On Sunday the 25th of November those selected from our Squad assembled at 6.30 am to board the mini-bus for our road-trip to Uxbridge. When the coaches were competing we built a friendly rivalry with the SKC team and were proud to receive an invitation to attend their tournament for the first time this year.
The five of us hail from Portsmouth and the surrounding area, so competing at the University of Brunel (an institute named after the Celebrated Engineer who was born in Britain street Portsmouth) offered an additional sense of pressure and expectancy. Our squad for the day consisted of ten of our members picked for their consistent effort and enthusiasm demonstrated at Squad Training. It was great to have a mix of Youth, seniors and Veterans - both Male and Female. Some competing for the AKA for the very first time.
The day began with the Veterans section and we were immediately amongst the medals with our Ladies demonstrating that their extra training and increased mat time has been very worthwhile. Amber Harrod won the Kata event with a solid Jitte and (much to her surprise) the now infamous Jess ‘The’ Cheong stepped up and proudly secured a third place. The ladies then consolidated this with a great display in Kumite. After a few battles in the elimination rounds Amber lost a hard battle with our friend from the Bognor Dojo Marcela but had an awesome bruised face for a trophy. Nicky Porter was moving very well and demonstrated a new found maturity with her timing and balance on the mat. Nicky secured 4th place and the best black eye we have seen for a number of years. Jess was the star of the day and improved on her recent success to win the Veteran Ladies Kumite as a 3rd Kyu Brown belt. Again Jess was moving well and her timing was fantastic. Jess defeated much more senior and experienced opponents and her only war wound was a fat lip.
Next up was our very own Ginger-Ninja Victoria Street from the South Downs Dojo. Victoria has a great attitude to training but has missed out on previous trips due to injury or family commitments. It was great to finally be able to present her with the squad jacket from the association and then see her in action. In the 14-15 year kumite Victoria showed composure and a great attacking attitude to secure second place and earn herself an awkward hug from Sensei Matt Smith.
Regan Evans also known as Reginald to her friends battled away as normal and was unlucky to not place higher than 3rd place in the 16-17 year old kumite. Our young ladies Seren and Boo then dominated the 18 + Shodan Kumite with Bethany beating best-friend Seren in the final. These girls are great all-rounders and Bethany placed third and Seren second in the 18+ Shodan Kata event.
In the Brown Belt Events the reflection from the perfect dome of Will Newmans head added to the splendour and he secured a third place in the Brown belt to Shodan Kata. Robin Thompson marked his squad debut with a deserved win looking sharp and focused particularly in the kata final. Despite a couple of instinctive right hooks Will avoided disqualification and was sharp in kumite but didn’t quite podium. Robin however fresh from his kata success stepped up and displayed effective movement and a tasty Chudan Mawashi, ultimately finishing in third place.
Finally in the Nidan and above events Mike Smallpage was performing well in both kata and kumite. He demonstrated excellent timing and speed and progressed to the kumite final. Sadly he received a broken nose in the Semi-Final meaning he could not fight on but he looked an awesome sight with a blood stained beard!
Sensei Chris Carr is a great Ambassador for us and carried himself impeccably as always working tirelessly in his refereeing role. We proudly presented him with the gift of his AKA coaching jacket and enjoyed our brief catch up and obligatory squad photograph.
Finally we waved goodbye to Brunel and headed back to his birthplace around 8pm, proud that we had represented our association and the city with great-spirit and humility. Isambard was famed for his Innovation and ferocious dedication to his work. Running a successful karate Association presents many challenges and is undoubtedly hard work, but if we can continue to mirror such dedication and focus our efforts to produce students and competitors who perform as they did in Uxbridge then we will go some way to create our own positive Legacy.
Now we focus on our Christmas competition!