Forms and Weapons

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.

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As I get ready to board a plane for the Amerikick Internationals I admit I am both nervous and excited to be going to a large tournament for the first time in almost two years. The nervousness comes from not only the new strains of Covid-19 and being around large groups of people, but also the fact that I haven't been able to judge at as many events over the last two years as normal. Fighters refer to it as ring rust, but its not just the competitors that have to shake it off but the officials too.
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Originally reported by SportMartialArts.com via Looper.com and Netflix, former NASKA and ISKA world champion Dallas Liu will appear as Zuko in a live-action rendition of the popular animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The young star has numerous other acting credits including work on Marvel's Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is scheduled for release on September 3rd. As Zuko, Liu will be a master of the art of "firebending", born as a prince in the "Fire Nation Royal Family".

As a sport karate competitor, Liu was a dominant force in the youth division for several seasons. He won titles consistently with his extreme routines, both empty-handed and while wielding a bo, as well as his traditional sword kata. The prodigy collected a number of NASKA overall grand championships, including major wins at the U.S. Open and Diamond Nationals. He started competing on the national circuit as a student from Chozen Martial Arts in California, and would go on to represent Team All Stars.

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Ariel Torres has been a nearly unstoppable force in the traditional forms division on the open sport karate circuit for several years and currently represents Team Revolution. His combination of technical skill, power, and showmanship has enabled him to extend his success to highly competitive World Karate Federation events, including a defeat of the great Antonio Diaz to become the 2019 Pan American Champion.

His continued training under the widely-respected Sensei Robert Young of Kenseikan Dojo in Miami helped Torres carry his momentum to a win at the Paris qualifier in June of this year. His status on Team USA resulted in a spot in the iconic Got Milk? promotional campaign and an appearance on Good Morning America. The countless hours of training and promotion for the Tokyo Olympics all came to fruition on Friday.

On August 6th, Ariel Torres became the first American to win an olympic medal in karate. He once again faced Venezuelan legend Antonio Diaz in the bronze medal match and was able to claim victory by just under four tenths of a point. Not only is this a major accomplishment for Torres, but it is something the entire sport karate community can be proud of. His medal is the first olympic hardware won by a sport karate competitor since 1988, when two-time Diamond Nationals champion Arlene Limas won a gold medal in Taekwondo.

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