On October 20, 2018 the 28th edition of the IFK American Championship in Rochester, New York took place. Shihan Mike Monaco 7th dan, national representative of IFK in the USA, has been the promoter of this event since 1990. This 28th edition of this great American Championship is the oldest Kyokushin competition in North America. This championship was also a qualification for the first IFK Americas Cup at the Arnold Battle of Atlanta (Arnold Schwarzenegger) March 1-3, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.
Karate Laval's team consisted of Shihan Gäetan Sauvé 5th dan, Senpai Alexandre Bertrand, Senseï Jonathan C. Hémond and his family of Natalia Aragao, Ann-Laure and Pier-Olivier. IFK affiliate, Shihan André Lafond's Karate Reality School of Berthierville was also present at this event, accompanied by Sensei Louise Lafond and Joseph Cossette.
There were more than 400 participants in this competition from several states in the United States as well as Canada. Several styles of Japanese and Chinese martial arts were present at this tournament, as well as several different Karate Kyokushin organizations. There were categories of kata, weapon kata, point system competitions, clickers, semi-knockdown and knockdown. The competition started around 9:00 am and ended around 9:30 pm. There was a lot of action and exciting fighting.
Sensei Jonathan C. Hémond coached the team of Karate Laval which was made up of the family of Sensei Hémond, Natalia Aragao and her two children, Ann-Laure and Pier-Olivier. The first to fight was Ann-Laure. In the semi-knockdown category, kicks in the face were forbidden. Her opponent was much taller and older than her. Ann-Laure fought with determination and did not let any respite to his opponent who tried to answer for blows. But the speed of execution of Ann-Laure had the upper hand over his opponent. In the first round, Ann-Laure made a waza-ari with a gedan mawashi, but her opponent complained of knee pain. After consulting the referees, the waza-ari was cancelled. Yet, when we watch the video we can see that the shot was delivered on the top of the thigh. It often happens that a powerful blow to the thigh gives a counter shock to the knee.
The second to fight was Natalia. His opponent was a black belt who had a novice knockdown experience. She was taller and heavier than Natalia. After a consultation with both fighters, the judge decided to prohibit kicks in the face. We worked on the state of mind of Natalia's fighter. Her opponent seemed nervous and even asked her what experience she had in combat. This request was interpreted as a lack of confidence, and along with other elements, we used it to build her own confidence. Natalia lashed out on her opponent using combinations of punches and kicks on her thighs while working at an angle. She prevented her opponent from using her greater reach of leg and arm. Which gave her an advantage in the second round. She won by unanimous decision. Despite an ankle injury, Natalia and the team were very proud of her performance.
There remained Pier-Olivier to fight. He had to do three fights because they were several in his category. The first fight was dominated by Pier-Olivier, he scored a lot of leg kicks on his opponent, who were smaller than him. This first fight continued with an extension, because his opponent was determined to fight. Pier-Olivier maintained his focus and worked well which earned him the victory. In the second fight, his opponent was taller and seemed more experienced than Pier-Olivier. He maintained a faster pace and hit harder than our Karate Laval representative. At the end of the first round, his opponent won by unanimous decision. Another fight was waiting for Pier-Olivier to determine third and fourth place. The fight was very balanced and very hot. His opponent moved very well and knew how to avoid many kicks from Pier-Olivier. Pier-Olivier tried several kicks and good combinations of punches. The fight was extended and ended with a decision two white and two red. Shihan Bill Richards gave the final decision in favour of Pier-Olivier who won the third place.
Joseph Cossette of Karate Reality of Berthierville - shihan André Lafond fought in the semi-knockdown. After an extension, in spite of all the efforts, the courage and the focus that he demonstrated, he lost himself by judge’s decision. His teacher, Shihan André Lafond of the Berthierville reality karate schools, fought in the knockdown (full contact competition without any protection). He did an excellent fight, showing his agility to dodge the kicks of his opponent and cash his powerful shots despite conceding more than fifteen years to his opponent. He also tried several kicks in the face, which unfortunately did not mark. From the second round, the physical condition of his opponent allowed him to better score on Shihan Andre.
Shihan Gäetan Sauvé has had a relationship of more than 40 years of karate with Shihan Mike Monaco 7th dan, the promoter of this competition. Shihan Sauvé was happy to accompany the Karate Laval team to this American championship. Many memories came back to him throughout the day. Shihan Mike Monaco 7th Dan , Shihan Gregory Stokelin Chief Referee of the competition and Shihan Bill Richards reminded him on several occasions that it was him who trained them at their first refereeing session, thirty years ago. Shihan Sauvé remembers it very well. It made him warm to see their level of expertise, and today exceeded all his expectations.
We would also like to congratulate Sensei Jonathan C. Hémond for his great work in refereeing. He refereed all day in semi-knockdown competition as well as the evening in knockdown. He is very comfortable on the maps and his decisions are quick and unequivocal. Bravo Sensei, you are honouring IFK Canada and Karate Laval. The refereeing director of IFK-USA took the opportunity to ask Sensei Jonathan to judge the fights for the first IFK Cup of the Americas to be held in Columbus Ohio in March 2019.
We would like to thank the entire Karate Laval team for representing us in the United States and for representing Karate Lavel and IFK Canada so well, despite their small numbers. Thank you also to our affiliates in Berthierville for their presence and help throughout this wonderful championship. A very special thank you to Senpai Alexandre Bertrand for accompanying the fighters and for the 2600 photos taken during this event.
Photos of the event can be viewed here.