The first major tournament in 2015 for the Karate Union of Great Britain’s (KUGB) International Squads of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales was held at the Queens Park Sports Centre, Chesterfield last Saturday.
Photo: Senior Male Kumite Semi-Finals - KUGB England Team members fight for a place in the Final. Ryan Tucker (Left) defends himself from an ura-mawashi geri from Joe Rawcliffe (right).
The Grand Slam is a major event in the KUGB calendar and has grown significantly in size and importance over the years. This year the number of competitors has increased and as a result the decision was taken to start the event earlier in the day.
Within the England Squad there were five members from Chelmsford SKC all keen to perform to their best in the hope of being selected for this year’s European Championships in Switzerland. They were Emma Burke, Eric Austin-Coskry, Jack Hillsden, Jamie Lottering and Teah Pope. In addition, was Jack Somers, from Ipswich Higashi, who has regularly trained at Chelmsford over the past decade.
Photo: Chelmsford's England Squad Members - Back row (L-R) Eric Austin-Coskry, Jack Hillsden. Front Row (L-R) Jack Somers (Ipswich Higashi), Teah Pope, Emma Burke and Jamie Lottering
The six are part of a strong KUGB England Squad that had an outstanding year in 2014 on the International Arena where a large number of competitors reached Finals with many winning medals including Gold at the European (ESKA) Championships in Zurich – including Jack Somers.
The Grand Slam is a unique experience as prior to the Competition all of the National Teams competing arrive early to undergo a Squad Session with their respective National Coaches. For KUGB England, the Coaches are Sensei Andy Sherry (9th Dan) and Sensei Frank Brennan (7th Dan). This as usual is a tough session, as although there is a Grand Slam in a few hours time the Coaches are using this event as part of their preparations for the European and World Championships later this year.
Photo: Squad Training - (L-R) Emma Burke in background watches Teah Pope and Eric Austin- Coskry get their instructions from Sensei Sherry
Photo: Squad Training - Jack Hillsden performing Heian Godan
Photo: Squad Training - Emma Burke watches Sensei Sherry and Sensei Brennan perform the drill required for Kumite Training
Photo: Squad Training - (L-R) Jamie Lottering spars with is partner and Eric Austin-Coskry with his during the England Squad Session
Once the Squad Sessions were completed there was a brief interlude as the Spectators began to arrive. In addition, Wayne Lottering, who qualified as a National Judge last year joined the Referee and Judges Team. For Wayne this was a tremendous learning curve as he joined both experienced KUGB National Referees a significant number of International Referees.
Photo: Grand Slam Referees and Judges - Back row left Wayne Lottering
In the Grand Slam event everyone performed well and although many did not reach the finals their performances demonstrated the right martial attitude required to be an England Squad member. The standard of this competition is ‘top class’ with many of the current World and European Champions involved in the Finals. Jack Somers reached the Senior Male Kata Final and won for the first time. KUGB England continued to dominate and there were some outstanding performances that enthralled the watching crowd.
Photo: Kumite Match - (L-R) Eric Austin- Coskry sparring with Fraser Grice
Photo: Kata Match - Jamie Lottering Kiai's whilst performing Kata Heian Nidan
Both, Sensei Jane Naylor-Jones and Sensei Richard Naylor-Jones from Chelmsford SKC attended and were extremely proud of each of them. Sensei Jane said “I am very pleased with everyone’s performances today. The England Coaches have spoken with each of them following the Championship and given them areas to work on to improve and develop. All six will be looking to build on their experiences over the next few months as they look to enter the KUGB’s National Championship in May”.