2010 National All Styles Australian Championships

2010 Nationals

There was fire in competitors' bellies when more than 500 of Australia's elite martial artists converged on the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool, Sydney on 11–12 December for the 2010 National All Styles (NAS) National Championships, . The result was one of the most exciting and competitive multi-style martial arts competitions Australia has seen in recent times.

Sponsored by the Australian College of Sport Development and Sensei's Martial Arts Store, it was a huge event that brought together practitioners of many different styles to compete in a friendly but very competitive event that showcased excellence in disciplines ranging from traditional karate, kung fu and taekwondo to kenpo, tang soo do, silat, hapkido and freestyle martial arts. Competitors of all ages, from the tiny under-seven Pee Wees through to the veterans, battled it out over two days before the big event — Sunday's Champion of Champions final.

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This year's championships will be remembered not only for the exceptionally high standard of competition, but also for the memories, camaraderie and sportsmanship that has become the hallmark of NAS tournaments right around the country.

As their theme songs pounded through the venues speakers, competitors marched in, proudly striding out behind their state flags, as family and spectators rose to cheer them on. The teams lined up, filling the stadium floor, to be welcomed by NAS and WASO vice president Mr James Casey and host, NSW director Mr Gary Palmer. An emotional 'competitors' oath was read by local champions Dean Gould and Jamie Palmer, who vowed on behalf of all contestants that they would compete in fairness and in the true spirit of martial arts.

With the national anthem sung and the ceremony over, a buzz of activity and excitement swept through the stadium as nerves and adrenaline kicked in. A year of dedication and training had come down to this moment: it was time to take to the floor and find out who would be 2010's NAS National Champions.

The Championships always begin with the Forms/Kata divisions and as the first junior competitors gathered at their respective rings, their focus and discipline came to the fore.

Showing amazing dedication and skill for ones so young, these 'pocket rockets' displayed their skills with loud support and applause from every corner of the grandstands. The judges and referees had a challenging and unenviable task in trying to decide the winners, but Jaya Soewito-Martin of Praying Mantis Kung Fu Academy (NSW) dazzled enough to claim victory in the Pee Wee division, with Lochlain Dix of Ishinryu Karate (Vic) in second place and Brooklyn O'Mara from Northern Lakes Martial Arts (NSW Central Coast) grabbing third in a large and talented field. The 10–11 Years 5th Kyu–Black-belt division had many competitors, again really putting pressure on the officials, who in the end crowned Max Wilkinson from Shito Ryu Redlands (Qld) the 2010 champion, with Adam Baericke of Kenshinkan (Qld) second and Cleo Bournazos of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) coming in third.

The 14–15 Years 5th Kyu–Black-belt event was particularly challenging, with a count-back of scores being needed to separate some superb up-and-coming athletes. Samuel Gosling of Black-belt Martial Arts (NSW) claimed the title in the narrowest of margins over Ryan Abramczyk of Go-Kan-Ryu (Vic) and Vincent Xu from Chikara Kenpo Karate (NSW) — certainly entertaining and ones to watch in years to come.

With some fine performances on every ring, the audience were enthralled and entertained wherever they looked. In the Women's Novice division, Genna Bradley of Kokoro Kai (ACT) took first place and let everyone know that she will be a force to reckon with in the future. Lynne Rice of RMAA Seishin Zenryoku Karate (Qld) was a close second, with Rebecca Munro of Unsu Kai Karate (Vic) in third.

Meanwhile, on another mat the Men's Veterans contenders were in the final stages of a thrilling contest showcasing the skills that come from decades of dedicated training. David Rush of Shoalhaven Shotokan Karate (ACT) was the deserved victor, with Paul Mitchell of United Taekwondo (NSW) runner-up and James Mills from Taikudo (NSW) in third.

1. The Big Guns

What an incredible morning to begin the championship fights. Everywhere poise, focus, dedication and determination were on display — and nowhere more than among the 'big guns' of the Men's and Women's Open Black-belt Forms, who took control of the mats and also everyone's attention. Tension was high as the best in the country lined up to display their katas, knowing only the top eight would qualify to make the final later in the day. And as each competitor performed, the tension grew.

In the Women's Forms we were treated to the skills of multiple championship winner Pania Williams, Sherry Bower, Melissa Urbano, Jessica Trajcevski and Denise Fung, to name just a few. The Men's division showcased the talents of such great competitors as Dean Gould, David Rush, Delio Senatore, Paul Mitchell, Ardell Moore and Wayne Vella.

