Ahead of ONE Championship's Atomweight World Grand Prix, Ritu "The Indian Tigress" Phogat has decided to step inside the Circle against American Bi "Killer Bee" Nguyen at ONE: Dangal on Saturday, May 15.
The Indian star is a member of one of the most famous families in her home country, and she is hoping to bring India to the forefront of martial arts. Thus far, her plan is going according to plan as she has kept a perfect professional record with dominant performance after dominant performance.
However, the Texan is hoping to oust her from the Atomweight World Grand Prix and show why she deserved a spot in the tournament instead.
Nguyen has stepped inside the Circle against some of the best athletes and had competitive matches. She believes she has taken the steps to compete with a better gameplan and take her game to the next level.
Phogat's spot in the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix may be on the line in the contest, which puts pressure on her to get her hand raised. If she is victorious, she is slated to take on China's Meng Bo in the tournament's quarter-finals.
What "The Indian Tigress" is trying to accomplish is what fans love about martial artists. While she could have stayed home and prepared for the atomweight tournament, Phogat instead accepted a challenge that could put that in jeopardy. She is willing to take risks in order to achieve greatness.
Ritu Phogat vs. Bi Nguyen | Road To ONE: DANGAL
Can she get it done, or will "Killer Bee" takeover her position within the division and reintroduce herself as a major player at atomweight? We will find out on Saturday.
ONE: Dangal airs on B/R Live at 6 a.m. EST/3 a.m. PST on Saturday, May 15.
One of the world's premier sport karate tournaments is just five weeks away, as the events at the Battle of Atlanta will begin Thursday, June 17th with the Professional Martial Arts Conference (PROMAC) Championships and Award Ceremonies. The Battle is PROMAC's marquee event and a number of competitors vying for national PROMAC titles will likely bolster the expected large turnout for the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) portion of the event taking place on Friday and Saturday.
Despite the Battle of Atlanta promoters still hosting their event in 2020, the tournament was not NASKA-sanctioned as a result of a hiatus related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the 2021 Battle of Atlanta will be the first in-person event for the most talent-packed sport karate league in the western hemisphere since the last Compete Nationals in February of 2020. The NASKA comeback, combined with impressive crowds at PROMAC events such as the Destin Open, Memphis Open, and North Georgia Open in the past year, could be the makings of a very successful event at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel this June. This is great news for sport karate fans and competitors alike.
What will the competition look like? The unprecedented time off for many competitors and sponsored teams makes it difficult to predict which faces to expect, but it makes for plenty of exciting storylines.
Forms and Weapons
In forms and weapons, many top competitors opted out of participating in online events during the heat of the pandemic for a myriad of reasons. It is uncertain which of these defending champions and veteran contenders will be in action, but we know that the competition and skills on display will be top-notch. Some speculation can be based on competitors who have been active on PROMAC, appeared on the Virtual Forms Tour, or have been public about their training like Sammy Smith, Danny Etkin, Rashad Eugene, Gabrielle Dunn, and more. However, there is a whole roster of young talent who turned eighteen in 2020 and early 2021 who are ready to test their skills against the adults.
In the men's division, junior weapons dual-threat Jake Presley of Team Paul Mitchell is likely to make his adult debut on NASKA in the Creative/Musical/Extreme (CMX) and traditional divisions. Connor Chasteen of Team Infinity has also risen to prominence in the weapons division during the pandemic, winning several PROMAC grand championships with his kama routine and taking home another victory in the main event of Virtual Forms Tour I.
Connor Chasteen accepts his grand championship guitar from promoter and PROMAC Vice President Joey Perry at The Memphis Open earlier this year. Photo courtesy of SportMartialArts.com
Junior forms juggernaut Mason Stowell of Top Ten Team USA is also old enough now to compete against the men with his high-flying extreme forms and powerful traditional routines, but his pursuit of the Tokyo Olympics as a Team USA kata athlete could interfere with his competition schedule at NASKA events in the immediate future. On the women's side, Team Infinity's Haley "Bulletproof" Glass will introduce herself to the adult division as an instant threat to win both forms and weapons overall grands.
