AKA Warrior Cup
Photo Courtesy: AKA Warrior Cup


The Official Black Belt Magazine Sport Karate Rankings have been updated once again based on the committee's decisions following the 2022 AKA Warrior Cup. There have not been any new divisions added to the rankings like there have been in previous updates, but the list of recognized junior (14-17) point fighters has been expanded.

Some big names from the NASKA circuit are trending upwards after their performances in Chicago. Rashad Eugene of the newly-formed Team Diamond catapulted himself to the top spot in men's CMX weapons, and Team Next Level's Shaquan Parson used his high-flying routine to quite literally jump up to the number two spot in men's CMX forms. There has also been movement in men's point fighting, where Parson's Next Level teammates Tyson Wray and James Pore are climbing the lightweight ranks and Team Dojo Elite's Devon Hopper and Ryan George placed themselves in the heavyweight picture. Hopper has also made his debut in the open weight rankings, while Warrior Cup champion Darren Payne jumps up a spot in that division for his big win.

In the 17 and under divisions, stellar performances by Top Ten Team USA's Mason Bumba and Team AKA's Aidan Kennedy put them at the top of the CMX weapons and forms divisions, respectively. On the girls' side, a dramatic three-way tie in the 14-15 traditional weapons divisions resulted in a very close race in the rankings between Rylee Rainone, Averi Presley, and Sofia Rodriguez-Florez. The youth divisions are also incredibly close. The boys have Michael Molina, Judah Sagawa, Adomas Rackauskas, and others vying for the top rank in multiple divisions, while Isabella Nicoli and Kodi Molina duke it out for top honors amongst the ladies.

Last but certainly not least, the senior division saw a lot of action at the Warrior Cup. Abid Benwali's impressive run to the final four lifted him to number one, with grand champion runner-up Anthony Merricks sliding into second in his debut as a 30+ competitor. Last season's senior stalwarts of Yoskar Gamez and El-Java Abdul-Qadir trail Benwali and Merricks closely. On the forms and weapons side, Samuel Diaz III has asserted himself as the current king of that division by claiming the top spot in both forms and weapons. There's also a new face from the senior division, as Jeff "Sushi" Doss returned to competition representing Team Heartland and earned positions in the adult traditional and senior forms rankings.

What is the next event that will shift the Black Belt Magazine Rankings? The Compete Nationals in Ontario, California coming up February 25-27. Stay tuned for all the latest news and updates in the sport karate world. Check out the link below to watch the entire AKA Warrior Cup finals, brought to you by SportMartialArts.com, MATAction, and Black Belt Magazine.

WATCH: AKA Warrior Cup Finals

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