The winds of change will begin to blow in this year, as many international combat sports federations officially start a new Olympic cycle. Some nations are rebuilding, some are trying to maintain supremacy, but all of them are trying to take the next step. Here’s a look at five major events in combat sports that will have a big impact on the outcome of 2013:
Judo – Paris Grand Slam February 9th-10th – Paris, France
The Paris Grand Slam is the first major event of the year after over a month off in International judo competition. Last year’s Paris GS was a bar-setter for the rest of the year, with many of the world’s biggest names coming out and putting on solid performances. American Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison will likely be back again after taking home a silver at the 2012 edition of the GS, as she gears back up for another Olympic cycle. Hometown favorites Lucie Decosse and Teddy Riner will also be back in action to defend their respective number one world rankings.
With a Grand Slam to kick the year off, judokas have a chance to put some big-time points up in the international rankings, which can help get you favorable seeding at future events, like the World Championships in Rio later this summer, so look for some aggressive action at this competition. Paris is one of the IJF’s marquee events, so expect to see a slew of top talent.
Taekwondo – World Taekwondo Championships – July 15th-21st – Puebla, Mexico
The best of the best will be out for the World Taekwondo Federation’s biggest event of the year, in what will undoubtedly be a sweltering hot Mexican July. This event could be a major springboard for Mexican taekwondo. The nation as a whole is in the middle of the pack on the world TKD stage, but they have managed to produce several top five fighters like Maria Del Rosario Espinoza, Idulio Islas Gomez, and Janete Alegria Pena. Those names will surely be in action, but it will be the mid-level Mexican fighters who will have a chance to capitalize on the hometown advantage and rack up the most valuable points of the year.
Canada is a country on the rise in TKD as well, and could be poised as a nation to make a statement by this time of year. Ivett Gonda and Karine Sergerie are both still top-ten forces, and talented youngsters like Quebec’s Jade Taillon, who’s ranked eighth in the world at only 16 years old, could be in a position to really make a splash and jump up even higher in those rankings.
Karate/Various – World Games – July 26th-27th – Cali, Colombia
The World Games is the world’s largest competition of international non-Olympic sports, and it’s the showcase of five different combat events, most notably karate. While it is also one of the year’s biggest events for jiu-jitsu, aikido, sumo, and wushu, karate is extremely close to making their way onto the Olympic stage. The World Games will be a major platform for the “K Is On The Way” initiative, which is directed towards the promotion and support of karate’s Olympic bid.
Hometown favorite Andres Rendon will likely be in action at 60 kg, as will Canadians Christopher De Sousa Costa at +84 kg and Kamille Desjardins in the women’s 61 kg division.
Jiu-jitsu has also grown to become one of the world’s premier combat sports, and will likely be at the 2016 Olympic Games as an exhibition event, so this too could be an important showcase for jiu-jitsu. With no other major events scheduled for the month of July, expect to see most of the world’s best and brightest on display.
Jiu-Jitsu – Pan Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship – September 28th – New York, NY, USA
The jiu-jitsu world has a over a month’s padding on either side of the World Games, with the next major event being the No-Gi pans. It will be a high-profile platform for the sport, emanating from City College in New York City and featuring many of the world’s top talent. Expect to see defending Pan and Pro League champ Caio Terra in action defending his 2012 gold, as well as top names like Romulo Barral and Leandro Pereira do Nascimento. The next major event isn’t until almost another month later at the Miami Open, so there will be a considerable amount of build up and buzz around this event.
Various – 2nd Sport Accord World Combat Games – October 18th-21st – St. Petersburg, Russia
The World Combat Games present a whole new beast in the world of combat sports. After a successful inaugural run in Beijing back in 2010, the Games return in 2013 providing a major stage for a multitude of both Olympic and non-Olympic fighting styles. Fans will be treated to some of the world’s best in Aikido, Boxing, Fencing, Jiu-jitsu, Judo, Karate, Kendo, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Hapkido, Sambo, Savate, Sumo, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Wushu. It’s the only combat sports-specific event of its scale in the world. Russia, the 2010 champion of the Games, will play host this time and have a strong chance of repeating with top or high rankings in several events like judo, sambo, and boxing.