With regard to point fighting, it is a bit easier to predict which mainstay competitors will be in action based on participation in major pay-per-view sport karate promotions such as Pro Point and the Virtual Fight Tour. Point fighting's iron man, who seems to fight in tournaments nearly every weekend, Kevin Walker of Team All Stars is expected to display his skills at The Battle. It is also a safe bet that Team Straight Up coach Joe Greenhalgh will be sending his tough squad featuring superstar Bailey Murphy, the talented and gritty Brandon Ballou, and other solid contenders like Romani Alicea. Several members of Team Dojo Elite – Power have also been active during the pandemic such as Devon Hopper, Zain Pedraza, and Pro Point 4 Winner Ryan "RPG" George.
Ryan George poses with his check for winning Pro Point 4, streamed by several major platforms including Black Belt Magazine.
Other fighters that have not been as active as those mentioned above could be back in action as well. Super-sibling duo Avery and Morgan Plowden of Team Impex have voiced motivation to be back on the mats and would be favorites to win the men's heavyweight and women's fighting grands respectively if they were to attend. The heavyweight bracket in particular could get very interesting, as undeniable force Kameren Dawson recovers from a back injury suffered at the North Georgia Open and other heavyweights have been staying sharp like Team Next Level's Anthony Merricks, Team Proper's Brayan Rodriguez, and many more.
What about the up-and-comers? There is a ton of talent that is expected to be moving up in the near future. Team Next Level's dynamic duo of Tyson Wray and Darren Payne have the potential to do some damage, Team Paul Mitchell's newest acquisition Alex Mancillas is hungry to make an impact for sport karate's most decorated team, and Top Ten Team USA's Jason Letona has potential to be a threat in the adult division when he joins his older brother Enrique. There are of course more fighters than that who will be new faces in the adult division, but that group has been active and there is a reasonable public consensus that they are coming to the adult divisions soon.
Tyson Wray gets his hand raised alongside teammate Darren Payne after they defeated Team All Stars' duo of Paolo Rafael Serafico and James Roberts IV at Virtual Fight Tour VII.
The 2021 Battle of Atlanta is almost guaranteed to be a historic event. The Friday Night Fights night show on June 18th will put several fighting divisions on display including the next Pro Point event with several incredible matchups. The Battle Zone night show on the 19th will continue the storied legacy of the Battle of Atlanta finals. Competitors should expect to begin NASKA competition early Friday morning with specialty divisions like Team Demonstration and Team Synchronized Forms, with their individual divisions to follow in sessions after that. Additionally on Friday morning, The Battle will be running special BATTLEMANIA sparring divisions that include continuous, double-elimination, mixed doubles, and tag-team.
Not able to attend this year? No worries, Black Belt Magazine will be in attendance and will bring you all the important news and updates from the event. Stay tuned to Black Belt on social media and our website for more information.
Before the event, catch up on the current Black Belt Magazine World Sport Karate Rankings by clicking HERE.
ONE Championship is a central figure in the rise and growth of mixed martial arts in India, and that will be on full display on Saturday, May 15, when they bring their latest event to the masses.
ONE: Dangal will feature four of the top Indian athletes in the sport today.
In the main event, "Singh" Arjan Bhullar will go for gold against ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera.
Bhullar is a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist and has made a successful transition into mixed martial arts. He made a dominant debut against Mauro Cerilli to earn his shot at greatness. A victory would be massive for the Indian talent who continues to give back to his community.
Speaking of Commonwealth Games gold medalists, Ritu "The Indian Tigress" Phogat will step back inside the Circle ahead of the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix when she meets Bi "Killer Bee" Nguyen in an atomweight contest.
Phogat has kept her professional record clean to date, and in each bout, she is a completely different version of herself. At Evolve MMA, Phogat tightens up her all-around skillset and adds the other pieces she will need to become a World Champion.
On the other side of the Circle, Nguyen hopes to derail Phogat's dreams and take over her spot in the division.
Gurdarshan "Saint Lion" Mangat and Roshan Mainam round out the Indian inclusion of the card with their catchweight contest.
