Via Potentia ~ Modern Self Defense Training

Our next free seminar on self defense and physical conditioning is Friday, June 30 from 6 - 9 PM. Call or email to confirm availability and save a space.

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Annual Tournament

We host a small, annual invitational tournament each year. The purpose of the tournament is to develop friendship between schools, public demonstration, and to challenge each other to improve.

Viewers are $5, or $10 for a family. Tournament entry is $30 per person and covers all events.

Please be aware that we have very limited bathroom facilities and it is not handicap-equipped.

The events are:

General divisions are beginner, intermediate, advanced, and black belt. Some events are also divided by age, weight class or gender.

First, second and third place are awarded in each division, as well as overall. One must participate in every event to be ranked overall.

Please contact us if you or your school would like to participate in the tournament. Unauthorized drop-ins may watch, but will generally not be allowed to participate.

The next tournament is scheduled for July 31.

Tournament Rules (rough draft)


The goals for our tournament events include:

This is to be accomplished within the context of care and respect for each other. We want to push ourselves and each other to be better while avoiding unnecessary injury (but also recognizing that some injuries are always going to happen in events of this nature).

Most tournaments are engaged in as a money making enterprise by the host organization, event entry and spectator fees are high, and awards are selected to encourage as much participation as possible, irrespective of the attitude or abilities of the participants. Via Potentia tournaments, on the other hand, have very low entry fees, modest awards (usually just ribbons), and we only want participants who are going to compete in good sportsmanship, humility and with respect for each other.

The tournament is administered by a host, his delegated event administrators, and particular referees. The host and event administrators operate the tournament. The referees regulate individual events and matches. Their instructions are to be followed at all times. They may stop matches at any time, warn, penalize, disqualify and expel participants if they believe it is necessary for the safety of others or the integrity of the tournament as a whole.

Judges are responsible for determining the winners of the event, in keeping with the criteria for that particular event. Whenever possible, odd numbers of judges are selected and each judge is compelled to select a winner. The judges from particular events should be from as many different styles/schools as possible. Judges are generally black belt or above, or have an equivalent level of competency and maturity.

When scoring, judges do not confer with each other or compare scores until all scoring is complete, so as to avoid influencing each other.

At least three participants are needed for each event. If more than ten are in a particular event, then it should be broken into subdivisions according to the next most relevant variable. For example, pankration sparring has divisions of gender/weight/skill. If there were only four participants total, a mix of men and women, it would be recommended to them to all compete together. But if there were 20+ entries, the might be divided by gender, then into weight classes, etc.

Common divisions are ability, weight, gender and age.

Ability: A beginner is someone who has skills expected from someone with a year or less experience in a particular event. Intermediate has skills expected from someone with 2-3 years of experience. Advanced has semi-amateur league competitor skills. The ability division allows less skilled people to compete with others in their same "league" and receive related placement/awards.

Weight/size: This is an important division when it comes to contact events like pankration sparring and submission grappling. Competitors should generally be within 10% of each other in clean weight (or closer). Common sporting weight divisions are acceptable.

Gender: Gender is a suitable division for contact sparring and grappling, especially for adults, as there are natural and substantial differences in strength between men and women of similar weight.

Age: Age is also a consideration is some divisions, as our abilities and responses naturally decline with the years. Placing a 190 pound 20 year old against a 190 pound 70 year old may be unfair to the 50 year old, all other things being equal, as the 20 year old will have substantial natural advantages in at least speed and endurance.

Martial arts instructors may participate as competitors, but generally do so on an exhibition basis. That is, their placing is disregarded when it comes to selecting actual tournament placement (unless there is a division specifically for instructors/masters).

Adult sparring/grappling events are generally a modified double-elimination structure. Children's and other events are single elimination or just a straight point score.

Competitors who fail to appear for their event within three minutes of being called are disqualified from the event unless they were participating in another event at the time as a competitor, judge, official coach, or related official capacity.

