Four Seasons Nationals 1973

Howard Jackson Darnell Garcia (left) and Howard Jackson battle for Grand Championship


AMERICA’S TOP PROFESSIONAL fighting stars, after a weekend of fighting the game tables at the luxurious Flamingo Hotel, met head-on at the Las Vegas Convention Center to determine the result of one of America’s most prestigeous professional tournaments, the Four Seasons Nationals. The Four Seasons Nationals is actually a professional tournament of champions. It seats the four regional Four Seasons Champions and the four division champions of the TOP 10 NATIONALS in St. Louis against each other plus the eight Black Belt winners from the elimination tournament held earlier that day. This leads to an action-packed 16 man Grand Championship finale. The Four Seasons tournaments are sponsored by one of America’s top professional promoters, Mike Stone. Stone’s Four Seasons tournaments are currently being held on a region level all over the country and will be climaxed every year by this big, national event. The regional directors for the Four Seasons tournaments are Cleveland’s Al Gene Caraulia in the North, Virginia’s Jerry Piddington in the East, Colorado’s Jim Harkins and Al Dacascos in the Rocky Mountain Region, and Mike Stone himself on the West Coast. Each region has four tournaments every year, one during each season. The annual regional champion is deter-mined by the player winning the most regional events. The Rocky Mountain regional champion was St. Louis’ Fred Wren, the East Coast Champ was Indiana’s Parker Shelton, the West Coast’s Numero Uno was California’s Steve Fischer, and the North’s top champion was Detroit’s “Monster Man” Everett Eddy. The four TOP 10 NATIONAL division champions to be seated automatically into the quarter finals were Lightweight and National Grand Champion Howard Jackson of California, Middleweight Champion Steve Kijewski of Chicago, Light-heavyweight Champion Jeff Smith of Washington, D.C., and Heavyweight Champion Johnny Lee of Detroit. These eight champions plus eight of the eliminations’ top winners composed a formidable Grand Championship play-off. The outcome was to be determined by single eliminations. Contact with the new SAFE-T-KICK, SAFE-T-PUNCH equipment and the new professional Karate rules were used. The winner would receive $500 with $250 going to second place, and $100 going to the third and fourth place winners.

With California’s Pat Johnson as chief official, round one began with one rough and rugged, hard-fought, exciting battle after another. Matches that deserve mentioning from round one were Everett Eddy’s close 3-2 victory over nationally rated John Natividad. The “Monster Man” went on his usual offensive, jumped out to a quick lead and held it throughout the match. Chicago’s new sensation, Steve Kijewski, beat D.C.’s Pat Worley for the third time in a row 3-1. Kijewski has been a blotch on Worley’s great victory record for the past two years. The first big upset of the evening occurred when Cleveland’s John Bell zapped D.C.’s Jeff Smith 5-3. Bell kept dodging Smith’s thundering heel kicks and countering with perfectly timed defensive reverse punches to accumulate 5 solid points. California’s Steve Fischer and Virginia’s Keith Haflich provided the near sell-out crowd with an action packed nip-and-tuck battle with Fischer getting the nod in overtime 5-4. California’s Donnie Williams and Howard Jackson had the crowd on its feet in a match loaded with sensationalism through a display of an array of techniques. Neither player executed the same technique twice. Jackson finally was the victor 6-4. After round one, a demonstration of free sparring, self-defense, and kata was performed by ten year old Black Belt Stuart Farber. To the crowd’s delight, little Stuart, a Chuck Norris student, proved his prowess as a real Black Belt by fearlessly demonstrating the advanced form Bassai. Stuart seemed undaunted by being alone in the spotlight through most of his performance and came through like a real “Future Pro”. Achievement awards were presented by Mike Stone to all his Four Seasons promoters with special awards being presented to tournament founders Chuck Norris and Bob Wall for their work and dedication toward making the Four Seasons a national success.

