DRKA to host 39th annual Grand Nationals

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The Don Rodrigues Karate Academy will be holding its 39th annual Ocean State Grand National karate tournament on Friday, April 12th to Sunday April 14th at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Warwick.

This is an international tournament that hosts some of the top competitors not only in the country, but throughout the world. This year’s event will feature martial artists from seven countries and over 30 US states. The tournament has also welcomed numerous celebrity guests over the years, including Chuck Norris and Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee.

This tournament is part of the North American Sport Karate Association’s yearly tour, which will include 13 overall competitions this year. Don Rodrigues will be sponsored by Paul Mitchell, who has been involved since 1987.

“It’s a great tournament and it is great for the local economy, not just for the karate community but for the entire Warwick and Rhode Island area. This is our 39th annual event and we call it, ‘The Legacy Continues,’ because it has a long legacy of celebrities and athletes that have been here over the years. This year looks like it is going to be one of our most successful tournaments in recent years,” said Rodrigues, who along with his wife Christine have spearheaded the annual event. “The Crowne Plaza is already booked, we have about 420 hotel nights coming through there and we have 11 backup hotels that are going to be hosting guests from the tournament. We have seven different countries and over 30 states coming to compete in the event.”

The tournament will look largely the same as year’s past in terms of execution … however, Rodrigues believes that this year’s event may host the most talented group of competitors ever.

“The biggest difference this year more than anything is the talent level … we have an incredibly talented group of people coming in throughout the country and all over the world to compete,” said Rodrigues. “We’ve got people coming in from Europe, Mexico, Canada, we even have people coming from Hungary. We’re really excited about the talent coming in, we have some great fighters that will be here. Not just our fighters, but our forms and weapons competitors are the best in the world.”

Rodrigues expects Rhode Islanders to make some noise as well, and believes that the Ocean State offers some elite-level competitors as well.

“We’ve had (locals) win grands here in this tournament. They’re as talented as anyone coming in, many of them travel the country and compete in national tournaments as well. Naturally, it’s a tough competition. One thing that I like about this tournament is the fact that there is no local favoritism … if someone from another country comes in and is better, then they are chosen. That’s one thing that we pride ourselves on … last year a guy from Michigan came in here and beat a guy from Hungary for the fighting grand championship,” said Rodrigues.

The Don Rodrigues Academy will be putting on a demonstration for the Rhode Island School for the Deaf on Friday morning, then will begin competing in the afternoon sessions of the tournament. Friday and Saturday will feature black belt competition, while Sunday will be for under black belts.

Rodrigues and company hope to put on a show, and to continue to deliver one of the top karate tournaments in the country,

“It’s 39 years of doing it. People want to win this tournament, it’s been around for a long time and at this point it’s one of the oldest tournaments in North America,” said Rodrigues. “A lot of people come here because it’s a competitive tournament.”

For more information, feel free to reach the Don Rodrigues Karate Academy atn401-737-2809 or email at drka111@aol.com. The event will be open to the public.

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