We are just days away from the 2023 Battle of Atlanta, a North American Sport Karate Association world tour event with a storied history as one of the best tournaments in the sport. From the addition of unique divisions to the world class caliber of competition descending upon Georgia this weekend, there is a lot to look forward to.
Headlining the special divisions in Atlanta are the Korean Challenge and Battle Mania. The Korean Challenge was designed to parallel the NASKA traditional challenge division that currently only allows Japanese forms. Although the Korean Challenge is not an official NASKA division, hosting the division is a great way to give tae kwon do and tang soo do stylists an additional opportunity to compete. The eliminations will be ran as a normal division with a restricted forms list and strict limitations on alterations to the forms. The top four competitors will advance to a bracket-style head-to-head contest. Two competitors will run their forms at the same time and the judges will vote to determine the winner. The two semifinal winners will advance to the final, and they must perform a different poomsae for the finals. The full details and rules of this bonus division can be found here.
Battle Mania has been a staple at the Battle of Atlanta for several years now, as the promoters aim to make “The Battle” the premiere point fighting event in the United States. Competitors can enter four additional sparring divisions for just $69, with the extra divisions including tag team, mixed doubles, continuous, padded sword, and even an open rank division for under belts. This is a great way for fighters to have almost as many opportunities to compete as the forms and weapons competitors.
Planning on coming to battle in these divisions? Two important features of this event to remember are that it is pre-registration ONLY and there are mandatory weigh-in times. There will be NO at-the-door registration. The pre-registration only format allows the promoters to better predict timing of the divisions and provides a smoother, more efficient tournament. The mandatory weigh-in times are Thursday June 15th at 4:00 PM, Friday June 16th at 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM, and Saturday June 17th at 9:00 AM (all times EST).
Not only is the Battle of Atlanta a great tournament for competitors because of their initiatives to improve based on athlete feedback, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to be a spectator. To highlight some of the adult storylines, let’s start with the men’s open weight point sparring division. This is projected to be the largest open weight division in America this year, featuring a wide variety of fighters ranked highly by Black Belt Magazine. Will we see another matchup between lightweight phenoms Tyson Wray and Bailey Murphy? Will Team Paul Mitchell’s Alex Mancillas with two overall grands under his belt this year have a chance to dance with Ocean State Grand Nationals (OSGN) SuperFights winner and former JPM member Kameren Dawson of Team Dojo Elite? Will we see other superstars in the field like Avery Plowden and more? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
The sheer numbers make the men’s division stand out, but let’s not forget those lady warriors. Katarina Herman has been hot all year, and there are plenty of talented female fighting stars that hope the neutralize her world class leg. Ki’Tana Everett gave her a thriller in the OSGN finals, and I am sure fight fans everywhere would love to see that rematch.
Speaking of some amazing female athletes, Haley Glass makes her return after nearly a 6-month hiatus as she recovered from injury and performed for Royal Caribbean cruise lines. She plans to pick up where she left off as the favorite to win both forms and weapons grand championships. However, her Paul Mitchell teammate Gabrielle Rudolph seeks to continue her winning ways this season by combating CMX athletes with her traditional kata. In weapons, Team AKA’s Sara Campbell wants to use a difficult bo form to lead her to glory.
Then there’s men’s forms and weapons, which is bound to be wild. Top Ten Team USA’s Mason Stowell, the Ultimate Grand Champion from last year, returns and is the betting favorite to take the traditional forms title back to his hometown of Denver (with the Nuggets’ new Larry O’Brien trophy of course). Men’s traditional weapons is wide open as the dominant Jake Presley is out with a fractured fibula. Esteban Tremblay, Dawson Holt, Samuel Diaz III, Ben Jones, and Rashad Eugene will all be gunning for that title.
Many of those men I just named will be duking it out for the CMX championships as well. Ben Jones won the weapons title at the Quebec Open, before that was Dawson Holt’s double swords at OSGN, and Esteban Tremblay started the season strong with overall grand championships at the AKA Warrior Cup and Compete Internationals. Forms is a similar story, with additional contenders like Salef Celiz and Shaquan Parson in the mix.
Many of these athletes are expected to clash in the Battle Zone Finals, where the highest honors will be decided. Tune in Saturday night to catch the action on the Battle of Atlanta’s Facebook page, as I’ll be on the mic calling the action with Mallory Woods. If you want to learn more about some of the athletes mentioned in this preview, make sure you catch the LIVE episodes of my podcast streaming from the event. Good Morning, Sport Karate is on at 8:00 AM EST and Inside Sport Karate featuring some of the athletes in the finals at 4:30 PM EST on Saturday. You also won't want to miss the Battle Zone Countdown with analysis from myself, Mallory Woods, Josh Buford, and Mary Amato at 6:15 PM EST just before th finals begin! See you there, get ready to Battle!
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