After a nail-biting final, claiming the title yet again as 2010 Female Black-belt Forms Champion was Pania Williams of Kenshinkan (Qld) with runner-up Sherry Bower of JKA Karate (Qld), while Dean Gould's precise performance won him the men's title over second-placegetter David Rush, from ACT-based club Shoalhaven Shotokan.

With the forms events completed, poise would take a back seat to speed and power as competitors padded up with mouthguards, mitts and shin-guards for the Point-sparring and Continuous Sparring events. First up was Continuous Sparring, which is rapidly becoming one of the most popular and hotly contested events in NAS competitions and is due to be expanded even further next year.

The furious action began again with the little guys in the 7–9 Years division, who enjoyed loud and animated support from an enthusiastic crowd. Bout after bout they were eliminated until Chelsea Hobday of Freestyle Kung Fu (Qld) faced off with Joseph Rodwell of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) in the final. Joseph had a height and reach advantage but the elusive ringcraft skills of Chelsea made her a difficult target, earning here the win by split decision in an entertaining battle.

Their bigger 'brother and sisters in the arts' in the 15–17 Years age groups kept the action coming. In the boys' final, Matt Bryce of Chikara Kenpo Karate (NSW) and Craig Knott of RMAA Seishin (Qld) used all the skills from leg-sweeps to jumping kicks to try to gain an upper hand in a seesawing battle. In the end, the high kicks from Matt's long legs earned him a popular victory. In the girls' division, the fast hand combinations of Cassandra Hamilton from Emu Heights Self Defence (NSW) were the deciding factor in her win over a determined Danielle Smith of Success Martial Arts (Qld).

The Open Advanced Continuous events excite spectators with their non-stop display of power, control and speed and this year it was no different. Several fired-up fighters were even warned for excessive force and contact as the battle for supremacy unfolded. No quarter was given or asked for as team-mates Nicki Kennedy and Rebecca Rogers, both of Kenshinkan (Qld), fought for the crown. In the end it was Nicki's ability to deliver some long kicks and counter Rebecca's quick hands that sealed her victory. In the men's division final, the power shown by Joel Fullerton of Kenshinkan (Qld) and Andrew Harrison of Pencak Silat (Vic) captivated onlookers. Both fighters stood toe-to-toe and gave no ground, but effective blocking and counter-strikes from Joel saw him get the judges' nod in a tough encounter.

2. State Rivalry

A highlight of the NAS National Championships is the State of Origin Challenge, when club loyalties take second place as former competitors come together under their state banners in seven-member teams to take on the other states for the Team State of Origin Shield. As always, it was one of the weekend's most hotly contested events, as each state employed guile and strategy to snare three wins and thus progress to the next round.

The spectators yelled themselves hoarse in support as round by round the eliminations took place. Having missed out last year, NSW was absolutely determined to reclaim the crown as they faced off against Victoria in the Women's Advanced final. After four bouts it was all even, but the fifth and final bout went to NSW as they scored a stunning victory on the bell. Dancing and hugging ensued from the NSW fighters who, in true testament to the inclusive culture of NAS, represented from five different styles.

The Men's Advanced event saw the highly fancied NSW and Qld teams both eliminated early in some heated battles, leaving South Australia and Victoria in the final. The team from SA proved too strong on the day, claiming victory after the third bout.

This brought the first day of competition to a thunderous conclusion and thus began a sleepless night for many, as Sunday would bring the start of the point-sparring contests and the battle for Champion of Champions 2010.

3. Crunch time!

After such an incredible first day, the stadium was filling up early as everyone gathered to witness the crowning of national champions for each age group, as well as the crowning of the male and female lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight champions — and then the fight for the ultimate prizes: the 2010 Champion of Champions titles.

With parents, clubs, coaches and a pumped-up crowd cheering on the competitors, the spectators were as fiery as the fighters — some of who decided their matches quickly, while others took theirs to a sudden-death point.

Among the standouts was the Male 12–13 Years 10th Kyu–6th Kyu division, in which Blake Benson of Northern Lakes Martial Arts (NSW) defeated Joel Sims of ATA Martial Arts (Qld), with Cameron Morris of Ajuken Karate (NSW) fighting hard to claim third spot. In the 8–9 Years 5th Kyu–Black-belt event, young Taylah Stevens of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) took the double crown with a win over Alyssa Fenton of Red Dragon Martial Arts (Qld).

