In September of this year , myself and five others of the Rayners lane Taekwon-do Academy , competed in the first ever open world martial arts championship , I was very lucky to be invited , to such a prestigious event, and I couldn't wait.

I spent the evening thinking about what i had been invited to - and also what i had let myself in for! My first tournament, would be a world class tournament ,where i would be demonstrating what little skill i had in front of world class fighters , and Philosophers of the art itself , so many people were going to be there , and  I had never competed in a tournament before . From then on , I had constant nerves about the event and at the event - but I still really wanted to go.

We travelled to Ireland the day before the championships began , only two of the five travelling  had ever been on a plane before, which was great for Mr. Anslow , as he had to deal with all of us moaning and panicking before we got onto the plane , a three hour wait however we soon all discovered it wasn' t quite as bad as we all thought .

The championships  had been my fear and ambition at the same time. I had managed to convince myself that i was not going to win anything - on the grounds that it was a  World Championship  and I was a mere ninth Kup , just starting to learn about the art , therefore just being part of the event was an honour in itself. The tournament was presented by grandmaster Hee Il Cho , founder of the A.I.M.A.A., and has devoted forty years of his life to his art , has many Tae kwon -do schools in America , England and Ireland , and has
even starred in films.

The first day consisted of Patterns , an official opening of the tournament , and point sparring  Kate , Toni , Zoe and myself competed in the patterns competitions , and  I can safely say , mine was one of the most nerve racking moments in my life , to stand , watched by a panel of judges, and the rest of the competitors scrutinising my every move , for me  to even complete the pattern was a good enough achievement, even though I practically ran off the mat ! Kate ( sixth Kup ) preformed her pattern with confidence and expertise,
she did' t run off the mat like I did !! Toni and Zoe despite their age and belts ( both sixth Kup and sisters ) were split into separate divisions , because the divisions were so large , and again , their experience of being in many competitions shone through , they were all very unlucky not to place for medals.

The Grand opening of the tournament featured video extracts of Grandmaster Hee Il Cho's stunning achievements in Tae Kwon-do and clips of his own published videos. I personally had not known of the Grandmaster's prestige until I saw these and the incredible welcome he received from the Tournament hosts. The extract of where he extinguishes a cigarette a lady is smoking blindfolded, then breaks two boards afterwards , was very memorable , and a testimony to his proficiency in his art.

The second part of the first day was the point sparring for which Mr. Anslow , Mr. O'Connor , Kate , Zoe and myself competed. Zoe put up a lightening performance in her sparring division,  Kate was fantastic , picking up a bronze medal in her sparring division , to be able to say shes a world bronze medallist is amazing , and it was surely well deserved . Mr. Anslow , achieved a silver medal in his division , an achievement to be treasured at such a high level as third dan black belt.

I then had my turn for the points sparring. My adrenaline had kicked in moments before the and I didn't know what was happening , I nearly chocked in the gum-shield as i felt unnatural breathing with it  , however,
that got easier, and I tried to treat it as free light contact sparring in the Dojang, however , it didn't turn out that way , after winning my first fight  I settled down and started concentrating a bit more , then I won the second, I couldn't believe what was happening, I was fighting in the finals, however I lost that fight but that didn't matter at all I was so pleased that I had won a silver medal, it felt so great.

The second day held the continuous sparring , and destruction tournaments, Kate again competed in the destruction, and was unlucky , the competition in that division was incredibly fierce. Mr. O'Connor became a world bronze medallist in destruction, and Mr. Anslow picked up another medal , this time Gold in a special destruction division

The final day was devoted to Black belt team finals in sparring, presentations and demonstrations from the many Masters of the art who were there, my personal favourite was a demonstration performed by Master Ameris , showing the principle of self defence and the ending - where he smashed a wooden baseball bat with his shin - his attempt to show he was in no pain what so ever was incredibly funny.

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this first world open championships ........ there will only be one of those , and I am so honoured to have been part of it .

by Lyndsey Sainsbury