17th July saw the Luton Higashi club enter a competition for the first time since Covid, as 13 competitors made their way to Worcester. Over 1,100 entries saw this to be what is likely the single biggest karate competition in England this year. The majority of the squad were competing for the first time.
Kata saw Christopher and Ti perform admirably in the event with Christopher losing in the first round to the daughter of an England coach, and Ti making his way into the second round only to be drawn against the eventual winner. Solid performances from two karateka in their first kata competition.
Kumite – Under 7’s
The club had 3 competitors in the under 7 section. However, with over 30 people in the section, they had their work cut out for them. Christopher was first up, and was unlucky to be drawn against somebody who even at that age was more experienced in sport karate, whilst Ti fought admirably in his bout. He lost on a split decision 2-1, however it was noticeable that the more experienced of the 3 officials had voted in favour of Ti.
That only left Isaac in the event. In the first round he won 3-0 with good punches and keeping pressure on his opponent. Isaac, throughout his bouts, maintained pressure on his opponents, displaying a good sense of timing on his counter punches. He fought his way to the final after 4 rounds of fighting. In the final his opponent was obviously well versed in competition karate and Isaac had to be content with a Silver in this occasion. However considering this was only his second ever competition it was a result he can be proud of.
Kumite – Under 9 Years Section
David has performed well within the pre-comp. training, but during the actual bout he again was unlucky to be drawn against a fighter from a sport karate based club. This was to be expected as this competition had drawn fighters from all across England. He showed tremendous resilience, but did not make the second round.
Kumite 10/11Years Section
The two Alex’s were in one of the biggest categories of the day and, with fighters who had competed in Europe and National Championships, it was always going to be difficult for them in this their first competition. They performed well, considering their lack of experience and even in their first competition the difference from their individual fight to the later team performance showed they take on board feedback very well.
Kumite 12/13 Years Section
Sean, Nathan and Szymon were is a section with over 30 competitors, some of whom I had seen competing, in my role as a national referee, but they proved undaunted by the challenge. Whilst they did not make it into round two they would have picked up some valuable experience about sport karate.
Kumite Girls 12/13
Having just turned 12, Alexandria had moved up an age section so was in a completely new category. Having spent the last 6 months concentrating on her basketball this would be a step into the unknown. An aggressive performance meant she kept the pressure on her opponents, and it was enough to secure a bronze medal, in her first competition since Covid.
Kumite – Team Events
The Under 8’s gained a bronze medal losing their team semi-final 2 victories to 1 with Isaac maintaining his impressive performance by defeating an older opponent. The age gap proved too much of a challenge and the team had to settle for joint third.
This team had a score to settle as some of them felt they could do better than their individual performances, and they weren’t wrong. Alex M. led from the start with a 2-0 win, giving the team the best start possible. Alex B. led for most of his fight by a single point but with a few seconds to go got caught with a body kick to lose 2-1, however his scored point proved invaluable later. The last fighter to step up was Caelan, who was approx. 8 inches shorter than his opponent. Caelan’s use of the fighting area was tremendous as his movement kept his larger opponent off balance. The minutes left turned to seconds and Caelan’s tactics were now beginning to show results as his opponent started to tire. The referee blew for time up and Caelan had secured a remarkable draw. The end result was 1 win each for each team and a draw, however Higashi had scored 3 points to put them through to the second round. In the second round they lost but the attitude and the performance within the team even was second to none.
A lack of experience proved to be the deciding factor in this team event as the boys lost in the first round. To their credit they did not capitulate in any fight and each fight went the distance. With more experience, I will expect them to be quite a difficult team to beat in the future.
Kumite – Seniors
After a sabbatical of a few years, Deji stepped onto the mat. His opponent was younger and had also competed on the competition circuit for a number of years, so was more experienced. Deji took the fight to his opponent losing 3-1. However, as he becomes more familiar with karate competitions and their rules, Deji will prove to be a handful.
Kumite – Veterans
Sensei Hurley was once again on the Mat, leading from the front. In the semi-finals he was drawn against a fellow competitor who has fought at European and World Level. The fight went the full distance and at the end Sensei Hurley stood level with his opponent on 2-2, the deciding factor was who had scored first in the bout, and this time Sensei Hurley would have to do with Bronze medal after his Gold in his last outing.
A long, hot day for both parents, competitors and coaches saw the squad come away with the following:
1 x Silver
3 x Bronze
The squad performed well on what was a high-level competition, with some of England’s best competitors in all section, and can be very proud of their efforts.