Three of the Coaches from Basingstoke’s Shin Gi Tai Martial Arts Academy took part in the World Karate Championships in Slovenia over the weekend of 7-9th June. The Competition was open to national federations and had over 20 nations attending.
Lindsey Andrews (38) Mark Nevola (49) and Bryan Andrews (45) have been training since January with this competition in mind, everything geared up to this. Their first competition of the year at the end of January at The British International Open Karate Championships produced two gold medals for Lindsey and One for Mark whilst Bryan won a Bronze after an enforced break from competition through injury. The Karate Sport England National Championships at the end of March produced another Gold Medal for Lindsey and Silvers for both Mark and Bryan in their quest for success. They have also entered a number of regional level competitions again winning plenty of medals including competitions in Berlin and Istanbul for Mark. Part of their training process was to analyse their performance and to understand what lessons could be learned and applied from each competition.
In the final six weeks leading upto the competition, additional sacrifices had to be made with competition specific training needing to be increased to 3-5 hours per day. Numerous road trips to go and train with national coaches including Ian Cuthbert, (Coach to Karate England National Squad) and to attend National Squad Training sessions have taken place. These were in addition to their regular and additional training sessions in the club.
Lindsey has been juggling being a mother of three boys (aged 8, 11 and 13), running a very successful professional Martial Arts Club, teaching her classes and doing her own training. So the majority of her practice has been during the daytime using her club’s facilities to practice her Kata, again and again until all the kinks had been ironed out both individually and also with her teammates. Mark and Bryan have spent hours together and with other members of the Shin Gi Tai Competition squad practicing both for their Kata events and also for the fighting. Mark is a Deputy Head Teacher at a Hampshire school, so his time is at a premium, but he got up early and went to bed late in his quest for success and made good use of the half term holiday to arrange some additional training. Bryan is Lindsey’s husband and also runs Shin Gi Tai Martial Arts Academy with her. Like Lindsey he also made the time to train himself for several hours a day. All three competitors spent a long time helping each other and giving feedback on what and how they could improve.
The majority of the England Squad arrived at their hotel late on the Wednesday evening in Portoroz, Slovenia, just in time to have a light dinner and then go to bed. We started the final preparations the following day at the first of the Squad training sessions run by Abdu Shaher 8th Dan. The first session focussed on timing and explosive footwork and for those members taking part in the Kata, working on making their movements smoother and ‘cleaner.’ A Mid afternoon break and a wander around the nearby Marina helped to maintain the energy before Ian Cuthbert 7th Dan ran the second session of the day, which was a very high energy reaction based class working on being able to react instantly to the movements of an opponent. In the Kata we focussed on deepening our stances and the transitions between techniques. It has to be said that a number of the Kata competitors decided to get to the squad training session 45 minute early, so that they could do some additional practice together. The Friday morning saw us going through our final squad training session led by Dan Cuthbert, with teammates partnering up to practice their favourite techniques and stretch out. The Kata competitors got down to refining their Kata and once again the Ladies team of Lindsey Andrews, Lynne Aston and Tricia Jordan were up and at it early to really make the best of their chances.
Friday evening arrived and all the team events took place, it’s fair to say that after the opening ceremony there were lots of nervous looking competitors. Overall England did well though with quite a few teams going through to the final across all of our disciplines.
We had competitors in the Men’s Veteran’s Fighting (Mark Nevola, Jeremy Bass and Bryan Andrews) and Ladies Kata (Lindsey Andrews, Lynne Aston and Tricia Jordan) In the first of the men’s events the team fought a very determined Slovenia and lost their semi final match, so had to be content with a Bronze Medal. In their next event, they made it through to the final on the Sunday morning. The ladies team were on fire and at the end of the semi final, they carried a convincing lead through to the final.
Saturday saw the individual events and the whole of the England team, stepped up their game. Lindsey was up first in the individual Shito Ryu kata (Karate Kata competitions are split into different styles of Karate) She performed Seienchin in the semi finals, a Kata that she has previously used to good effect and this time was no different, at the end of this round, she lead the competitors going through to the finals by 0.7 of a mark. The finalists combine their scores from the final and semi final to determine the winner. This makes things harder for them, because they have to excel over two rounds. Mark didn’t make it through to the final this time, he came a respectable 8th in his category, which is a very good result considering he only started entering Kata competitions late last year. Bryan came through his Kata category in third place despite a small wobble that cost him 0.5 of a mark.
After a light lunch, it was time for the individual fighting events. We saw some excellent fighting from our team mates to take them through to the finals. In his individual fighting event, Bryan came in 4th place, just missing out on a medal against some tough and determined opponents who dished out a few lumps and bumps during the matches including a torn hamstring and badly bruised foot. Mark was next up and he won through to the finals of his event quite convincingly with a range of different kicks and punches.
Sunday was finals day with all the finalists under pressure to win the elusive Gold Medals. The morning came and the final were due to start at 9:00, but they actually started at 8:50 with Lindsey’s category starting the proceedings. The number of matted areas had been reduced for the finals to allow the spectators to follow as much of the action as they could, so no pressure for Lindsey, who had to go on first in her division, with all eyes on her. It is often considered a disadvantage for a competitor to get drawn first as typically the judges will give an average core and mark others up or down from there. Lindsey had chosen Anan as her ‘favourite’ kata and six months of hard work and polish really showed here with a very polished performance. In the final, the average score was set at 8.00 with normal variations to go from 7.00 to 9.00. Lindsey’s scores from the five judges were 8.5, 8.5, 8.3, 8.4 and 8.5 which combined with the scores from the previous round, meant she had an unassailable lead, probably. After a nail biting 10 minutes, after all the other competitors had been, she was indeed the Ladies Veteran’s Shito Ryu World Kata Champion and Gold Medallist. The first medal for Shin Gi Tai at a world level and it was Gold, a very high standard to follow.
Bryan was next up in the Men’s Shotokan category, also up first in his category, but he produced a very good rendition of his favourite kata Gojushiho Dai. In this instance though it wasn’t quite good enough to win him a medal, but he had improved upon his position at the European championships.
Next up was the fighting and Mark was our first competitor, competing against our England Team mate Rob Ward. Both are very experienced fighters and know each very well. The fight started tentatively with both fighters trying to feel the other one out and spot any mistakes to capitalise on. Mark picked up the pace and was first to score with a rapid side step and roundhouse kick combination. The fight carried on and it was very close, but at the end Mark was just pipped into second place.
The ladies Veteran’s Kata team came up next and produced a polished performance of their favourite Kata Seienchin to win the final and become Gold Medallists and World Champion.
Our last event as a club was in the Veterans’ Rotation Kumite to fight for the Gold Medal. Basically the bout lasts six minutes and the coach has to rotate his fighters so that each of them has a minimum of 30 seconds of fighting time. We faced the Italian team, who had been on form all weekend. Sadly they proved too strong / too fast for us and they defeated us to win the Gold medal.
Our Total Medal tally was
– Gold Medal and World Champion – Ladies Veterans Shito Ryu Kata
– Gold Medal and World Champion – Ladies Team Veterans Kata
– Silver in Veterans C Group – Sambon Shobu Kumite
– 8th in Veterans C Group Shotokan Kata
– Silver in Veterans Team Rotation Kumite
– Bronze in Veterans Team Sambon Shobu Kumite
– 4th in Veterans B Group Sambon Shobu Kumite
– 6th in Veterans B Group Shotokan Kata
– Silver in Veterans Team Rotation Kumite
– Bronze in Veterans Team Sambon Shobu Kumite