Grand Championship

The second round began with Everett Eddy battling Steve Kijewski to a 3-3 tie until the final seconds of the match. Then, with only seconds remaining, the “Monster Man” blew his hid for the title by dropping Kijewski with an uncontrolled punch. This gave Kijewski the point and, eventually, the match. Fred Wren, after a 5-1 victory over Stuart Rowe. seemed to breath easy as Jeff Smith, who would have been his next match, had already been eliminated by John Bell. Wren looked confident as he faced Bell as a victory here would place him in the semifinals against Steve Kijewski. Bell had other plans as he ‘defeated Wren 4-1, scoring all of his points with defensive reverse punches. Bell had now eliminated two of the tournaments top names in rapid succession and made his mark as a new national star who is definitely on the ‘wy to the top. Los Angeles’ Darnell Garcia battled Indiana’s Parker Shelton to a 2-2 tie in the next match. In overtime, Garcia lashed out with a roundhouse kick to Shelton’s head to win the bout. This was Shelton’s debut on the pro circuit. He is one of America’s all-time top tournament winners, but has been unable to make any of the pro tournaments lately due to prior commitments. The professional circuit, however, will be seeing a lot of him in the near future. The final match in the quarter-final round was one of the evenings most exciting. Steve Fischer fought Howard Jackson in a nip and tuck battle that ended in a 3-2 Jackson victory. The sportsmanship displayed by these two champions was a credit to the sport of Karate and really added to the luster of the tournament. After the completion of round two, New York’s Hidy Ochiai made his West Coast debut. He demonstrated breathing katas and the art of muscle control by doing physical feats that would be next to impossible to duplicate. He climaxed his exhibition with his usual demo of lying bareback on a bed of nails, placing ten inches of concrete on his stomach, then having someone smash the slab with a 12-pound sledge hammer. It is rumored that Mr. Ochiai will be demonstrating at the coming World Championships to be held in Los Angeles. During this demonstration, he is going to prove his strength through proper breathing by letting a truck run over his stomach.

In the first round of the semi-finals, Garcia jumped into the lead by scoring with a roundhouse to the groin. Kijewski then tied it up with a roundhouse of his own that caught Garcia in the head. Garcia then scored with a reverse punch making it 2-1; but Kijewski immediately jumped back with another reverse punch to tie it up 2-2. The match seemed to be like a game of “Follow the Leader” as Garcia scored with a defensive reverse punch only to have Kijewski tie it up 3-3 with exactly the same technique as time ran out. In overtime, Kijewski accidentally stepped out of bounds, which, according to the new professional rules, costs the violater a penalty point. This made the score 4-3 in favor of Garcia, but, in professional Karate matches, a player cannot win on a penalty point. This meant that Kinewski would have to score two points to win while Garcia would only have to score one. Darnell Garcia got the nod as he nailed his adversary with a solid roundhouse to win the match 5-3.

The second semi-final bout pitted Cleveland’s John Bell against California’s Howard Jackson, the most consistent winner in Karate today. Bell had already defeated the very two men that Howard Jackson has been unable to defeat Wren and Smith. Jackson started strong in his usual fashion and jumped out quickly to a 2-0 lead with offensive reverse punches. Bell then scored with a reverse punch of his own, but Jackson kept his lead padded with a combination punch. The match then turned into an action-packed battle of solid contact punches that did little physical harm since Safe-T-Punch was being used. After the smoke had cleared, Howard Jackson, the “California Flash,” earned a hard-fought 6-3 victory. Steve Kijewski then met John Bell to determine third place. Bell, completely exhausted from the Jackson bout, seemed to sputter and lost to Kijewski 5-2.

Before the match for the Grand Championship began, Bob Wall, a close friend of the late Bruce Lee, dedicated the Grand Championship match to Mr. Lee in memory of his great contributions to the Martial Arts. A eulogy was given by Mr. Jhoon Rhee, another close friend of Bruce Lee, who then led the audience in a moment of silent prayer. The news of Bruce Lee’s death had visably shaken Mr. Rhee and the many friends he had who were present at this event.

In the first round of the Grand Championship eliminations, Jackson surged into the lead with a heel kick to the head. Garcia then tied it with a lunge punch to end the round with the score 1-1. In round two, Jackson took over the lead again with a reverse punch then padded his lead 3-1 with another heel kick to the head. Garcia then came from behind with a dynamic takedown-punch followed by a perfectly timed defensive reverse punch to even it up 3-3. Jackson then blitzed Garcia and scored again making it 4-3 after an action-packed second round. At the beginning of the third and final round, Garcia winded his opponent with a defensive side kick to tie it up 4-4. Garcia then surged into the lead with a sweep-punch combination and scored again with a reverse punch making it 6-4. Jackson tried frantically to score before time ran out and hit Garcia with a lunge punch. This made it 6-5 Garcia as time ran out.

Professional Karate
This is a reproduction of the summer 1973 edition of Professional Karate Magazine.