At the end of April we took 29 competitors, 6 officials, judges or referees and 6 coaches and 2 helpers/score keepers to the British Open in London Docklands. The British Open is one of the largest competitions in the calendar with a high standard of competitors and many world level Referees officiating. This years event was no different and there were about 600 competitors and 6 Tatamis in use all day..
We had many new comers to our competition squad taking part in their first competition, so it was fair to say that there lots of nerves involved from both them and also from their parents. They had all worked hard to be ready for the competition.
We started with the kata events and these were keenly contested in all age groups. The events started with the youngest age categories and proceeded from there. We saw some polished performances in all the categories and some some good competitors that we need to match up to.
Congratulations to Mandi Miles who won a Silver and Mandi and Gavin Downey who won a Bronze Medal in Kata.
The Kumite events were also busy categories. We saw some great work from the squad, Sophie, Ruby and Orla won our first medal in the Girls <8 Team Kumite. Solomon had a good day winning Silver in his individual event, he was withdrawn on medical advice part way through the final bout. He also won a Bronze in the Team event with Jack, Zane and Enzo. Other medals were won by Emma, Leyna and Claudia.
Congratulations Team Shin Gi Tai for a large proportion of the team this was their first time competing and they did themselves proud. In all it was a really positive competition. Nice to see international teams attending from Poland, Egypt, Slovakia, Algeria, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and several top association teams from England.
Congratulations to our new Black Belts who after many years of practice achieved their goal.
Traditionally December is our biggest grading of the year and the one that prompts the most nerves as it is also the time for our annual Black Belt gradings.
During the course of December we ran three Judo gradings (one at the club and two in schools that we run after school clubs at,) four Little Dragon gradings, three Young Legend Gradings, 2 Urban Warrior and 1 Adult grading plus a Brown and Black belt grading.
The gradings themselves are run slightly differently dependant upon the age groups of the taking part, but each one is designed to be challenging for it’s participants.
Ted was very happy to get his Green belt. He’s catching his older brother up.
Our Week of Gradings started on the Monday with The Little Dragons are our 4 – 6 years old and in their gradings which are carried out in class, they are tested on their ability to listen, sit and stand still, meditate and focus along with physical skills such as breakfalling, kicking and punching with control and performing a hold down and a throw onto the crash mats.
Their gradings are time based, which means that they have to attend so many classes in order to pass their next belt.
Congratulations Enzo, on 10th Mon, Green Belt and 1 Stripe
Later on the same day we carried out a two hour Judo grading for both Children and Adults which members being paired off with someone of the same grade to allow them to demonstrate together the skills and techniques necessary to pass their respective grades.
The grading was divided between fundamentals throws and groundwork and for the more experienced multiple attacks and defences were worked on. Their were some great results, Zeus and Theos both gained their Blue Belts with two stripes.
Our Young Legends are aged between 6 – 9 years old. Their gradings are all conducted at a formal grading with pass / fail criteria. The format for them at the less experienced level is to train in a 45 minutes class to remind them of the skills that they have to demonstrate. They are then asked to come up in small groups and demonstrate their skills to the examiners.
Our first group grading were attempting either their first or second belt and some were understandably nervous. We saw some excellent work from them with special mentions going to Sean for excellent focus and good forms and Sara for great partnerwork. In this grading session Georgina who was testing for her 2nd Dan during the weekend was tested on her coaching and assessment skills.
Our second session of the the weekend for again for Young Legends going for the Red and Gold belts. The format was the same although given the greater experience of this group, the requirements were more stringent to achieve the results that they desired. Emily performed superbly in her grading and over achieved, receiving a double grade.
Our final session on the Saturday was for Young Legends grading upto Blue and Black Belt. Given the seniority and experience of many of these children, the format for their grading was designed to stretch them to their limits. After a brief warm up, they moved onto a two hour grading, where they were active for all of the time performing their fundamental skills, partnerwork, fighting at different ranges with multiple opponents and forms. All the while the three examiners were looking at the technical skills of the participants and their prowess. Sophie performed well enough to deserve a double grade in this session.
On the Sunday morning, the less experienced Urban Warriors (10 – 14 years) got their chance to shine. At this level the children and teenagers are much more physically able and cover a much wider syllabus. They are tested not only on technical skill, but also on their understanding and interpretation of what they learn and how they put it into practice. Congratulations to Lex-Jay after a gruelling grading and rather a lot of fights he gained a double grade
This was followed by both Urban Warriors and Adults being text for ranking upto 4th Kyu, Purple and White belt. Those who hadn’t graded before were nervous, those that had graded were more nervous.
