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GTUK at the UKGT Champs

Posted on: 05.03.13
Posted by: Jo Auciello

Master Sahota Cup, 17th February 2013.


2013 is set to be a busy year for the GTUK England Squad, with a crowded programme of national and international competitions, so it was great to open the season with a friendly and well run semi-international tournament. The Master Sahota Cup was hosted by the UKGT in the former industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. The event was held in an excellent modern leisure centre in a recently regenerated area close to the town centre.

Around twenty competitors, plus coaches, photographers and supporters, represented the GTUK England Squad at this event. The feeling of camaraderie within the squad was great; be it cheering for each other on the squares, or taking turns to warm up with big spender Robbie Wells’ international standard skipping rope in the foyer. This team spirit played a big part in pushing the small group of GTUK competitors to collect a total of twenty medals, and just as importantly, to have a nice day. I am not going to list every medal won because it would be tedious, but I will pick out a few as I go along. For more details, see facebook status updates.

And so it began. The officials and competitors were duly lined up, and turned to face the entrance doors in anticipation of the arrival of the masters. Master Sahota, founder of the UKGT, was joined by Master Daffey, and GTUK President, Senior Master Oldham.

After a brief welcome from Master Sahota, the tournament was quickly underway, with patterns up first. These were performed under slightly different conditions to those that we are used to in GTUK tournaments. Each competitor took to the mats individually, performing their pattern once. They were then awarded points by each of the three officials, with sum of these scores being recorded. Repeat performances were only required when medal positions were tied, so large categories were dealt with efficiently. A nice feature of this was that it allowed you to gauge your position in the field as a whole, and avoided my usual pitfall of being drawn against the eventual winner in the first round.

An unexpected challenge came in the fact that some of the pattern categories took place on mats that were very keen to move about on the floor; during Sam Il I found myself stranded on a mat, seemingly miles from any other. That’s my excuse for not winning a medal anyway. Will Dewey seemed to have no such issues as he came through a large black-belt adult male category to claim a very creditable silver medal; I do sometimes think that he must be half man half machine.

As rumours circulated that it was sunny outside (in Wales in February!), the pattern section drew to a close, and the sparring began. GTUK competitors had acquitted themselves well in patterns, with several medals to show for it, but there was certainly some apprehension in the camp as we pulled on the gloves, boots and helmets. There were several fourth degree black belts in the tournament, and many others who had displayed some pretty sharp kicking skills during their pattern performances. Conversely, I felt like I was dead from the waist down.

As soon as the sparring started, it was clear that the GTUK team was more than capable of competing at this level. Conner McMahon lead the way by winning gold in his junior category, and soon the GTUK was tasting success in many other categories. Things got pretty frenetic at this point, with our competitors sparring on two or three squares at the same time. Meanwhile, the power and special technique contests got underway, meaning that competitors often had to go straight from one medal presentation to the next event. While Amy Ridgard and Sarah Dugdale were claiming silver and bronze at sparring on one square, the next square across saw Robbie Wells and Liam Watkinson going one better. A dazzling display from these two teenaged prodigies showed that the GTUK has a bright future. At that point, my attention was suddenly drawn to the other side of the hall by something that appeared to be miles in the air. It was, in fact, just that – Miles Westwood in the air, kicking (obliterating) a target that I would have needed a medium sized step-ladder to reach, on his way to special technique gold.

GTUK success continued with Sam Berridge, Jo Auciello, John Bowman, Darren Twelvetree and Tom Hill all experiencing gold against the soul in their respective categories. John’s victory was of particular note because of an impact to the eye that he suffered part way through the final. Having seen him respond like an armed man once the bout restarted, I would strongly advise all of you to avoid poking him in the eye at all costs.

As the event drew to a close, there was a general feeling of satisfaction amongst the GTUK team. Many people had won medals, and everyone had competed well, in the true spirit of Taekwon-do. We headed for the green, green grass of home, knowing that the first event of this hectic year had given us a great platform to build from.

Charlie Cox III

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