Members of the International Isshinryu Karate Association Fighting Teams traveled to Newark New Jersey to compete in Don Nagles AOKA World Karate Championship. This year both teams were the seeded defending champions after capturing the World Team Titles at last years event.
Everyone spent Friday in the Big Apple taking in the sights and enjoying themselves in the city. A team breakfast was held the morning of the tournament and then everyone was off to Bayonne a short distance away from the Hotel.
This years attendance at the tournament was much higher than previous years and the crowd was estimated between 300 to 400.
As always Sensei Ralph Pesaro made everyone feel welcome. Ralph is one of the most gracious tournament host's in lhe World of Isshinryu, or any other style for that matter.
All in attendance lined up for the bow in and Pledge of Allegiance and then introductions were made of all the attending Masters. A tribute was made in the memory of Grand Master Don Nagle. A group Kiai was delivered in his honor that I am sure could be heard around the neighborhood.
Ju Dan Ed McGrath spoke to the crowd and then treated everyone to a short demonstration of street techniques which all seemed to enjoy thourghly.
Ku Dan Albert Mady form Windsor Canada performed a breaking demonstration for the group and then the tournament was underway.
The children's divisions kicked off the day with Kata and then the Kumite divisions. Black Belt Weapons Kata was next. At this tournament all competitors are in one division, Men, Women and Masters all compete together. The were so many competitors numbering around 40 that everyone was split into two rings to save time. The top 2 were chosen from each ring and then they had to compete again against each other.
Congratulations to Julie Gabbard for an outstanding Kata performance and winning 3rd place for the day. I might add that she was the only women to advance to the finals.
The IIKA Teams were warming up and ready to go for the Team competition which took place in the two center most rings. The Ladies were up first and the teams lined up to face each other and bow in.
This years Ladies challengers were from Master Ernie Temples organization and they came ready for a fight.
Everyone completed their fight and was looking great and at the end of 5 rounds the score was tied 11 to 11. One more round for total points was determined to be the tie breaker. Sandra Strong led the fight all the way ending with a score of 5 to 1.
After a short celebration the Ladies were presented with their SECOND World Championship Belts.
Mens Team Fighting
Next up was the men's divisions and after the eliminations Ernie Temples group was the challengers against our guys.
Donald "One Punch" Cripps
The action for each round was intense with all fighters dominating their matches. The IIKA Men finished with a final score of 19 to 7.
Congratulations to the IIKA Men's and Women's Fighting teams for successfully defending their World Team Titles.
In the individual competition Chip Roney placed 2nd in Men's over 35 Black Belt. Josh Jessie placed 2nd in Men's Heavy Weight. Brandon Baird placed 2nd in the Men's Light Weight Division, Sandra Strong placed 1st in Ladies over 35 Black Belt. Donna Cripps Ambercrombie Placed 1st in Women's Middle Weight Black Belt. Bobbie Humphrey Placed 2nd in Women's Middle Weight Black Belt. Angel Short Placed 3rd in Women's Middle Weight Black Belt. Great Job Everyone!!
To determine who would fight for the ladies Grand an elimination fight between Sandra Strong and Donna Ambercrombie commenced with Sandra winning 3 to 2. Theresa Barnette was the seeded defending Ladies Grand Champion from last year and the fight of the year was about to take place. Two rounds for total points is standard for the Grand's and Sandra and Theresa put on one of the best shows of technique I have seen in some time. The score went back and forth between the two until at the end of the second round the score was tied 11 to 11. Again one more round was fought and everyone was on the end of their seats watching the action. At the end Theresa edged Sandra to retain her Championship.
What a show between these two. I was proud of them both and both fought their hearts out showing absolutely great skill.
Congratulations go out to both for showing such class and skill and to Theresa for a GREAT JOB.
After the tournament Sensei Ralph Pesaro treated the group to pizza at the Local Big Apple Pizza House where everyone enjoyed the pizza and talking about the days events.
We want to take time to extend a special thanks to Sensei Pesaro and all of his group from Bayonne and also to Master Ernie Temple for his fighting teams participation and competitive spirit. You guys are a CLASS ACT.
Thanks to Master Tommy True and all of the IIKA Board for their support of the group and our efforts to represent the IIKA.
Way to go team lets get ready for next year and a THREE PEAT. God Willing.