Jhoon Rhee presents promoter Dennis Brown with an honorary black belt at the finals of the US Capitol Classics.
Promoter Dennis Brown and his family are the epitome of classy and beautiful and this is reflected in their US Capitol Classics and China Open tournament. A NASKA 6A World event, competitors were treated to a first-class hotel and competition arena along with being surrounded by not only the NASKA competition but also the beauty of soft style competitors in the parallel China Open tournament. The event was held August 3-4, 2012 in National Harbor, Maryland and drew competitors from across the United States and Mexico.
In addition to a great competition arena provided the promoter, the competitors themselves put on great shows. Micah Karns closed out all of his forms divisions, defeating his biggest challenge – Matt Emig. Emig had reported a few problems with his ankle and he bowed out early during his extreme form. Emig did take the win in extreme weapons while Karns was not quite as on the ball in the weapons competition. Vincent Scarduzio has shown consistency with his forms on Friday nights and he was on the money this time as well. Scarduzio wowed the spectators for whom he signed autographs after winning creative forms and musical weapons. The junior competitors pushed the envelope when Reid Presley attempted a double bo form. Presley couldn’t reach the bar he set and dropped his weapon after an excellent start. Meanwhile, over in the girls’ rings, Tressa Young of Canada made no mistakes with her double bo routine.
Jadi Tention joined Ross Levine and Troy Binns on Team Impex to dominate the team fighting finals. In fact, Team Impex dominated all the sparring competition throughout Friday and Saturday. Impex members Avery Plowden and Troy Binns faced off for the middle weight grand championships, with Plowden coming out the winner. Jadi Tention ended up facing Eugene Floyd in a historic match-up reminiscent of the past in the 30 and over run offs. In the end it was Tention advancing and winning the 30 and over run offs to head to the finals for men’s sparring. Ross Levine eliminated all heavyweight competition to also move to the finals. Next Level’s Paris Wilson, the lone non-Impex fighter who made it to the final four for men. For the women, Morgan Plowden of Impex and Nicole Pelland of Team Paul Mitchell would go to the finals.
The Kahan brothers showed up to stiffen the competition in teams and individual form competition. Unfortunately, Josh dropped a kama in team sync and Jake dropped a kama in creative weapons. Josh Kahan went on to win Men’s Korean forms however, so there was at least one stage performance guaranteed. With the Kahan brothers out of the mix in synchronized teams, it was Team Infinity’s Sami Suddeth and Mike Welch facing Vincent Scarduzio and Jessica Goldman in synchronized teams. Scarduzio and Goldman were totally together and took the win on stage. Team Infinity was not out of the picture, however, as they won demo teams and performed in the finals.
As the competition wound down on Saturday, a number of individuals discreetly left the arena and headed to a different conference room in the hotel for a surprise. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Jhoon Rhee Institute and 81-year-old Jhoon Rhee, considered the father of American Tae Kwon Do, was whisked into the hotel to find himself surrounded by a room full of old friends, family and students who had arrived to celebrate his contributions to the martial arts. Spectators were entertained and enlightened with dinner and memories from Jeff Smith, Charlie Lee, Stephen Oliver, Larry Carnahan and many, many more.
The celebration of Jhoon Rhee continued into the night show with Grandmaster Rhee coming onto the stage and being surrounded by his students and others who had been influenced by his instruction. Rhee passed on his philosophy in a powerful speech that captivated the audience. To cap off his appearance, he awarded Promoter Dennis Brown an honorary Jhoon Rhee black belt.
In the finals competition, Matt Emig was only on stage once during the evening but he definitely delivered. Emig won the men’s weapons competition with many 9’s and a few tens. Audrie Donihoo wowed the crowd as she did at US Open in July with her sword performance. Her first trick after her introduction held the crowd’s attention and she continued with clean and strong cuts and hit all of her tricks. With a drop from Becca Ross, Donihoo took the win in women’s weapons.
The kids were on point in the finals with Danny Etkin starting out with a title in 13 and under weapons with a pretty sweet chucks performance. In the 14-17 weapons competition, a rare bo drop by Jackson Rudolph took him out of the running. It was very close between Sammy Smith and Shahin Jahan-vash with Smith coming out the winner with her chucks routine. Dallas Liu took a forms title back home to California in the 13 and under competition with Cole Eckert pushing himself to the limit and winning the 14-17 forms competition.
The China Open was not forgotten in the finals with the adult forms and weapons grands on stage for the crowd. Endau Wong from China was the overall winner in both forms and weapons with some fantastic soft style performances. It was also great to see Max Ehrlich, a former NASKA youth competitor, now competing as an adult in the China Open competition and going to the stage.
There was traditional point sparring and an interesting type of fighting called point MMA in the finals. The point MMA match started a little slow but the second round of the fight was a lot of fun with some crazy techniques. The rules required light contact and allowed take-downs and submission holds but the fighters could only be on the ground for five seconds before the center called for a break. It was a nice combination of various styles without the threat of severe head injury and permanent damage that full-contact MMA entails. The winner of the demo point MMA match was Amari Miller.
In women’s point sparring, Morgan Plowden did her name proud with a win over Nikki Pelland for the grand championship title. Plowden was being observed by some of the most prolific fighters in sport karate history as Terry Creamer, Anthony Price, her father Richard Plowden, Steve “Nasty” Anderson, Tony Young and Christine Bannon-Rodrigues were all in house. For the men, Jadi Tention faced his protege’ Ross Levine. There was no bow out and they fought hard. Tention started with all the points but Levine soon caught up. As the buzzer sounded, Tention scored a point to take the lead by one and win the grand championship title.
Even though Becca Ross dropped her bo in weapons, she did not go home empty handed. She was impressive during the day time in the forms