Voilà, the GTUK! In view, a humble veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

The Friday before the Scottish championships and that old familiar feeling of a long car journey with good friends through some stunning settings (some not so stunning) to reach our destination, lying south-east of Glasgow sits Motherwell, known for its steel production (more on that later) and the home for our humble tale…

The night before the English competitors met up in their various hotels, having a drink and a catch up, exchanging stories of the journey up and expectations of the weekend ahead.  But look closely, some of those sat around in hotel reception areas and bars are slightly quieter than the rest, thinking, it seems about a task that lies ahead, a task that some have been building up to for a number of months.

On arrival at the spectacular venue of Ravenscraig Sports Facility, site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks (there’s that word again) the Scottish team headed by the extremely hard working and forever humble Miss Marie McAneny already had the sports hall looking fantastic.  The 6 squares were already set up, the refreshments and souvenirs were already on the tables, the head table was ready to go and banners proudly proclaiming this to be the domain of XS GTUK Taekwon-Do were donning the walls.  Parents, spectators and competitors filed into the hall seamlessly and soon the place was buzzing, excited and nervous chatter intermingled with already keen autograph hunters on the lookout for the GTUK seniors and their own personal heroes.

Here and there GTUK England squad flags and banners were appearing and the plethora mixed in with the XS and Scottish flags and already you could sense the atmosphere for the day to come.

The competitors lined the squares and the officials formed a walkway and the introductions began, with Master Oldham leading from the front.  A proud president, founder and 8th degree walked into the sports hall to rapturous applause and cheering as he accepted an award from Miss McAneny.  He was followed by Mr Auciello, 6th degree black belt, chief coach for the England squad and a man who the association can be immensely proud of, spearheading as he has the evolvement of the GTUK.  Following him was the always shy and retiring Mr King 5th degree, a man who it is only possible to keep out of the sparring categories by physical restraint.  Mr Darren and Mr Andy Holmes were the final two seniors to enter, both England squad coaches, both legends in their own right.

The GTUK were then treated to some distinguished guests from various disciplines and experience, sports ministers and former professional footballers among them.  With that Master Oldham welcomed all and wished the competitors good luck.  Mr D Holmes lead with the Taekwon-Do oath which all competitors and officials boomed out with spine tingling pride and then followed the competitors oath and what should have been the officials oath if it wasn’t for a certain someone re-reading the competitors oath and carrying on completely unaware until being told afterwards – doh!

Referring to the glossy program of events the next event to take place was the demonstration.  What a demonstration!  It had everything you could possibly imagine and then some more.  Patterns from the Scottish demonstration team with the head England coaches alongside them, perfectly in-sync. Mr Auciello’s now trademark Ul-Ji to “Singing in the rain”,  fight sequences that seriously took your breath away from Mr Odell, Mr Baguely and others, destruction blindfolded, flying over countless people and Mr Odell’s 5 consecutive 3600 flying turning kicks being highlights (although at that point I did envision my head being on the end of those kicks during free sparring later on) everyone from tiny pee wees, to juniors and adults taking to the stage, kicking, punching, cart wheeling, star jumping, so much going on and so well organised and rehearsed it is difficult to put into words – however through the magic of the interweb – see for yourself!


The competition got underway, and from the position of a judge the standard of the competition was high, really, really high.  The pee-wee and junior categories were so tight – the judges were commenting between categories about just how closely they had to watch the competitors for that one little detail that separated the winner from the loser from round 1 all the way to the final.  A resounding endorsement for the hardworking and diligent GTUK instructors – hats off to you.  Future Scotland and England squad members were there to be seen!

The tournament ran smoothly, with the new tournament format well practiced by officials and competitors alike, patterns and sparring categories were well under way and the podium presentations throughout the day by Master Oldham were a highlight for everyone present and really gave everyone the opportunity to celebrate their own and others’ success properly.

The junior black belts were hotly contested categories, with memorable bouts in both patterns and sparring giving a glimpse into the future for the adults watching (there were some definite *gulps* to be heard around the place).  The steely determination and effort by all was truly brilliant.

The adult and veteran categories were underway in the early afternoon and again the standards were high, male and female competitors battling it out for a coveted medal and place on the podium in patterns, sparring and destruction.  Throughout all this we can’t forget to mention the spectators who were there all day cheering on everyone, feeling every punch and kick and savouring every victory, but also the officials who worked tirelessly at every job, on every category, without those guys the tournament just couldn’t have run in the way it did – thank you so so much.

The adult black belts got under way by mid afternoon and again the standards were high, making judging patterns a tough task for the officials and needing keen vision during the sparring.

With the individual sparring categories and the destruction categories completed you could feel the change in atmosphere as the tournament stepped up yet another gear.

In the past the GTUK hasn’t been able to field pee-wee and junior teams, it’s just not happened traditionally but what a change.  The England squad have a wealth of students to select from who regularly attend the squad training sessions and the teams were picked weeks ago so that some focused preparation could take place for this tournament.  The Scottish pee wees and juniors have always had an excellent training regime that has produced some fantastic competitors in the past, some that continue to fight on into the adult categories, and they continue to pull out all the stops – today was no exception.

Everyone must appreciate how difficult it can be for a very young person to stand up in front of a panel of judges and perform a pattern.  Now multiply that by 100 as they stand up in front of a panel of judges, a big, loud crowd and perform a pattern in unison with breaks, walk on and walk off routines.  The teams were brilliant.  The patterns went down a storm with the crowd and the coaches and as they came off the square you could see that they knew they’d done a good job.

While the junior and then adult team patterns went on to rapturous applause and support, both pee wee sparring categories got underway.  Man, were there some good fighters on display from both sides of the border.  The bouts were hard fought without exception and the courage shown by each and every competitor was personified by Bronwyn Richardson, who bravely fought on after having to stop a couple of times through a leg injury, and by Lauren Twelvetree who battled on despite an early setback from some awesome Scottish sparring.

The adult female sparring competition consisted of 2 English teams, lead by Miss Daniela Bright and Miss Rachel Agustsson.  The teams fought hard with some of the most intelligent sparring of the day on display.

The male teams were well into their sparring bouts by the time I got over to watch them and it was close.  The bouts were being hard fought every single time, without exception and the crowd loved every second of it.  The last fight was fought and we thought we had a result.  But some quick thinking from the officials resulted in the ultimate climax – put your best fighters up, it’s a draw.

Mr Odell and Mr Dewey stepped up for Scotland and England respectively and despite Mr Odell being in some considerable and obvious pain the crowd were treated to a sparring spectacular – it’s got to be seen to be believed – check out the GTUK England Squad page on Facebook to see it!

The end of the competition came with the team places being announced again to yet more applause and cheers – where everyone found the energy from no-one knows.

The party put on by Miss McAneny and her team at the Strathcylde Hilton was exceptional – great music – great dancing – particularly the line dancing – and great company.

That word ‘steel’ kept coming up in my mind throughout the weekend and whilst sitting down to write this article.  A couple of clicks on the magic interweb and it got me thinking some more.

Properties of steel include:

A shiny metal with an attractive finish.


Strong and resistant.

Transfers heat and energy.

Long lasting.

I think there are more than a couple of parallels between steel and the GTUK don’t you?

Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call us, the GTUK!

Phil Miller

(parts stolen, unashamedly from V for Vendetta!)