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GTUK Championships Report

Posted on: 15.11.12
Posted by: Jo Auciello

GTUK Championship - 27th October 2012

Two score and five years ago, Grand Master Rhee brought forth in this country a new martial art, conceived in courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit. Master Oldham was a student in the first club, which was in Coventry, so it seems appropriate that the GTUK Open Championships should be held so close to Coventry, in Ryton-on-Dunsmore.

The morning of 27th October 2012 brought the first frosts of the season to the English Midlands.  I arrived at the venue, looking forward to loafing around with a cup of coffee and admiring the handy work of the dedicated team who had spent the previous evening preparing the hall for the tournament. I felt that I had suffered the Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune when it turned out that the mats had only just arrived, some twelve hours behind schedule thanks to the car pack known as the M25. All those present immediately sprung into action to get the squares laid out, a task made harder by a new batch of mats which just a little smaller than the others. But they were soon in place and the scene was set for the competitors to arrive.

The hall quickly filled up with competitors and spectators, all exuding a combination of excitement, anticipation and apprehension, all eager to get proceedings underway. The opening ceremony, presided over by Mr Darren Holmes and Mr Andrew Holmes, saw an appreciative crowd welcome such luminaries as Mr Steve King, Miss Marie McAneny, Mr Richard Auciello, Mr Paul Burgess, and of course, Master Oldham. The best of times quickly became the worst of times, as I somehow failed to operate a simple microphone, meaning that only proficient lip-readers were able to absorb the full sentiment of the official’s oath. That aside, the opening ceremony went smoothly, and the tournament got underway.

There is always a wide range of abilities and experience at an open event. This tournament was no different, featuring seasoned international campaigners along with many people of all ages who were making their first forays into Taekwon-Do competition. The friendly but competitive nature of the GTUK meant that all were able to test themselves to the limit, and to gain experience, the only source of knowledge, in a safe and supportive environment. The pee-wee competitors were first up and their enthusiastic performances were quickly followed by the determined efforts of the juniors. Adult coloured belt competitors then got the opportunity to show their mettle, with their pattern events rounding off the first session of competition.

Following the peewee and junior medal presentations, the assembled masses were treated to a breathtaking display of taekwondo at its most dazzling. The mid-tournament demonstration was performed by Mr Auciello, Mr D. Holmes, Mr A. Holmes and Mr Odell. The sense of anticipation grew as Mr Auciello was seen prowling around the arena in a grim-reaper outfit, leading to the expectation that the Halloween theme had arrived sooner than expected. It was soon clear that such ghoulish delights were to be consigned to the after party, as the music struck up and the black robe was torn away to reveal the true theme of the demonstration, James Bond. Highlights included the first public performance of the new self-defence pattern, some mesmerising set sparring, a stunning bout of tag-team free sparring and a gasp-inducing display of destruction. The performances by the GTUK England Squad coaches highlighted the fact that the teams’ successes are only achieved by standing on the shoulders of giants. Mr Odell showed us that he is rapidly establishing himself amongst the elite exponents of the martial art. I strongly recommend that anyone who missed it finds the videos of the demonstration on youtube; I have done, and I was there!

Joining Master Oldham to watch the demonstration was Mr Gary Bradshaw (6th Degree), from the Unified International Taekwon-Do Federation (UITF). As most of you will already know, the GTUK joined the UITF &  the TI earlier this year, showing that no association is an island, entire of itself. This relationships will create many opportunities for all students of the GTUK to compete in tournaments and to train with masters and grand-masters, all around the world. There are exciting times ahead!

The ovation of the crowd had barely subsided following the demonstration, when the second session of competition was underway. The adult coloured belts and black belts alike showed that they had been inspired to give it their all by what they had seen. The adult male black belts in particular were under pressure to perform at their best, having witnessed some worryingly good sparring by the juniors earlier in the day. As these young men come through to the adult categories, the strength in depth that the GTUK enjoys will only continue to grow. The veteran competitors also displayed their characteristic grit and determination, proving that anyone who keeps learning stays young.

The tournament was rounded off with a team competition for adult black belts. As well as providing the opportunity to develop and test theories of team tactics, this allowed competitors to test their skills against different opponents to those in their own weight and grade categories. There was still a strong audience presence, even as the tournament approached its tenth hour, and they were rewarded with a fine display of sparring.

The pain of parting at the end of the tournament was nothing to the joy of meeting again at the after party. This was the second year that there had been a Halloween fancy dress party, and I think that it is fair to say that the idea has taken off! The quality and variety of outfits was mind boggling; you could find yourself chatting to a superhero, dancing with a witch or squeezing past a pumpkin. The effort that had been put in by so many people made for a truly memorable night. Reflecting on the night, I can’t help thinking that people’s choice of outfit gave an interesting insight into how they see themselves. It was a great evening, with great people, and the perfect end to the day.

Charlie Cox

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