The intensity is somewhat higher in these sessions and occasionally an accident happens. No lasting injuries here, but suffice to say that Helen can defend herself quite ably.
We worked through a lot of partnerwork with this group to pressure test their skills in live use and their fortitude under pressure particularly those going for 4th Kyu, the highest grade before Brown Belt including for this group multiple partnerwork. Congratulations to Ryoko who put her skills to go use and gained a double grade to Red belt.
The final session was the finale and highlight of the weekend, the Brown and Black Belt grading with 23 members attempting to pass their next belt.
The excitement and fear had built up over the weekend, those people invited to test for their Black belts had already passed the theory part of the exam and now needed to pass the physical test. During this exam its fair to say that there is a mixture of laughter, tears and sighs of relief all interspersed with a ‘can do belief’ and determination to succeed.
This session tested everyone for three hours, starting with an fundamentals to test correct base skills and then more advanced fundamentals. Followed by partnerwork including groundwork, throws, padswork and fighting and forms. The forms are tested in groups, so some people get a quick breather, not the Black Belts, they got to spend time striking the kick bags with a variety of techniques before they got their turn to demonstrate their mandatory form, The Tai Ki Form, designed to show shortcomings in their body condition. Followed by additional forms or Kata of the examiners choice. Just when the Black Belt candidates thought it was all over, they had to do more work, would they fold under the pressure or rise to the occasion, the latter of course.
Congratulations to everyone who passed their grading during December, you all received the belt that you deserved. Many thanks to Zane, Isabel, Samantha and Zara for helping with the grading.
Tired but very happy, the final grading of 2017. Congratulations to all.
A team of 11 competitors from Shin Gi Tai Martial Arts Academy were selected to be part of the England team competing at the World Union of Karate-do Federations (WUKF) World Championships in Dublin between 15th and 19th June. The event was held in a large conference centre in Dublin, Citywest. Which was just as well given the logistics of housing all the competitors and spectators under one roof for the three days of the championships.
WUKF have members from Countries all over the world and many of them sent competitors to this event. In total 74 Federations attended, 2274 individual competitors and 455 teams supported by 230 Coaches and 128 referees or judges. As it turned out there were 12 competition areas, which on all three days of the competition where in daily use for at least 14 hours. In short it is the biggest Karate championships worldwide during 2016.
The members of the team from Basingstoke comprised of Bryan Andrews (48) Lindsey Andrews (41) Katie Dolan (43) Mandi Miles (39) Mark van Meerkerk (45) Edward van Meerkerk (17) Zara Hughes-White (17) Jack Wyatt (13) Zane Sewell (13) Harry van Meerkerk (13) and Kienan Dolan (12.)
The team had worked hard towards this event with many training sessions and squad events since February. Lots of work on developing the fitness to compete in the large categories. More work on fine tuning their Kata skills. (* Kata is a choreographed solo sequence of movements where attacking and defensive movements are practised in sequence. Kumite is fighting against an opponent) Their timing and rhythm, the quality of their techniques and the ‘look and feel’ of the Kata. In the Kumite, people worked on some bread and butter techniques, the fundamentals to ensure that they were optimised in all kinds of different positions and situations, they worked their favourite techniques which were tried and trusted and they looked at tactics and ringcraft to ensure that they could control the fight and the area.
The team assembled for their first training session in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon which was a seminar with multiple World Champion Christophe Pinna. This covered his system and gave us some things to take away and practice to improve our fighting. After this we worked on our individual Katas together as a team with the coaches providing feedback. For the majority of the team it was then a restful evening. Some of the senior coaches had to attend a presidents and officials meeting and dinners, looking at plans for the next few years with WUKF.
Thursday morning was an early start for all the coaches who had to attend a mandatory coaching seminar to enable them to coach Matside during the event. There was another seminar with Pinna which many of the team again attended to learn some new skills. Late Thursday afternoon, the whole squad had to register and be checked to ensure weights and heights were correct for the categories entered and that everyone was who they said they were. Some more light training for the squad with stretching and Kata to keep limber.