Mangat has proven himself to be a talented athlete with ten career finishes, half by knockout and half by submission. However, Mainam is one of the fastest-rising stars in the sport today. Mainam is currently riding a three-bout win streak where he finished each man via submission.
Indian MMA Has Arrived | Arjan Bhullar, Ritu Phogat & MORE
When the bell rings on Saturday, May 15, an entire nation will be watching their biggest stars compete on the global stage. These Indian athletes have continued to push the sport further in their home country and now get a chance to shine at ONE: Dangal.
ONE: Dangal airs on Saturday, May 15, at 6 a.m. EST/3 a.m. PST on B/R Live.
- In Search of Grappling's Roots in India, Part 1 - Black Belt Magazine ›
- In Search of Grappling's Roots in India, Part 2 - Black Belt Magazine ›
Per my Blog last week on the Las Vegas Kosen Judo Tournament, it should be emphasized that Celita Schutz the Current President of the USJA has made a solid commitment to the promotion and expansion of their Kosen Judo Rules as developed by John Paccione the Past President of the USJA. Continuing along this theme, I asked my friend and colleague Steve Scott to elaborate on his concept of Freestyle Judo.
Gary Goltz graciously asked me to provide a brief explanation of the Freestyle Judo contest rules for his popular blog in Black Belt and I thank him for this opportunity to explain what Freestyle Judo is about. Click Here to visit the Freestyle Judo website.
First, it must be stressed that Freestyle Judo is not a new "style" of judo. There is only one judo and that is the Kodokan Judo founded by Professor Jigoro Kano in 1882. Judo, as a sporting event, is only one aspect of the totality of Kodokan Judo. But judo as a sport is practiced internationally by millions of people and is one of the most technically diverse athletic events ever devised.
Freestyle Judo is simply a set of contest rules adding another dimension to competitive judo. It doesn't replace the existing rules of sport judo as set forth by the IJF, but simply adds another avenue of opportunity for judo athletes. In exactly the same way folk style, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling have specific rule differences and aims, Freestyle and IJF rules in the sport of judo perform the same function.
Wrestling is wrestling, no matter what the rules are and the success of American wrestlers in world and Olympic competition bears out the fact that college wrestlers quickly adapt to the international (freestyle and Greco) rules of wrestling. So, why not in judo as well? Good judo is good judo, and offering judo athletes more opportunities to develop their abilities in competition; the better for them and the better for judo. Competition breeds a better product and Freestyle Judo offers another opportunity for athletes to compete and excel. In this way, I believe Freestyle Judo can provide an excellent base for the development of judo athletes who aspire to compete at the elite and international level.
In 1998, John Saylor and I used the first version of the contest rules in what we called Shingitai Rules (later to be known as "Freestyle Judo") during our national Shingitai Jujitsu organization grappling tournament. It was a small tournament with about 75 adult athletes, but contestants entered in the tournament came from a variety of grappling backgrounds, from a NCAA wrestling champion to several national judo champions and numerous elite level sambo wrestlers. All agreed that the rules we used were an ideal blend of grappling styles. Later, in 2007, when National AAU Judo Chair Norm Miller and I were discussing ways to develop judo, from both a standpoint of quality and quantity, I proposed that we bring back the Shingitai rules that were so popular and make minor modifications to them for judo.
Getting to work, I consulted with John Saylor, my wife Becky Scott, Ken Brink, AnnMaria DeMars and Norm Miller for their input. From this start, the Freestyle Judo contest rules were developed. In 2008, we held a local judo tournament featuring both the (at that time) current IJF contest rules and a separate event using what eventually became known as the Freestyle Judo Contest Rules. Freestyle Judo was an instant success with everyone involved; athletes, coaches, officials and spectators. In 2009, Ken and Michelle Brink hosted the first National AAU Freestyle Judo Championship tournament in Kearney, Missouri (near Kansas City), attracting 200 contestants. There have been annual tournaments since that time up to the Covid lockdown. In 2021, plans are set for two major tournaments using the Freestyle Judo contest rules.