In the event of an injury, the injured party will be allowed sufficient time -- up to five minutes -- to re-enter the competition. If he cannot continue, then the victor of the match is determined by the judges' score of the match up to the moment of the injury. However, if the injury was caused by an illegal technique or negligence, then the competitor who caused the injury is disqualified from further competition and ineligible for any placing or awards.

Coaches: Participants in sparring may have one assistant and one coach in his corner. They may not set foot in the ring or talk to the ref or judges during the action. The coach my talk to the competitor during the action, including giving him directions. The directions must be in English.

Board Breaking

Possible Division: Ability, weight

Officials: Event administrator and three or more judges

All boards are provided by the host organization, and are typically 12" x 8" x 1" (nominal) pine boards. 2" concrete pavers may also be available.

When called, the competitor announces himself and his technique, sets up the break -- he may ask for assistants to hold his boards -- and proceeds with the break. He may make two attempts. No one who fails to break on his first attempt may surpass someone who achieved the break on his first attempt. The break must be completed by the second attempt to receive placing.

Fisted punches and other techniques that are likely to result in bone damage are strongly discouraged for children.

Competitors may not use assisting equipment other than what is commonly available to all participants. Competitors may not have excessive reinforcing tape, gloves or other padding that gives them an unanticipated advantage over others. Judges may require competitors to remove excessive tape and such or discount the score based on its presence.

Competitors may perform multiple techniques so long as they are all completed within two seconds.

The primary consideration is the difficulty of the break, taking into account the particular technique(s) and the number of boards being broken in a single blow. Because board breaking is easier for larger people, judges should take into account the competitor's weight when comparing scores. As a general rule, the person should add a board for each 100 pounds in weight. For example, if a 90 pound person broke a single board with a palm strike, and a 150 pound person broke two boards with the same technique, they should receive equivalent scores (all other things being equal).

At the end of each division, judges individually rank participants from highest to lowest, with the top person getting "1," the next person getting "2," etc. They then deliver their rankings to the event administrator, who sums their scores. The lowest score gets first place, the next gets second, and so on. In the event of a tie, the tied competitors do an additional break to determine placing.


Divisions: Weapons or empty hand, ability

Officials: Event administrator and three or more judges

When called, the competitor approaches the judges, announces himself and his form, and begins the form. He has two minutes to complete the form. He may start over once. No one who restarts a form may place above someone who completed the form on his first attempt.

Judges should evaluate the competitors one their poise, the complexity and difficulty of their techniques, appearance, etc. Insofar as they are familiar with the competitor's particular style, the competitor's representation of that style should be considered. The administration of scoring and placing is then identical to that used for board breaking.

No- and Light- Contact Point Sparring

Divisions: Ability, size/weight, age

Equipment: Mouth guard, cup for men. Additional safety gear is allowed but optional.

Three judges keep score using hand counters as the match proceeds, awarding a single point that they believe would have been effective had it been followed through with full force -- that is, it did not appear that the defender had a defense up that would have worked. Any technique is allowed. Light contact may be made with the upper body and thighs. There should be little or no contact with any other part of the body. No contact may be made to the groin or neck.

Judges may award additional points for effective but more difficult techniques like jumping or high kicks.

At the end of the round(s), the each judge votes for a winner of the match.

Pankration/MMA-style Sparring

Divisions: Weight, ability, age

This is a medium-contact competition that includes striking, take downs, grappling and limited submissions. The goal is to demonstrate your overall sport-fighting skills, but without causing an injury to your opponent. (Injuries do happen in contact sports, but injuries caused by illegal technique, lack or control or negligence may result in penalties.) A submission or knockout ends the round.

Safety Equipment: Mouth guard, groin cup (men), shin and instep guards (century silver quality or better), sparring gloves. Beginners, children and youth should also wear head and chest gear that includes both chin and collarbone protection. Hands, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles may be taped (or equivalent) for protection but not excessively or in a way that gives an advantage. Lubrication is allowed to the face only.

Gloves: The gloves must be sparring-type gloves, which have additional padding on the knuckles and the back of the fist. Gloves with individual finger articulation are permitted, so long as there is sufficient padding (subject to the ref's discretion). Competitive match and other types of gloves are not permitted.