Another exciting event was the Female 14–15 Years 10th–6th Kyu, in which Natalie Attard of Ajuken Karate (NSW) proved too strong for Holly-Rose Peters of Damashi (Qld) and Charlee Reiher from Northern Lakes Martial Arts (NSW). In the Male 14–15 Years 5th Kyu–Black-Belt class, Jaydon Zeledon of Goju Ryu Bushido Karate Academy (NSW) showed impressive skills in a deserved victory over Ryan Thomas of Shoalhaven Shotokan (ACT) and a determined Vincent Xu of Chikara Kenpo Karate (NSW). Meanwhile over on ring six, the Men's Advanced competitors had the judges on their toes keeping up with the fast pace. Josef Eberl of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) proved fastest, taking the title in a close tussle with Daniel Walker of Combined Self Defence and Fitness (NSW), leaving Ashley Densmore of RMAA Seishin Zenryoku Karate (Qld) in third spot.

Then came the moment NAS followers wait all year for: the crowning of the 2010 weight-division champions and the following elimination fights to decide who would be Champion of Champions.

In the Lightweight division, the very experienced Pania Williams of Kenshinkan (Qld) — also a mother of four — took on Melissa Urbano of Revolution Martial Arts (Vic). Both girls meant business right from the start, but Pania's precise hand and leg combinations saw her outscore Melissa for the victory. Jamie Palmer of Chikara Kenpo (NSW) finished third. The Men's Lightweight title was taken by Delio Senatore of Seishin Ryu (Qld), who was too quick for Steven Taylor of RMAA Seishin (Qld).

The Women's Middleweight final saw Nicki Kennedy of Kenshinkan (Qld) defeat Catherine Wilkinson of Go-Kan-Ryu (SA) in a tough match. Halfway through the bout scores were equal, but Nicki was able to use her long legs to her advantage and score with some excellent kicks to take the points. In the men's division, Dean Gould from Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) was too sharp for Thomas Wright of Kokoro Kai Karate, winning by a clear margin.

The Welterweight divisions — a recent addition to NAS competition — added an extra challenge in the final fight-off between division winners for 2010. In the women's final, Sherry Bower of JKA Karate (Qld) outpointed a fast and determined Jessica Trajcevski of Goshin Ryu (NSW) to take the title, while in the men's, David Nicol of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) scored a comfortable win over Sam Brown of Sansho Kan Karate Do (Vic).

The Female Heavyweight division saw Amber Wilson of Westside Karate Academy (Vic) go toe-to-toe with Caroline Buckley of Kokoro Kai Karate (ACT), but Amber was just too quick and used her longer reach to take the winning points. The Male Heavyweight final was a battle of the big boys, with Wayne Vella of Goju Ryu Bushido Karate Academy (NSW) exchanging heavy hits with Mark Porreca from Shoalhaven Shotokan Karate (ACT), with both fighters cautioned over contact. With legs too strong and fast for Mark, Wayne emerged the winner.

4. Champions decided

The Champion of Champions elimination bouts were tough, hard-scoring affairs, with each fighter acutely aware of what lay on the line. After some of the closest match-ups all year, the final contenders were decided:

The Female Champion of Champions final would be between Sherry Bower of JKA Karate (Qld) and Amber Wilson of Westside Karate Academy (Vic). Both girls were new to this level of competition and started cautiously, testing each other out.

Sherry really wanted the crown, but Amber had other ideas and the points started to mount up for each side. With not long to go, Amber took control with some high kicks to the head and it was enough to claim the penultimate NAS title.

The Male Champion of Champions final bout saw Dean Gould of Go-Kan-Ryu (NSW) and Delio Senatore of Seishin Ryu Karate (Qld) trade point for point in an intense battle, neither giving an inch. Dean's strategy going into the match was to try and take an early lead and then defend it, but Delio was determined not to let him get away on the scoreboard. The outcome was decided only in the dying seconds after several high-scoring reverse-kicks from Dean. It was an emotional win for Dean Gould who, as last year's runner-up, had committed himself to intense training all year with a focus on claiming the NAS Champion of Champions belt. As Mr Phil Chapman of Sensei's Martial Arts presented the belt, Dean was hoisted on the shoulders of his team-mates to the delight and cheers of the crowd.

The final event of the weekend was the announcement of the most successful state team at the 2010 titles, who would be named 'Champion State'. Queensland claimed the cup for the second year running and is now the custodian of the President's Cup until this year's NAS Nationals.

An outstanding weekend of martial arts action — thanks not only to the competitor, but also to a huge roster of volunteers, members of the Australian Referees Board and the NAS directors — thus came to an end, leaving the victors and the vanquished to assess their year's achievements and contemplate the challenges of 2011.

5. Download Tournament Results

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