DRKA hosts Grand Nationals

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The Don Rodrigues Karate Academy hosted its 39th annual Ocean State Karate Grand Championships last weekend at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, which hosted some of the top competitors across 30 US states and seven countries around the world.

The tournament took place from Friday-Sunday, and is part of the North American Sport Karate Association’s yearly tour, which includes 13 tournaments overall in 2019. The Ocean State Grand Nationals is one of the oldest and largest karate tournaments throughout all of North America.

“It was a very, very successful tournament even though we had some challenges going on throughout the country due to (the weather and travel). It was a great tournament overall, the talent that came was about as good as there has ever been. There were many people from outside the country competing … it was amazing,” said Don Rodrigues.

Rodrigues’ team has been sponsored by Paul Mitchell since 1987. This year’s club had one of its strongest outings ever, making noise at the highest level of competition.

“We had a lot of locals do really well, some went on to win some of the grands, even against some competitors from outside of the country. Team Paul Mitchell dominated the finals, we took the finals for team fighting as well as forms, but we also took seventh overall at the grand championships which is kind of unheard of,” said Rodrigues.

Overall, Rodrigues and his team were excited to put on a show in front of thousands of guests, and hopes to see the tournament continue to grow as it preps for its historic 40th turn next year.

“The people that attended responded in such a positive way. We have already received hundreds of emails telling us how great the event was, how they enjoyed it, and that they are hoping to come back next year. This is what it’s about, you put on a great show and treat people well, then they want to come back,” said Rodrigues. “The beautiful part about this tournament versus (other sports) is that we have people as old as 70 competing and as young as 3 or 4 years old. We just had so many positive things, the response was tremendous.”

Rodrigues and his team already have their sights set on 2020, and hope to put on their best tournament yet.

“We’re already thinking about next year. Next year will be our 40th year which is a great milestone … not many tournaments have been around for 40 years,” said Rodrigues. “This sets us up tremendously for next year. We’re always looking to improve and we are already putting the plans in place to do so. We’re looking forward to it, we’re very excited.”

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