The name Freestyle Judo was chosen to provide this set of contest rules with an identifiable brand similar to Freestyle Wrestling. The name "Freestyle Judo" doesn't imply that there are no rules and anything goes.
Steve Scott with group of Freestyle Judo Referees.
Athletes from other grappling disciplines such as sambo, BJJ, wrestling and submission grappling find that they can quickly accommodate to the Freestyle Judo contest rules. As a result, athletes from a variety of grappling sports are attracted to competing in judo. The way we look at it, a good technique is a good technique, no matter what it is called or where the athlete learned it.
Freestyle Judo's rules encourage athletes to use all the skills of judo placing equal emphasis on tachi waza and newaza. The Ippon is retained, but numerical points are awarded for lesser scores instead of only waza-ari. Scores for throwing techniques vary from Ippon, 4 points (similar to a waza-ari), 2 points (similar to a yuko from the older IJF rules) and 1 point (similar to a koka from the older IJF rules). Points are awarded for active and aggressive ground fighting with points awarded for turnovers, getting past the opponent's legs in newaza (passing the guard), and rolling or sweeping an opponent from bottom newaza (guard sweep).
A rule that makes Freestyle Judo very much judo is that an athlete must actively attempt to throw or throw the opponent to the mat to enter into groundwork. In other words, pulling or jumping guard is not permitted. Another feature in the Freestyle Judo contest rules is that throws grabbing the legs are permitted (Kata Guruma, Morote Gari, Sukui Nage, Te Guruma and others).A contestant attacking with a leg grab throw must first have a grip with both hands on the opponent's judogi before attacking. This simple rule is enforced by our referees and is one of the most popular rules we have in Freestyle Judo. This way, by initially gripping the opponent's jacket with both hands, there is no shooting as done in wrestling. In other words, freestyle judo offers a lot of ways for any athlete to score points on an opponent and have them objectively evaluated.
Another feature of freestyle judo is the way the officials conduct the match. The center referee is assisted by the two mat judges who are allowed to move about the edge of the mat to get a better view of the action. Allowing the mat judges to do this enables all three officials to get the best view possible of all the action during the match.
Freestyle Judo referees have two primary functions: 1-Insure a safe match for the athletes. 2-Call points in an objective and fair manner. Officiating a Freestyle Judo match is similar to officiating a wrestling match in that the referee must always be alert, looking out for the athlete's safety and always looking for points that are scored.
Athletes who compete in tournaments using the Freestyle Judo contest rules will find the experience beneficial to every other grappling sport they do and this includes judo athletes who want to compete in judo in something other than the IJF contest rules.
For more information on Freestyle Judo:
Please go to our two Facebook groups called International Freestyle Judo Alliance and Judo Black Belt Association. You can also go to our web site at www.FreestyleJudo.org to see the Freestyle Judo contest rules. Anyone wishing to become part of our Freestyle Judo program, can simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Black Belt Blog – The Three Building Blocks of Judo by Gary Goltz, April 13, 2021
- Steve Scott: A Life on the Mat by Noel Plaugher, March 23, 2021
- Judo Isn't Gentle by Steve Scott, February 18, 2019
- How Biomechanical Principles Apply to Judo by Steve Scott, March 11, 2019
Comments from Gary Goltz
Thank you Steve for clarifying the tenants of your organization. Following the success of the Kosen Judo event held on May 1st in Las Vegas, it is apparent the interest in these types of contests is extremely high. I will continue to cover the development of this emerging phenomenon.
John Paccione and I are committed to bringing more Kosen Judo events to the forefront. John will be holding the USJA/JF Summer Nationals on September 4th in Cape Coral, Florida. At that time there will be Kosen Judo Divisions. John is working on a website for this event and he'll be announcing the URL shortly.In the meantime as a I noted my lifelong friend Paul Bova of Trafford Judo is hosting a tournament next month on June 12th in my hometown of Pittsburgh. For more information go to Mike Bova Memorial Judo & Kosen Grappling Open.
Click Here for more information about the event. Looking forward to seeing many of my friends there!
- gary-goltz - Black Belt Magazine ›
- Judo Blog: The State of Collegiate Judo in the U.S. - Black Belt ... ›