The 2nd annual Sport Karate Museum National Pro-Am Championship and Expo was held at the Galleria Hilton on the Southwest Freeway in Houston Texas Friday 10/1/17 and Saturday 10/2/2017. This year’s event well was well attended with competitors and dignitaries from all over the country and Texas. The who’s who list of VIP’s read like a dictionary of modern martial arts history. Authors, grandmasters, world champions, living legends and great competition were just a taste of what the Expo had to offer.
The head general of the Sports Karate Museum is Gary Lee. He is the chief executive officer of the museum. Through his original vision of the future of martial arts a new understanding of who we are has evolved. Great competitors and famous people are remembered and eulogies to those who competed and many who are no longer with us. This is only part of the mission. For all intense purposes this may be the only remembrance of the people who have given so much to Sport Karate and others who without this vestige of the past, will be forgotten by time. It is important to donate and support the Sport Karate Museum’s activities to maintain its function as the only living record of our deeds.
Consider that all noble endeavors don’t come cheaply because if they did anyone could do them. During the last several years many have attended the expo and came away with a renewed feeling of self as well as enjoyed the fellowship of other great martial artist. Gary Lee and his supporters are to be commended for their hard work in making this event a success.
Friday’s daytime events were dedicated to seminars and testing of individuals for high rank levels. Among the great masters there giving seminars were Dale Kirby best known as the author of several books and a grand master of Japanese swordsmanship. Troy Dorsey, Ishmael Robles and Jimmy Tabares tested for highest black belt ranks with legendary Grand Master Pat Burleson heading up a Grand Sokeship council of prominent masters and grand masters from all over the country.
Bubble wrap competition headed up the Saturday activities a number junior divisions were up for competition in the expo. A number adult divisions were ran culminating in the grand showdown eliminations for the “Kata Wars”. Great competitors from around the country were present. A mention of two past competitors and world champions is needed. Rommel Gargoles and Bear Loebe were unable to compete. Rommel injured his knee at the China Gold acrobatic show and Bear Loebe lost his school from Hurricane Harvey and is spending his time and effort in reconstituting his school.
After an intense competition from world champions Carol Parenti, David Johnson, Dean Pyles, Lonnie Walker, Donnie Lee, Cindy Key, Robert Hartfield, Dr Kamrun Jenabzadeh, Garett Lee and Tracy Armstead the top five finalists were chosen. Johnnie Murphy winner of last year’s Kata Wars and runner up from last year, Clarissa Villanueva, were automatically seeded for two slots in the nighttime banquet and Kata Wars finals and as such did not have to do the run offs. This basically finalized the Saturday daytime events. On a special note, Johnnie Murphy had competed earlier in the day at Wayne Nguyen’s Ocean Nationals Karate Tournament in Galveston Texas, won the three divisions he entered including adult 18 and over weapons, and then rushed back to Houston to compete at the Kata Wars.
Saturday Nights Banquet and Roast
The night time banquet hall was well attended. The ballroom ended up packed. A mention of some of the dignitaries attending is needed because of their status and a show of respect. They were Pat Burleson, Jim Harrison, Linda Denley, Daryl Steward, Dale Kirby, Jerry Pennington, Troy Dorsey, Ismael Robles, Al Garza, Jimmy Tabares, Zip White, Jim Butin, George and Chris Minshew, Randy Dugas, Jim Paskey,” Rooster” David Lableu, Drew Arthur, Norman Roberts and a long list of other VIP champions and Grand Masters.
Now a Roast of George Minshew was one of the top attractions at the banquet. A number of individuals rose to give George a few new to things to think about or not to think about. There were some laughs at George’s expense but George is tough and took it in stride. After a bunch of comical and informative comments by the crew and a very funny video about George’s childhood and early years it was Georges turn.
We know George already knows everything because he’s been around a long long time so an amazing dissertation on a bunch meaningless thoughts and stories was forced upon us. I will admit some of us were laughing hard due to the well put punch lines. Chris Minshew sat in awe of her husband’s ability to stand up in front of the banquet hall and spout off such artistic baloney and ridiculousness. Fortunately, for George she was smiling and a couple of laughs appeared from her so I guess George didn’t have to worry about sleeping on the couch that night or get a severe beating from the former multiple women’s fighting world champion for incurring any kind of public humiliation. Personally I think she can take him but that’s neither here nor there. I can only say George should have been a comedian.
After a million awards were given out and all the booze at the bar was polished off the Kata Wars finals were ran. Johnnie Murphy, David Johnson, Clarissa Villanueva, Dean Pile and Dr Kamrun Jenabzadeh lined up to finalize the nights activities. The order was established by luck of the draw.
First up was Dean Pyles who recently appeared on America’s most talented with his daughter. He ran a great combo Bo and Sword creative musical kata. Next was Clarissa Villanueva who ran an amazing Go Pai Sho traditional Japanese kata. Third up was Dr Kamrun Jenabzadeh and he ran TetSu a favorite Japanese kata of Gary Lee. David Johnson showed up in a mask and ran his fast creative musical bo kata. Last up was Johnnie Murphy. Mr. Murphy calmly walked out and announced his form then proceeded to captivate the audience and the judges with a powerful fast and dynamic Japanese style creative sword kata complete with jump spins that landed to cuts. The judge’s favorite was last year’s champion and for a second year Johnnie Murphy pulled off the win. Prizes included a beautiful Kata Wars trophy cup, a new high end heavy weight karate uniform, a stunning watch, a bouquet wicker carrier with three bottles of rare micro-brewery beer and of course…cash. Wow what a haul and winning at two tournaments in two different cities in one day. Congratulations to Johnnie Murphy on his/my win… Lol.