It was the morning of Saturday 29th October and the Ryton On Dunsmore Connexions centre took on a distinctly eerie feeling, cloaked in (light) fog and with temperatures erring on the side of cold (ish), the outlines of cobwebs covering doors and just the faint sound of ‘The Monster Mash’ (although that may have just been me) when the GTUK competitors & spectators descended in mass upon the leisure centre for the British Championships.

The venue felt exclusively our own as we used the large sports hall outside the main building and coming into the hall it felt like no other tournament we’ve run. We know that it takes a dedicated team to set up for competitions the night before and that’s always been the case, but this time the attention to detail and the scale of the preparations were second to none.

All the rings were in the centre of the hall, easily viewable by all spectators, the holding area and competitor warm up areas were set away from the rings allowing competitors to prepare properly for their categories whilst not interfering with those already competing. The GTUK memorabilia stand was looking full and vibrant with a variety of T-shirt choices for kids and adults alike, wristbands, Halloween treat bags, badges, car stickers and more all ready to be sold with all proceeds going to the England squad members. This is down to the GTUK’s new Marketing Officer Mrs Auciello who has worked tirelessly for over a year in raising the profile of the GTUK and it’s members and really for the first time making the association feel connected in ways that it wasn’t before, members and supporters alike.  GTUK and England flags and posters were donning the walls around the hall and the atmosphere was buzzing as people came through the doors, a real feeling of excitement and anticipation for the day.

After the Chief Umpires had met with all the officials and had bowed them all in the opening ceremony could begin. Mr D Holmes began by thanking the tournament organising committee and handing out GTUK cufflinks as thanks – their effort in setting up a great tournament is hugely appreciated by everyone. Mr Holmes thanked Mrs Auciello for her efforts with the squad and the tournament and indeed the association and wished Mr Auciello a speedy recovery from his operation that was scheduled for that day. Master Oldham and special guest Master Harry (ITF) from the ITUK were welcomed and officially opened the ceremony after the officials and competitor’s oaths had been read. Master Harry’s axe kick won’t be forgotten by many – amazing flexibility and power demonstrated for all to see. Master Oldham then smashed through both of the other two pieces of wood at the same time, to say he’s a Master who has still got it would be stating the blindingly obvious but you know what, he’s still got it.

The day began with the Pee-Wee and junior competitors and from the off the standards were high. The crowd engagement in the competitions on each square was brilliant with constant cheering and applause just adding to and building a great atmosphere with real passion on display from competitors and supporters alike.

The patterns and sparring competitions progressed with efficiency with most of the semi-finals and finals being announced over the microphone to further intensify the interest on the squares. What was obvious to the officials and spectators immediately was the higher standards – something that has been helped in no small way by the revitalised England Squad, which now has the whole range of ages training together from  Pee-Wees to Veterans.

The power and strength in depth of the England squad was further on display during the break with an electrifying demonstration from the squad members – the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Boom Boom Pow’ will never be the same again! It was there for all to see, free sparring from every age range, dynamic step sparring from adults and juniors, and flying destruction and power destruction not to mention ‘Boom Boom Pow’!   An awesome demonstration put together with the coaches help and the hard work over numerous squad sessions from the squad itself – well done guys.

The competition then took a break while the Pee-Wees and Juniors medal presentations were made by Master Oldham, Master Harry, and Master Sahota (ITF – UKGT) who had arrived a little later in the day. Photos were taken of all the winners with the three World Masters, as well as special presentations for the Pee-Wee and Junior competitor of the day.

The afternoon session saw the adult and veteran categories of patterns, sparring and destruction going on. Again the standards were incredibly high by all, the umpires commenting that the patterns were looking very sharp and the sparring free and controlled. The interest stayed for the afternoon from the spectators also, again adding to the atmosphere of support for the GTUK and the competitors alike. A couple of announcements went out about the Souvenir stall running out of T-Shirts and the after the 2nd one there were no more of any T-shirt in any size – a fantastic success!

The categories were all hard fought and some came down to the wire, especially in the black belt divisions, but there were some fantastic individual performances that should be and were applauded by all.

The England Squad coaches were also on the lookout and have issued letters to instructors after meeting with them about some of their members – letters have gone to instructors for people who performed well inviting them to attend the next squad session in Derby on Saturday 19th November – another step in increasing the strength of the squad.

Following the adult medal presentations by again including male and female competitor of the day awards, the special event kicked off. This was a 3 person team competition at all age levels. The teams had been picked by the England squad coaches at the last squad session and each and every member was raring to go!

The atmosphere was electric as the competitions got under way and there were undoubtedly some amazing performances. It gave everyone the chance to see just how good the squad was at every level and was the most glowing of endorsements to how well the squad is running at the moment and just how many people are involved in it.

Every result from the day will soon be up on this website so keep checking back!

After the hard work of the day was done the after tournament Halloween Fancy Dress Party could begin, with many great Halloween costumes on show. Mr Charlie Cox gets a special mention for his ‘Grim Reaper’ costume which scared many a junior (as well as many adults too!).

I think I’ve talked about the ‘atmosphere’ quite a few times in this article but it really cannot be said enough. The togetherness and excitement of the association now has been a long time coming but it’s most definitely here. It feels as if everyone is pulling in the same direction and that everyone really is one big family – thank you.

We will continue to go from strength to strength – we have the right people doing the right things not just at the right times, but all the time.


Phil Miller

Press Officer


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