The 33rd edition of the Ocean State Grand Nationals will be held this weekend at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.
And it might be the best yet.
Tournament organizer Don Rodrigues of Warwick’s Don Rodrigues Karate Academy made a concerted effort to raise the level of competition at the event. The result is an event unlike any he’s ever put together.
“The people I see coming in, the talent level, is really remarkable,” Rodrigues said. “Probably as good as any, if not the best ever. The people that are coming in are going to put on quite a show.”
OSGN is one of the longest-running sport karate tournaments in the Unites States and it’s still been going strong in recent years. For this year, Rodrigues wanted to up the ante.
“I really wanted to raise the level of competition,” he said. “We reached out to other countries and promoted it more that way. It’s worked because we’re getting these people to come in. It’s really cool. We’ve got the best competition that you can get. It should be really good.”
The event runs from Friday through Sunday, with the height of the competition set for Saturday night with the Nighttime Finals Extravaganza at 7 p.m.
“Saturday night is going to be spectacular,” Rodrigues said.
But that won’t be the only thing worth watching.
The competition begins Friday at 4 p.m. with the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations national team trials. The winners will qualify to represent the United States at the world championships in December. Several locals will be looking for return trips, including Dennis Malloy and Kimberly Ross.
“Whoever wins team trials will end up going to Turkey for the world championships in early December,” Rodrigues said. “That should be very entertaining.”
Friday’s slate also includes black belt team fighting and extreme forms and weapons competition.
“It’s some wild stuff,” Rodrigues said.
The competition really heats up Saturday, with fighting happening in more than 300 divisions. Some of the world’s top fighters will also be taking center stage. European stars Zolt Moradis and Lazzio Gombas are slated to compete, along with Canada’s Chelsea Nash, the No. 1 fighter in the world.
“People will see the very best in sport karate,” Rodrigues said.
Saturday’s slate will also feature a trick show that Rodrigues thinks will wow the crowd.
On Sunday, competitors who haven’t hit black belt status yet will take the spotlight.
“Sunday is totally dedicated to all the under black belts,” Rodrigues said. “The kids have their own day. I like doing it that way. The black belts have their time and the under belts can watch them, see what they want to be.”
And everybody will be watching something special.
“If they want to see the best that there is, this is the tournament to come and see,” Rodrigues said.
General admission tickets are $10 for Friday’s events and $20 for Saturday. Ringside tickets to the Saturday finals are also available for $35 and Golden Ringside tickets will go for $50.