Rashad Eugene

The 2021 AmeriKick Internationals, promoted by Bob Leiker and Mark Russo, was the third NASKA world tour event since the league returned from its COVID-19 hiatus. The event celebrated its 40th anniversary last weekend as the action went down in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Rashad "The Black Mamba" Eugene was the talk of the tournament, coming home with three overall grand championship titles in the men's forms and weapons divisions. Eugene has become a fan-favorite in recent years for his fun-loving demeanor around the ring and exceedingly creative performances in the weapons divisions, using everything from triple bo staff to a broomstick. His first title of the weekend came in the traditional weapons category. He carried that momentum into the Saturday night finals where he defeated Cody Leck and Donis Coronel to claim the creative/musical/extreme (CMX) forms title, and followed that up with a double bo performance to secure the trifecta with a win over Team Paul Mitchell's Alex Mancillas and Kung Fu bull whip specialist Aaron Keys. Eugene's weekend is of historical significance, as this marks the first time in recent memory that a competitor has won their first career NASKA overall grand championship while claiming three such titles at one event.

Enrique Letona

Photo Courtesy of Point Fighter Live

In an almost equally impressive performance, Enrique "El Rey" Letona of Top Ten Team USA dominated men's point fighting. He led his squad to their second consecutive team fighting title, solidifying the champion position in the Black Belt Magazine World Rankings that they claimed at the U.S. Open. Then Letona rolled through his individual divisions, winning both the open weight and lightweight grand championships. Darren "Dee Stacks" Payne of Team Next Level took home the heavyweight title and would face Letona in a special bonus round conducted by the Virtual Fight Tour. Jessie Wray brought back the old NASKA format in which the grand champions of each weight class fought for an overall title, but this time it was done with VFT rules and judges. After three rounds, Letona would continue his hot streak and take home the win.

As for the rest of the adult division, chapter two of the budding friendly rivalry between Team Paul Mitchell members Sammy Smith and Haley Glass was written last weekend. After a strong showing at U.S. Open, Glass was recruited to join sport karate's longest-sponsored team, but it was the savvy veteran Smith who was victorious and took home the women's weapons championship. In women's forms, a traditionalist took home the hardware as KTOC/AFS Adidas athlete Sasha Rodriguez impressed the judges with her kata. To round out the lady warriors, Jimena Janeiro (below) of Team Revolution claimed both the open weight and overall grand championships in sparring.

Jimena Janeiro

On the men's side, the only forms or weapons title not won by Rashad Eugene was the traditional forms championship. Mason Stowell powered his way to yet another victory by defeating Kenpo stylist Larry Gonzalez of Team DKS. In just three tournaments as an adult, Stowell has won a Battle of Atlanta Ultimate Championship, an ISKA U.S. Open title, and now the grand championship at AmeriKick.

Stowell continued his winning ways in the synchronized forms division alongside Top Ten Team USA teammate Rodrigo Madrid. Madrid was also successful in his individual competition, winning the 14-17 boys' forms grand championship. In the 14-17 girls' division, a traditionalist once again reigned supreme as Maddy Kennaway of Team KTOC continued her dominance of that division with her beautiful kata. Madison Magnotta of Team Straight Up and Matthew Shamet of Team AmeriKick kept it traditional on the weapons side of the 14-17 age group as their respective bo routines won the overall grand championships. Extreme routines like the bo form of Benjamin "The Truth" Jones of Team Competitive Edge and the high-flying open form of Team AmeriKick's Shane Billow earned the respect of the crowd despite the judges going the other way.

Rodrigo Madrid Mason Stowell

Rodrigo Madrid (left) and Mason Stowell (right)

To wrap up the events of Saturday night with the youth divisions, it is evident that the future of sport karate is in good hands with so many talented young stars. The ultimate showman Michael Molina of Team Macho took the stage against Dax Howland of Team Competitive Edge and his insanely difficult bo routine. Molina powered his way to a win with a traditional bo form, his second overall grand championship in three events after winning with his extreme bo routine at the Battle of Atlanta. In 13 and under boys' forms, Judah Sagawa of Team Freestyle continued to make a name for himself by taking home the title. As for the girls, Sienna Chu was able to pull off an upset of Isabella Nicoli with her traditional form, but Nicoli came back strong in the weapons division to claim a win of her own with her extreme nunchaku routine.

Michael Molina

Michael Molina poses with his trophy and points to his respected competitor, Dax Howland

These competitors and more have now shifted their sights to Minneapolis, where they will gather on October 8th and 9th for the prestigious Diamond Nationals. The legendary diamond ring will be on the line and the results will weigh heavily in the next update of the Black Belt Magazine World Sport Karate Rankings. Stay tuned to BlackBeltMag.com for news and updates from the world of sport karate.