Thursday evening was the official opening ceremony with all a full house in terms of the spectators and all the competitors and officials. The officials speeches were given and some excellent displays of Irish folk music and different forms dancing were given. This was the first time that the World Championships had included people with a disability and they asked Shin Gi Tai to perform in the opening ceremony with Mandi Miles demonstrating some Wheelchair based Kata and also doing some fighting and self defence drills along with Lindsey and Bryan Andrews. All three had worked hard together over the previous three months to choreograph a strong routine, which in the end was just over seven minutes long. There were thousands of people in the audience and estimated at 100,000 watching online. Our demonstration brought the house down with several standing ovations received. It was a great example of Disability Karate and ‘able bodied’ Karate being practiced side by side, as it should be.
Friday morning was the first day of the actual competition and it started early with an 8:30 arrival in the venue. The event started with Children’s kata performed in groups based upon their age range in age order. The standard was high and the number of competitors in each category massive, one of our team had eighty fighters in his category. We saw some spirited performances during the course of the day from the children in particular Jack Wyatt pulled off some fine victories in the team fighting including a very nice head kick to win that bout. Jack’s team went onto win a Bronze medal in the team event. Mark van Meerkerk performed some good Kata but wasn’t quite able to make the final rounds in a strong category, Bryan Andrews in the same category made it to the semi final. Next up were Katie Dolan and Lindsey Andrews competing in the Veteran’s A Kata (35-40 yrs), again with a large category it was somewhat of a nail-biter. Katie made it through to the second round and showed great promise for her first World Championship. Lindsey battled through to win a silver against a very good Italian competitor. Next up, again was Lindsey in Veteran’s B Kata (41-45.) She went through the preliminary rounds and in the final drew for 1st place. She then had to perform a different kata as a tie break. She picked Anan, which is an old favourite that had helped her to two previous World Titles. Her American opponent picked the same Kata and it was clear within the first 1/3 of her performance of the Kata that Lindsey had won her third world title.
Bryan Andrews was called onto the mats to fight at 8:20pm. With over 40 competitors, the category was a big one. He started off well with a 7:0 win over a Welsh opponent and this set him up for the following fights. There were a couple of nailbiters, the quarter finals were a notable one with the match going into sudden death extra time as a result of some penalty points against Bryan, he scored first and won the bout. The final of this category started at 11:35pm and there was a partisan crowd cheering the Irish competitor and a few hardcore English fans who stayed to the very end. There was plenty of action to see and some lumps and bumps for both competitors, Andrews, eventually won the match 5:2 and secured The World Championship title. His medal was finally presented at 00:10, a long day but a very successful one. The end of day one and we had won Bronze in the teams, one Silver and had two Gold medals and World Champions.
The rest of Saturday morning came along very quickly and it was a prompt start with the teenagers coming out for their Kata prompt at 9:00am, we saw some great performances with Edward van Meerkerk finishing 9th in the world and Zara Hughes-White getting through to the semi final. Harry van Meerkerk did a little better than his big brother coming in 7th place. The boys teams of Harry van Meerkerk, Kienan Dolan and Zane Sewell fought bravely in the teams coming up against a team who were all at least a foot taller than them, sadly their courage wasn’t enough to give them the win. Our last competitor on Saturday evening was Kienan Dolan in the boys 11-12 category with over 80 people in his category, they split it into different pools across several areas to facilitate a faster finish. Kienan fought through his own and then beat the winners of the other pools to reach the final. The American he fought was just a little too experienced and quick for Kienan this time, so he won a richly deserved Silver medal and came #2 in the world.
Sunday morning was an earlier start at 8 and for Shin Gi Tai, there weren’t many of our team left competing. Zane Sewell performed well in the fighting as did Harry van Meerkerk, neither made it through the preliminary rounds though. Edward van Meerkerk and Zara Hughes-White fought valiantly with some good techniques, but weren’t able to pass the preliminary rounds. Mandi Miles was next up and she performed some great katas to win a Gold medal in the Wheelchair category and become the World Champion for this, a great achievement considering she only started training in March 2015. Our last event was the cadet females team fighting for Gold against the Polish national team, undoubtedly there were some nerves, but this didn’t seem to affect Zara Hughes-White or the other girls as they won the match convincingly 6:0 to become Team World Champions.
The days were all long and tiring, the competition was intense with some excellent teams competing against us and an enviable standard. All things considered we’d do it all over again to compete at this level.
Our final medal tally was
Gold Medals and World Champion
Shin Gi Tai Martial Arts performing at The Opening Ceremony.