Uniforms: Participants may wear the uniform of their choosing so long as proper decorum is followed. The uniform must be clean, intact and not have any pockets or other accessories that might result in injury. T-shirts and shorts, rashguards and fight shorts, or complete traditional martial arts uniforms are acceptable. If a martial arts uniform is worn, it may be grabbed, but may not be used to complete a submission.

Allowed techniques: Fisted punches, hammer fist, palm strikes, knife hand, elbows, knees, kicks, stomps, grabs, single and double leg take downs, fireman carry takedowns (from one knee), shoulder and hip throws, trips and leg reaps, front kick, side kick, roundhouse kick, axe and stomping kicks. These techniques may make contact with allowed targets. Other techniques and targets are allowed, but may not make purposeful contact.

Allowed targets: Intentional, forceful contact may be made to the front and sides of head, front and sides of torso above the navel, sides of thighs and top of feet. Intentional striking is not allowed to any other surface of the body.

Disallowed techniques: Basically anything that would be considered "unsportsmanlike" or intended or likely to cause an injury. For example, no slamming (except to escape a submission attempt); no spiking the head or shoulder, or take downs that torque the knee; no contacting hits of any kind to the lower abdomen, groin, spine, neck or back of head; no open hand grabs of the neck, groin, nose, ears, hair, individual toes or fingers; no excessive force to the face; no stomping, kicking, kneeing a down opponent (one knee on floor); no elbows or knees to the head; no gouging, pinching, clawing, fish-hooking, etc.

Submissions: Submission may only be attempted from a stable position and applied in a controlled manner. Beginners may perform sleepers, arm bars, shoulder cranks and ankle locks (Achilles compression). Intermediate may add wrist attacks, hip/splits attacks, elbow compressions and toe holds. Advanced may add knee bars, bicep cutters and heel hooks. No neck cranks or spine attacks. The "can opener" is allowed to escape from a submission, but may not be used for a submission, itself. No uniform-based attacks (e.g., no "gi-chokes").

The referee may stop a match in recognition of an applied submission even if the submitted person has not tapped. This is for the safety of the participants.

Judging is a on a 10-point must system per judge. Competitors should be evaluated on their general domination of the round and effectiveness of their techniques. Ties will go into additional rounds until a winner is determined.

Rounds: Beginners fight a single, two-minute round. Intermediate have two rounds. Advanced get three rounds.

A submission or knockout ends the round. The match may continue if there are additional rounds and both participants are able to continue. At the advanced level the match is ended once a person has won two rounds.

If the competitors go out of bounds, they will be reset in the center of the ring in approximately the same relative position. Purposefully going out of bounds to escape a submission or the like may result in a warning, penalty or disqualification.

Submission Grappling

Divisions: Weight, ability, age

Safety equipment: Mouthguard, groin cup (men), optional ear protection.

Uniform: Same as for pankration.

General rules, scoring and techniques are the same as pankration, but no striking. Beginners start from and must keep one knee on the ground or be supported by the opponent at all times -- no standing during the match except to escape from a position or submission.

Weapons (stick) fighting

Divisions: Weight, ability, age

Safety equipment: If using hard sticks, WEKAF-or-better headgear, stick-fighting handgear, mouthguard, cup (men). Beginners should also wear WEKAF-or-better armor. With soft sticks a moutguard, cup (men) and eye protection are recommended.


Techniques: All pankration techniques are allowed (if the proper gear is worn), plus swinging stick strikes to any part of the body except the neck, spine, groin, knee or elbow. Thrusting and butt strikes are not permitted with a hard stick.

Rounds, scoring and judging in keeping with the pankration-style event.

We welcome comments, questions and suggestions for improvement.
Via Potentia, 805 NW Alder St., McMinnville OR 97128
Telephone: 503-437-3450

Copyright Via Potentia. All Rights Reserved. Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program; consult a lawyer before making a legal decision. All information provided on this web site or otherwise by Via Potentia is provided for educational/informative purposes only, is subject to correction, and should not be considered legal, medical or other professional advice. Use at your own risk.

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