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Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Competitive Edge Karate
Photo Courtesy: Jackson Rudolph

Team Competitive Edge, coached by Jackson Rudolph, Reid Presley, and Cole Presley, has become one of the premier teams in the sport in recent years. The team consistently takes home individual overall grand championships and they are the reigning U.S. Open ISKA Team Demonstration World Champions. Moving into the 2022 tournament season, they have made a huge move to deepen their roster and add seven junior competitors to the team. The new additions range from proven champions bringing their talents to the squad, some skilled workhorses who have previously joined the team for the Team Demo division, and some promising young stars who will be making their debut in the black belt division this year. Keep reading to learn more about each of the new additions (ordered alphabetically).

Gavin Bodiford

Gavin Bodiford

Photo Courtesy: Kellie Austin Bodiford via Facebook

Bodiford is twelve years old and hails from Lebanon, Tennessee, a product of Premier Martial Arts Lebanon (formerly known as Success Martial Arts Center), where the Competitive Edge coaches have all earned black belts. He has five years of martial arts experience and was the 2020-2021 ProMAC Southern Region Champion in four divisions. He also finished the 2021 NASKA season in the top ten for creative, musical, and extreme forms and weapons. Bodiford is one of the competitors who has stepped up for Competitive Edge in the past, joining the demonstration team to help them secure the 2021 U.S. Open ISKA World Championship.

Riley Claire Carlisle

RC Carlisle

Photo Courtesy: Mallory Parker Carlisle

Carlisle (pictured with coach Sammy Smith) is a 10-year-old rising star from Starkville, Mississippi who has been training for four years. In the underbelt division, she has won grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and numerous regional events. She holds multiple divisional and grand championship titles from the ProMAC circuit, and has amassed over ninety divisional wins in recent years. She is moving into the black belt division in 2022 and looks to continue her winning ways.

Kodi Molina

Kodi Molina

Photo Courtesy: Priscilla Molina via Facebook

Molina is a 13-year-old world champion from San Antonio, Texas with 10 years of martial arts training under her belt. She has won many grand championship titles on the NASKA circuit, and has claimed world championships from NASKA, ISKA, ATA, and WKC. At the 2021 U.S. Open, she became the reigning ISKA world champion in 13 and under girls creative/musical/extreme weapons. She is a versatile competitor who can win with extreme bo or kama routines, performs beautiful traditional forms, and is a solid point fighter as well. She is an active member of her community and participates in a variety of leadership programs, making her a great role model for younger members of the team.

Michael Molina

Michael Molina

Photo Courtesy: Michael Molina via Instagram

"Super Bomb" is the 9-year-old brother of Kodi, who is a world champion in his own right. In his seven years of experience, he has already won a variety of titles across multiple leagues, including NASKA overall grand championships at the 2021 Battle of Atlanta and AmeriKick Internationals. Since he began training at the age of two, his regimen has included strength, speed, agility, and conditioning training at "Rojo Dojo", where a number of world champions and national contenders gather to train. He is known for his incredible performance ability, always putting on a show when he graces the stage.

Gavin Richmond

Gavin Richmond

Photo Courtesy: Bobby Benavides

Richmond is yet another world champion being added to the Competitive Edge roster. The 13-year-old from San Antonio has been training for five years and has accumulated several grand championship titles, including wins at prestigious events like the Diamond Nationals and U.S. Open. The young star is a well-rounded athlete, not only because he competes in a variety of divisions at sport karate tournaments, but he also finished in 7th place in the pentathlon at the 2021 AAU Junior Olympics which included the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles, 1500m run, and shot put, resulting in him being named an All-American. He is currently recovering from a knee injury, but his high-flying routines will be back on the mat soon.

Madalynn Wiersma

Madalynn Wiersma

Photo Courtesy: Gabrielle Dunn

Wiersma (pictured with coach Gabrielle Dunn) is another rising star moving up from the underbelt division who is expected to make waves in the black belt division. She first moved up into the black belt ring at the WKC world championships, where she won her first world title. The 9-year-old Georgia native was the 2021 Underbelt Competitor of the Year for ProMAC and she secured underbelt grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and U.S. Open this past year.

Elijah Williams

Williams is a 16 year old from Lebanon, Tennessee who trains at Premier Martial Arts Lebanon. His eight years of martial arts training has culminated in black belts in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. He is on an upward trend as a competitor as he has started breaking into the top four in his divisions, which are some of the most stacked on the NASKA circuit. Williams has been a great asset to Competitive Edge in the past, stepping up to fill in for team demonstration, such as in the world championship effort at the 2021 U.S. Open.

The Competitive Edge coaching staff told Black Belt that they are thrilled to take their roster to another level with these moves. They believe that these new players will create the perfect storm to win more overall grand championships now, strengthen the team demo, and build a great foundation for the future of the program.

Jose Also
cdn.vox-cdn.com Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
The seemingly ageless Jose Aldo won his third straight fight at bantamweight Saturday claiming unanimous decision over Rob Font in the main event of UFC on ESPN 31. Font started well against the former featherweight champion working behind a strong jab that kept Aldo on his back foot and allowed Font to consistently land sharp punches. But with 30 seconds left in the first round, Aldo threw a stiff left jab and immediately followed with a powerful straight right hand that dropped Font though time ran out before he could do more damage.
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