Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw Kung Fu Competition Team's 2000 year of competition on the NBL (National Blackbelt League) circuit ended Christmas week when the team traveled to and competed in the Super Grand World Games XI of Sport Karate.

The team had competed all year traveling up and down the West Coast winning divisions and gaining seeding and notoriety in the NBL. One of the challenges the team faced in the second half of the season was lack of funding from Recsports here at Evergreen. The team began looking for sponsorship from other channels within and outside the college.

After a long day of travel the team arrived in Savannah, Georgia, headed to the hotel that was holding the championships, and prepared to compete. Amazingly enough the championships were held in a hotel with no windows to the outside and no air circulation inside, making it that much harder on the competitors. The poor quality of the hotel and the shady management did not fit the bill for the promo that the invitations had made it pout to be; yet this was in direct contrast to the high level of competition.

The Super Grands culminate the year of the NBL circuit and is not your average tournament. Over the year competitors earn points by placing in the top eight of their respective divisions, and at the end of the year these points represent the seeding the competitor gets relative to the other competitors in their divisions. As opposed to a pyramid tournament where everyone starts at the same level and works through at the same speed, the Super Grands is a ladder tournament. The seeding establishes an order of presentation or fighting for the judges with the highest seeds going last and the lowest seeds going first. Team Evergreen held top seeds in the Pacific Northwest Conference after all the tournaments they attended in the 2000 season and these placed them higher than some of the competition. The unseeded competitors get dubbed "wild cards" and compete against each other to win a seed spot that puts them lowest on the ladder. Of the National Eagle Claw Team only Noam Reininger from Austin, Texas held a seed in any division they competed in.

After two days of registration and preparation the Team, made up of 12 members from around the country, seven from Team Evergreen, one from Austin, Texas, one from Perdue, another from the University of Wisconsin, one from Boulder, Colorado, and a school teacher from Wisconsin, along with National Coach Sifu Dana G. Daniels competed in its first two divisions team sparring and soft weapons.

Jesse Harter, Team Captain of Team Evergreen took fourth in the soft weapons forms division with a ripping staff form, followed closely by a beautiful form by Nate Sonnenberg from Purdue who after winning the wild card seed took fifth. Sonnenberg won the wild card seed for the weapons forms and was to win the next two in traditional soft and creative soft forms divisions.

The sparring started slowly for Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw. The women sparred first, and after a year of competing on the West Coast, they gained the number three seed and held onto it for a third place finish in Women's Team Sparring. The men fielded three teams; two wild cards and one seeded, Team Eagle Claw Madison, Team Dell/Fluent, and the seeded team, Team Evergreen Eagle Claw. Team evergreen came in fired up and picked up the pace with power and after a hard fought battle against some of the worlds top point fighters Team Evergreen finished 9th overall and the competition limped home for the night.

The next day the National team competed in creative soft forms, traditional soft forms, and nearly every weight class of point fighting.

The creative forms division, which featured six members of Team Evergreen and Nate Sonnenberg, competed against top Wushu competitors on the NBL circuit. The team took five of the top eight ranks in soft creative forms in the world.

Sonnenberg again took the wild card seed and eventually placed eighth in the division. Shasta Smith placed 7th in the division with his Gnok Fei form, while Jessie Smith placed 6th with Mui Fa, right behind #1 Pacific Northwest seed Loa Arnoth who placed 5th. Jesse Harter the number two seed from the Pacific Northwest displaying his skill placed 4th in the division. Demonstrating their tradition the Team took five of the top eight ranks in soft creative forms in the world.

The traditional forms field had the entirety of the Team competing. Through the wild cards Nate Sonnenberg again took the seed with an impressive display of the form Lohan. From top to bottom the Team showed the power and skill of their traditional Northern Shaolin Eagle Claw style. Jessie Smith placed 7th with her Mui Fa and Jesse Harter placed 5th with his display of Lohan.

After a relatively slow start in Team Sparring the night before, the Team came out ready to rock for point sparring the next day. Three members were disqualified for excessive contact, and everyone else laid in hits to the fighters they came up against, some of who were returning champions from previous years. The team fought with spirit, skill, and intensity earning the respect of many fighters and coaches who were taking part. Number one seed in the Pacific Northwest fighter Jessie Smith placed 5th in women's middleweight plus, and was followed closely by Jessie Lange in the same division placing 7th.

That night Grandmaster Fu Leung of the Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw system arrived and the face of the competition was to be changed the next day.

The final day of competition for the team was continuous sparring. The team came out fired up knowing that the guys and girls that got hit the day before would be gunning for them.

