Hello again all you wonderful people and welcome to Grand Sumo Breakdown. Mak is back with another review of sumo tournaments here on the home front. This time, we are reviewing the Lonestar Sumo Tournament that happened back on September 12, in San Antonio Texas.
This event was put on by Tom Zabel and Mighty Eagle Sumo and held at Kung Jung Mu Sul of Texas. Tom is the founder of Mighty Eagle Sumo Club and has over thirty years of experience with sumo wrestling. He also wrote the book “Sumo Skills: Instructional Guide for Competitive Sumo.” If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I highly recommend it. It will get you started on some Sumo basics as well as familiarize you with the winning moves / kimarite. The book is a GSB favorite and served as a guide for our sumo journey. It seemed only fitting that a man of Tom’s prestige and expertise should serve as the referee/gyoji for this event. While I would have loved to have seen a gunbai in Tom’s hand, maybe that can be added to the wishlist for 2021.
Anyway, the tournament was scored using the Texas State Champion Scoring system. Not knowing much about this method of point tracking, I was intrigued to learn more. Points are awarded to competitors throughout the state of Texas over the course of a year. Points are earned according to the following: Competing: 5 points, Wins: 1 point, Bronze: 1 point, Silver: 2 points, and Gold: 3 points.
The breakdown of the divisions for this tournament were:
Men’s Lightweight (187 lbs. and under)
Men’s Light Heavyweight (220 lbs. – 253lbs.)
Men’s Heavyweight (254 lbs. and up)
The announcers Cal and David served as the ring side commentators and provided excellent insights on the wrestlers histories. They took the time to highlight each participant and give a brief record history as well as some great play by play reactions.
I was happy to see some familiar names among the list of competitors and very excited to see what they could do this time around.
CLUBS AND SUMOTORI:
Dark Circle Sumo Club: (M) Justin Kizzart [Founder], (M) Sam Kempka, and (M) William Ward
Houston Sumo Club: (M) Nicholas Ton
Mighty Eagle Sumo Club: (F) Nicole Burgess, (M) Brandon Alexander, (M) Joshua Blackburn, and (M) Caleb Baccus
Oni Sumo Club: (F) Gabriela Posadas and (M) Brandon Page [Founder]
Pasadena Sumo Club: (M) Will Robinson
No Club Affiliation Mentioned: (M) Andrew Roden from Alabama
The video of the event can be found in the link below and as I said in my Consulate’s Cup review, I strongly urge you to check it out if you have the time.
************YOU’VE BEEN WARNED****************
Women’s Openweight Division:
This came down to an amazing playoff. At 2 and 2 both ladies fought to the bitter end to claim the gold. They were excellent bouts, showcasing Nicole’s powerful throws and mawashi grips against Gabriela’s balance and footwork. In the end though, footwork and ring sense hailed Gabriela as the victor.
MEDALISTS: (GOLD) Gabriela Posadas, (SILVER) Nicole Burgess
Men’s Lightweight Division:
Some of the most explosive tachiais belong to the lightweight division, and the same was true for Nicholas, Justin, and William. These guys hit fast, locked up, and took each other to the ground. Smack downs, pull downs, throws, and trips it was great to see these guys using a plethora of techniques to take each other down. While Nicholas’s tachiais were fierce, it all came down to master and student for the top spot. Will brought the intensity with every match but Justin’s prowess was on point.
MEDALISTS: (GOLD) Justin Kizzart, (SILVER) William Ward, (BRONZE) Nicholas Ton
Men’s Light Heavyweight Division:
The light heavyweights combine their speed and size for an awesome display of power. Fast off of the shikiri-sen, Sam Kempka keeps his feet square and his base low while using his long arms to force his opponents back. Brandon Page with his chest to chest belt grappling, standing his opponents up and forcing them off balance. Brandon Alexander absorbing the blows of every tachiai while keeping a smile on his face, stopping the charges cold and attempting to pull his opponents down. However, the powerful tachiais and piston arms that were Sam Kempka, prevailed.
MEDALISTS: (GOLD) Sam Kempka, (SILVER) Brandon Page, (BRONZE) Brandon Alexander
Men’s Heavyweight Division:
The heavyweight division are always ones I love to watch. While Will Robinson displayed his explosive arms and legs with powerful tsuppari, Joshua Blackburn charged his opponents in an attempt to secure a commanding grip on the mawashi. Meanwhile, Caleb Baccus plants his feet and keeps his base low, halting the charges and forcing his opponents to grapple. However, Andrew Roden was able to combine a defensive tachiai, blocking his opponents hands from reaching his mawashi and maneuvering them to the edge of the tawara for the win.
MEDALISTS: (GOLD) Andrew Roden, (SILVER) Caleb Baccus, (Bronze) Joshua Blackburn
By far, the openweight is my absolute favorite. This division is as close to the Japanese circuit of sumo competition. And by that, I mean it skill on skill, no weight divisions, no classes, just who can put who to the floor or out of the ring first. It all came down to experience in this division. Justin Kizzart using his fast and low tachiai combined with his ring sense, Sam Kempka with his square base and powerful tsuppari, and Andrew Roden with his defensive tachiai and belt deflections.
MEDALISTS: (GOLD) Andrew Roden, (SILVER) Sam Kempka, (Bronze) Justin Kizzart
It was a fantastic showing from all of the participants and the sense of camaraderie and fun blended well with the seriousness and competitive attitudes of each sumotori. Some of the big takeaways I got from watching this tournament were each person brings their own experience from different backgrounds and expresses it through their sumo:
Will Ward with his intense tachiais and using his BJJ grappling experience to get a hold of the mawashi and take down his opponents.
Nicholas Ton’s energetic bouts, taking the punishment and getting back up for another round as befitting of a never say die boxer.
Caleb Baccus using experience as a sumo heavyweight to maneuver his opponents for the yorikiri or the hatakikomi
Andrew Roden with his wrestling background, keeping his opponents at arms length, clinching, and forcing the takedown.
Sam Kempka and his oshi style sumo, keeping his opponents on their heals showing what the number one light heavyweight in the U.S. can do.
Justin Kizzart with his ring sense and poise, showing the years of experience as a U.S. Sumo Champion.
Cannot wait for Lonestar Sumo Tournament 2021! Hakkeyoi!
If you’d like to know more about a specific club or organization, check out the links below!
United States Sumo Federation: https://www.ussumo.org/startingsumo
Dark Circle Sumo: https://www.darkcirclesumo.com/about
Mighty Eagle Sumo: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Mighty-Eagle-Sumo-112948177091948/posts/
Pasadena Sumo Club: https://www.facebook.com/PasadenaSumo/