On Saturday the 4th May members and supporters of Chelmsford Shotokan Karate Club took a road trip, and for some a train trip, to Birmingham to enter the KUGB National Championships at the National Indoor Arena.
This prestigious event has been running since 1966 and it is in its 47th year, for some of our students this was their first and for others (Sensei Dot) it was their 47th! As you can imagine on arrival there was a mixture of emotions - nerves, excitement (and 'motions' so I am told).
We had a total of 20 students competing, two referees ( the two Richard's), a coach/presenter (aka Sensei Jane) and a large band of family and friends to cheer them on.
The day started at 10 am with all 12 areas hosting either kata or kumite events with different categories based on gender, age and height. Initially the individual events took place with all our students performing to a high standard and representing Chelmsford admirably. Jack Hillsden gained bronze in the Junior Men's Kumite 16-17, plus Teah Pope and Mia Hillsden qualified for the Children's Black belt kata final. In addition, Cristina Finta (who trains with us each week but is a member of Manchester University) qualified in both the Ladies Kate and Kumite final.
Once the Individual events were complete, the Team events began. For the Children's Team Kata event we had no less than 5 teams entered. All of the teams performed to a high standard with Chelmsford 'A', last years champions, successfully qualifying as one of the four teams to be in the final. With another Chelmsford team narrowly missing out as the fifth placed team.
Then it was the turn of the Adult Team Kata and although we entered just one team, who gained the highest point total to qualify.
So, to the Finals, Sensei Jane as the 'KUGB presenter' opened the event with Sensei Sherry and his Senior team of Senseis O'Neill, Poynton, Higgins, Rhodes and Brennan all taking a bow. Sensei Sherry then made a Special Presentation awarding Sensei Terry O'Neill and Sensei Bob Poynton their 8th Dan. He then went onto present certificates to Long Standing Members of the KUGB who had 25, 30, 35 and 40 years service. The Chelmsford supporters all stood to cheer Sensei Richard Kheder when he received his 30 year award from Sensei Sherry. There was also a whoop from the crowd but the culprit has yet to be identified.... Well done Richard, many more years to come.
â€‹ â€‹Photo: Sensei Andy Sherry presents Richard Kheder with his KUGB 30 Year Long Standing Member Award
Then onto the final. In the Children's Blackbelt Kata the standard was very high with Mia Hillsden being placed 2nd with an excellent performance of Kata Gojushihosho and Teah Pope came 4th performing a strong Sochin. In the Children's Team Kata the team of Aya Rainer, Mia Hillsden and Teah Pope came together to produce a well timed Gojushihosho to come third.
â€‹ â€‹ â€‹
â€‹ Photo: Girl's Individual Kata: Mia Hillsden (far left) and Teah Pope(far right)
In the Junior Men's Kumite 16-17, Jack Hillsden had competed earlier in the day and had fought strong and shown excellent timing to gain a bronze medal.
â€‹ â€‹ â€‹
â€‹ Photo: Junior Male Individual Kumite (16-17) - Joint 3rd Jack Hillsden (Second from right)
In the Ladies events Cristina Finta fought strong to gain a bronze in the Individual Kumite event, silver in the Individual Kata with an excellent Gojushihosho (losing to Holly Sterling) and silver in the Ladies Team Kumite for Manchester. Cristina was very unlucky to get injured during this match and hopefully this did not mar what was an outstanding achievement by getting through to all three events.
In the Adult Team Kata Chelmsford's team consisted of Jack Hillsden, Eric Austin-Coskry and Sharky Austin-Coskry all of whom had been National Children Team Kata winners in the past. In fact, when the Children's Team Kata event was announced a fellow competitor had assumed this was our Children's Team until corrected. The extra drama to add to this was the fact Eric had been injured whilst competing in the Kumite event earlier that day and was still suffering the after affects. The Chelsmford team performed a sharp strong performance of the kata Kanku Sho. There was an issue with a mistake by Sharky that was quickly corrected during the kata and so the judges agreed to reduce their marks by point 1. Despite this Chelmsford's kata was so strong their points tally still beat the other 3 teams and they won Gold and the title of ADULT National Team Kata Champions.
â€‹ â€‹ â€‹
Photo: Chelmsford's Adult Team Kata KUGB National Champions 2013. Trophy presented by Sensei Gary Harford (Podium 1 Left to right) Jack Hillsden, Eric Austin-â€‹Coskry and Sharky Austin-Coskry
At the end of the day our competitors and their loyal supporters all faced a journey back to Chelmsford. It was a successful day with many talking points, not only about our performances and how we can improve but also about the high standard of Karateka that had been on display. For me, and many others, this included the exciting Men's team Kumite final that could not be decided after the three matches and only was decided after three additional extensions, Sensei John Bruce's self defence demonstration and of course Holly Sterling's jodan mawashigeri where she was awarded an Ippon to win the Ladies Kumite.
A special well done to everyone from Chelmsford both competitors and our supporters. All eyes now turn to the Southern Region Championship on the 15th June......
The full KUGB National Championship results and pictures can be found on the KUGB website.