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Sport Karate in Latin America – Mexico


Hello everyone, my name is Luis Jimenez. I’ve been training martial arts for over 32 years. I was born in Mexico City, a place with hundreds of martial arts schools and where tournaments are all over the place. Sometimes there are 4 tournaments in the city on the same weekend. That big is Mexico City.

Luis JimenezWhen the NBL got to Mexico in 1992, we all Mexican competitors were introduced to a whole new world. At that time, traditional forms and point sparring were the divisions you had at tournaments. Tough divisions I must say because of the very few divisions and lots of competitors. No less than 20 guys in each adult division. Funny fact, with plenty more divisions now days, at the big events you still find more than 30 competitors in traditional forms and no less than 12 fighters in each of the 12 adult weight classes, in both male and female divisions.

The NBL brought the creative weapons, the contemporary forms, the musical forms, the continuous sparring, the breaking and the team sparring to the Mexican tournament world. Competitors from Canada, the USA and mainly Guatemala started showing at these international events with some good competitors and lots of world class athletes that were following the points to the added expansion of the League.

The NBL has a great format, tournaments are divided by regions. In these regions you have conferences. The conferences can have up to 6 tournaments. The tournaments have value in points. The more Black Belts compete at a tournament, the more points this tournament will have the next year-season. In my personal opinion, all martial arts leagues should follow this format.

Competitors attend the events per conference in order to get ranked, if you attend the events in your conference and you place in the top 8 of your divisions you will get points. Obviously placing in first place will give you more points than 2nd, 3rd, etc. At the end of the year, if you placed as the top in your division, you can attend the Super Grands World Games and avoid rounds of fights. Getting ranked as first seeded will put you at the end of the rounds. All fifth place seeded players must eliminate each other and the winner moves up with the 4th seeded players and so on until the first seeded players rack. Wild cards competitors can enter the divisions but with no points, they then need to start eliminating themselves even before we get to the seeded players.

Going back to my story, the NBL had an immediate success in Mexico and Guatemala, NBL sanctioned tournaments started to pop out and the Latin American competitors started traveling to tournaments in different cities and countries in a race for points but also in a mission to go to different places and conquer victories in foreign lands. The best part of all this, no matter whom you beat or who beat you in the season, you will get the chance to compete against them at the Super Grands for the World Championship!

Since 1992, the Guatemalan competitors have given the best representation from Latin America. Since the early and mid 90’s Guatemala has always won world championships at every single Super Grands. They were the first country that won the coveted Adult Male Team Sparring title from the Americans in 1996, then Mexico won the same division in 1997 giving Latin America the title back to back. These 2 titles made history in the sport karate world and gave the American competitors a good reason to sign up more teams in this division… Well, 1998 was won for a mixed team with an American, a Canadian and a British! Adult Male Team Sparring is the most exciting division in my personal opinion and Guatemala has won 3 of the last 4 Team Sparring titles at Super Grands. This year USA has great teams competing in this division, I won’t miss this division at the Super Grands in December!

In the last 5 years, Mexico has accumulated more than 50 world championships in different divisions, they are dominating the Traditional divisions with Daniela Barrientos as their leader with 9 titles in Japanese Forms. Miguel Delgadillo, Sergio Calva, Damian Marquez, Rene Torres, Eugenio Compean, Brandon Aguilar, Juan Carlos Damian, Eliud Escalante, Hugo Mendoza, Andres Carrion, Marco Aguilar y Alberto Valdez have won world titles in Japanese, Korean, Kenpo, Soft, Senior and Traditional Weapons.

Guatemala has the finest weapons competitors in the world, every year they bring several world titles with their weapons back home. People like Juan Jose Rodriguez, Edgar Cordova, Arturo Armendariz, Jorge Martinez, Amanda Armendariz are weapons multi world champions holders, just to name a few.

In sparring, for the last 10 years, Guatemala & Mexico have grown tremendously and every year, several competitors from these countries have fighters vying for world titles on the main stage at the Super Grands, wining most of the matches and it gives the Latin American audience a huge reason to make noise and celebrate at each finals at this prestigious event.

Every year more countries have representation at the Super Grands World Games. In 2014 we had teams in the house from Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Mexico and the USA. The NBL is launching an expansion crusade and is trying really hard to sanction more tournaments in different countries. With 3 National Conferences in Mexico and 1 in Guatemala, tournaments in Canada, El Salvador and Honduras this league is getting stronger year after year. Belgium, Colombia, Chile, Ireland and Venezuela are close to start sanctioning events with the NBL. Local, small leagues have been created in these countries and they are already using the SKITA (NBL) rules, allowing competitors from these countries to get to know the rules in all divisions, to learn how to use properly the competitor cards and eventually sending teams to compete at the super Grands World Games.

We all want a bigger and global NBL. A Super Grands were you compete against people from different countries in the world and travel to other countries seeking for adventures while bringing home some well-deserved awards.

See you soon folks. It is an honor to share my thoughts with you all. Any suggestions for my next topic?

Luis Jimenez
7 times NBL world champion & NBL Representative for Mexico
The Mexican Open International Martial Arts Championships Promoter