DVD 18a: 8th Annual LA Open Championship Vol. 1

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The Eighth Annual L.A. Open Championship, as presented by world- reknown Grandmaster Hee Il Cho, has never failed to attract the number of serious competitors as well as enthusiastic spectators, but with the countries of England, Ireland ,Mexico, Canada, Columbia, New Zealand and Austria being represented this year, the tournament had an especially international flavor.Not Just for international athletes, but also the best competitors that the United Sates has to offer were there. Rose Cassamassa, Dexter Brooks, Drew Christian... the list reads like who's who of the martial artists, both tournament and PKA full contact.

In the adult, black belt divisions, two returning champions, George Chung(forms winner from 1978 and 1979) and Cynthia Rothrock (who won the women's division last year as well as being a nationally ranked competitor) captured the coveted first place trophies. Always exciting to watch, Mr Chung enthralled the audience with his combination of martial arts skill and gymnastic grace. Miss Rothrock, as always ,showed the audience what martial artist looks like who has mastered grace and strength. Her form was a stunning demonstration of what forms are all about.

The men's black belt divisions were like battlefields, with not an easy victory to be held at any one. The lightweight trophy was claimed by Leonard Creer with Barry Gordon taking middleweight, Alvin Prouder taking light heavyweight, and Drew Christian winning in the heavyweight division.All three teams- English,Irish,and Canadian- did themselves proud at the tournament( no member of the English team lost a first match),regardless of being capped by having to spar in a way they weren't accustomed. Tough fighters with great spirit ,they fought well with Tony Swell of Great Britain taking third place in the men's black belt heavy weight division.

The teams championships followed the black belt sparring, and each match was a perfect study of skill, focus, and determination. Very notable at the tournament was the great English team last, year composed of such great fighters as John Longstreet, ""Nasty"" Anderson, Tommy Williams and Tony Dordey. After team competitions were completed, the audience go a chance to watch various martial arts masters give demonstrations of their skills from calligraphy to a punching and kicking escape from inside a sealed wooden box. Over 25 different martial arts masters were in attendance at the tournament,including such respected talents as Hapkido Master Bong Soo Hwang and Master Hwang. Also at the tournament, were such famous Hollywood figures as Kurk Russel(silkwood,swingshift) and James Keach ( the razors's edge, and moving violation).

Masters Kim and Yuong Moo Kwon of of the Ho Shin Moo Do school began the demonstrations with a presentation of breaking and stick fighting, as well as a different unarmed self-defense techniques, sometimes against as many as four assailants.

The American Wu Shu Association was next with a demonstration of weapons of the chinese style. Led by Master Roger Tung, an expert of 'Hard Style"" Tae Chi. The American Wu Shu association demonstrated northern Shaolin style forms as well as long knife and double broad sword expertise.

Following Master Tung was Master Chang Hee Park's demonstration of breaking ability. The gymnasium floor began to look like a lumber yard as board after board was split with just about every technique from spinning heel kicks to the very difficult scissor kick. Master Chang also amased the audience with a break that involved four different targets held in mid-air-all broken during the same technique.

Hapkido Masters Kwon and Kim next demonstration carious self-defense techniques and takedowns,with a special note of praise going to the student who assisted Master Kim during the demonstration. Anyone who can take as many controlled throws onto a hardwood floor without appearing even the least bit bruised is a credit to both himself and his instructor.

Always crowd pleasers, George Chung and Cynthia Rothrock demonstrated their favorite two person self-defense techniques, first shown in slow motion, and then executed with lighting precision. The final event of the evening, the battle for the Grand title of Grand Champion final began. Last years champion, Barry Gordon, paired off against Leonard Creer for the first elimination with Mr. Gordon winning the match-up. Alvin Prouder and Drew Christian also went at it in what had to be the hardest fought battle of the evening. Both Mr. Prouder and Mr. Christian are great competitors, and the spectators were stunned by the thundering techniques of these two men. At one point Master Cho even had to step in to warn about excessive contact, so fierce was the match, with Grandmaster Cho describing it afterwards as ""...Like two panthers fighting,"" Finally, even Mr Christian's famous rushing in ridgehand, reverse punch, hook kick counter attack was no avail against Mr. Prouder's skill and experience, and it was finally Mr. Prouder who won, placing Mr. Prouder against Mr. Gordon for the grand prize. In a very aggressive match, Mr.Prouder edged out Mr. Gordon, walking away with a very hard fought Grand Championship Trophy.

These two tapes are filled with action and make enjoyable viewing of the best martial artists in competition today.

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