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GTUK Championship Report 02/03/13

Posted on: 17.07.13
Posted by: Andrew Pitchford

GTUK Open Championships, Saturday 2nd March 2013

The GTUK Open Championships, the first big GTUK event of 2013.  There had been a few warm up events such as the interclub tournament in the Northampton area and the England Squad expedition to the Master Sahota Cup in South Wales, but this was the first time the extended GTUK family would be back together this year.  These events are as much about sustaining long-standing friendships as they are about renewing old rivalries, but that’s not to say that there was any shortage of competitive spirit on display.

As always, the reception area of Sports Connexion in Ryton on Dunsmore was overflowing with competitors and spectators of all ages by 8am.  Instructors were busy assembling their students and calming last minute nerves in corridors and even outside, despite the chilly weather.  Soon, any club with all of its competitors ready was invited to enter the hall, where a pleasant surprise was in store.  Possibly inspired by the layout used at the Scottish GTUK Championships for the last few years, the competition squares had been arranged in a straight line, rather than a grid.  This may seem a pretty trivial change to the uninitiated, but it brought a fresh feel to the event, and meant that spectators could support competitors far more easily.

Having five squares in a row also seemed to make things run that little bit more smoothly;  there was even time for the coloured belt adult patterns to be run alongside the peewee and junior categories.  The morning session finished on a high, with four junior black belt finals taking place at the same time.  This alone would have generated an electric atmosphere, but it was transformed to high voltage by a running commentary from the GTUK’s DJ/announcer bloke, Chris Gibson.  Having someone dedicated to the role of keeping the audience informed has added an extra dimension to GTUK tournaments.  His relentless cheerfulness, even as he moves into the role of after-party DJ, put a sheen on the whole day.

With the hard earned junior and peewee medals presented, it was time for the demonstration.  As always, this was much anticipated.  Children sat as close as they dared to the central matted area and their families jostled for position with cameras and camcorders to capture the GTUK’s superstars in action.  What followed was a festival of patterns, set sparring, free sparring and destruction from the cream of the GTUK England Squad and their coaches.  The reward for those taking part was the adoration of the crowd, and an afternoon spent being pursued by an army autograph hunting peewees.

The rest of the day went as smoothly as the first session.  With their patterns contests already decided, the adult and veteran coloured belts were straight into free sparring.  Before long, their black belt counterparts were into the fray, and the breaking horse was starting to get to work.  The standards just seem to keep getting higher, with the steady influx of fresh competitors from the junior and coloured belt ranks pushing the adult black belts categories to new highs.

A special mention must go to Nidge Beddingfield from Beccles Taekwon-do.  Nidge has trained with the GTUK England Squad for the last few years, along with his sons, and has competed tirelessly in the Veteran Male 1st to 2nd degree category.  Having decided to retire from competition after this event, he went out on the highest high possible by winning gold in patterns, sparring and destruction.  Although he will undoubtedly still be around as an official and spectator, Nidge’s cheerful determination as a competitor will be missed.

As the tournament drew to a close, Master Oldham (as he was then), expressed his pride and gratitude to the association and particularly to his senior team for another well run event.  The formalities drew to a close with an announcement of just how soon the bar would be open, and everyone scurried away to get themselves into party mode.

The after party was the usual blend of exuberant dancing and maybe just a little consumption of alcohol.  As the evening progressed, some of the younger (adult) members decided that they would challenge the “more experienced” guys to a beer boat race.  The young guns learnt a valuable lesson here: though the legs may slow over the years, the throat certainly doesn’t.


Charlie Cox III (Press Officer)

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