In the women's super flyweights Katherine McLaine from Boulder, Colorado came out and rocked, placing 7th overall. In the middleweight plus division, the schoolteacher from Wisconsin, Jessie Lange, flurried her opponents placing 7th in the division. Top seeded fighter, Evergreen's own, Jessie Smith showed her opponents why she is the number one fighter in the Pacific Northwest, but was cheated out of her third victory by poor scorekeeping. Smith finished 5th overall.

The men fighting in the lightweight to super heavyweight rings showed their martial power and skill. Nate Sonnenberg fought a well known world champion fighter, making him fight and taking him down a number of times. Sonnenberg finished 6th. Owen O'Keefe fought the eventual champion of the super heavyweight ring and except for the penalty points he accrued, beat him aggressing in and not giving ground. Sam Haskin faced the same fighter next, and after O'Keefe's punishment, punished him some more laying in numerous power punches and kicks. Haskin not only did this for one fight but got to fight him again, repeating with his power punches and kicks. Haskin placed 7th. John Eastlake, co-captain of Team Evergreen, did extremely well placing 6th overall in Heavyweight continuous sparring.

In the lightweight rings, Noam Reininger took it to his opponent in successive fights. The judges tried to cheat him out of his seeding and give him one wild card fight, but after deliberations and arguments from the National Coach he was allowed to continue correctly and was promptly disqualified twice for excessive contact. Number two seed in the Pacific Northwest in Continuous, fighter Shasta Smith fighting in the light middleweights won 42-40 in a very close fight. He went 2 and 2 in the division earning the number 10 rank. Jesse Harter seeded number one in the Pacific Northwest fought in the light heavyweights. He came up against two very different fighters but treated them the same; no one escaped the hits he laid out. Harter placed 7th in the division.

The places that the team earned represent the final overall ranking in the world of NBL Sport Karate. They will be published in the next magazine of the National Blackbelt League. The world rankings stand until the 2001 season ends.

The politics of the Super Grands have to do with each coach and referee having an agenda to make their school, their team, or their favorites win repeatedly with few being the wiser. Much like an old boys club, most all the divisions are set in the minds of the judges before they even begin. Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw was the wild card that threw a kink in their machinations. With Grandmaster Fu Leung and National Coach Sifu Dana G. Daniels working the officials, nearly all the cheating was circumnavigated in regard to the Bak Shaolin team. The unity of the Eagle Claw team was readily apparent to all those watching and competing in the tournament. Competitors that move from team to team like free agents in the NFL, NBA, and MLB offered their "medal winning" services and wanted to be part of what they saw as a kick ass team.

Throughout the competition, during and after, coaches and competitors came to pay respect to the coaches and competitors of the Eagle Claw team. They continually commented on the indomitable spirit and warrior like attitudes of the competitors. They claimed the team would reach the top in two to three years of competing at the Sport Karate game.

Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw united from around the country and came out strong, earning the respect of those around them. The ranks achieved are a great success for the first year of competing in sport karate against their top competitors.

We thank all those that helped us get there; Arlene Mcmahon, the S&A Board, Evergreen President Les Purce, Vice President of Student Affairs Art Constantino, the Alumni Board, Fluent Communications, and the parents and friends that made it possible for the team to achieve this great success. The team also thanks Grandmaster Fu Leung and National Coach Sifu Dana G. Daniels for their teaching and training.


World Rankings
National Blackbelt League Post-Supergrands 2000

Jesse Harter
Soft Weapons Forms 4th
Soft Traditional Forms 5th
Soft Creative/Musical Forms 4th
Point Sparring Light-Heavyweight (184.8-) 8th
Continuous Sparring Light-Heavyweight (184.8-) 7th (#1 Northwest Region)
Loa Arnoth
Soft Traditional Forms
Soft Creative/Musical Forms 5th (#1 Northwest Region)
Point Sparring Featherweight (132-) (#1 Northwest Reigon)
Continuous Sparring Featherweight (132-) (#1 Northwest Reigon)
Team Fighting 3rd
Jessie Smith
Soft Traditional Forms 7th
Soft Creative/Musical Forms 6th
Point Sparring Middleweight (143.1+) 5th (#1 Northwest Reigon)
Continuous Sparring Lightweight (132+) 5th
Women's Team Fighting 3rd
Sam Haskin
Continuous Sparring Super-Heavyweight (200.2+) 7th
Shasta Smith
Soft Creative/Musical Forms 7th
Continuous Sparring Light-Middle weight (162.9-) 10th
Team Fighting 9th
Kathrine McLaine
Women's Team Fighting 3rd
John Eastlake
Continuous Sparring Heavyweight (200.2-) 6th
Own O'Keefe
Continuous Sparring Super-Heavyweight (200.3+) 9th
Team Fighting 9th
Noam Reininger
Continuous Sparring Featherweight (136.6-) (#1 Northwest Reigon)