TTMAC continues to draw top talent and continues to be the stomping grounds for World Champions and local talent who want to become World Champions. With fabulous cash expense awards and attractive Olympic-style medals, competitors will continue to gravitate towards this event. Be sure to mark this one on your calendars!