Licence….. Check. Ticket….. Check. Sparring Kit….. Check. Water…... Check.

And off we went  towards the 2007 South East Opens. The car park was just starting to fill up when we got there. Being our first visit we were not sure what to expect. As we entered the hall, we realised that this was going to be bigger than what we had imagined. The place was abuzz with excitement and energy and this was just from the parents. The junior contestants who were going to be taking part were in a state of flux, experiencing  emotions ranging from curiosity, excitement to butterflies.

On entering the hall we saw Mr Anslow, Vikram Sr, Parvez and Colin from Rayners Lane Taekwon-Do Academy, who would be acting as referees throughout the day, as well as competing later on. As we looked around we could see Charlotte Fox and her parents sitting next to Milad and Masoud Hamed and their mum. Realising that this was the Rayners Lane outpost, we made a beeline for it. We had just got over the greetings, when announcements started being made. The competition was about to commence.  

While the organisers were trying to separate the juniors into their appropriate categories, Charlotte's parents talked to us about their experience during last years visit. We then discussed and agreed that Rayners Lane was a very good club, as not only did it have a good ethos and taught good martial arts, but it also engendered a feeling of belonging, mutual respect and  friendship between members. We all felt that this was to a large part due to Mr Anslow's character and work ethic, as well as what values he wanted the club to have.

The first category was the Patterns Division. As luck would have it, the ring immediately next to us contained some of the Rayners Lane students. However when we did a head count, we realised we were missing a few and wondered if they had arrived yet. A quick visual search ensued but none of the missing student could be seen. As the proceedings were about to start, a few of the last remaining Rayners Lane students turned up and everybody heaved a sigh of relief.

The students were called out in pairs and asked to callout the pattern they would be performing. They were then judged against the individual who they had been called out with. It was an impressive sight, as you saw youngsters; some as young as 6 years perhaps, stand up and perform in the ring while their peers, judges and parents watched their moves with keen interest. It takes a lot of courage to be able to do that, especially when you are that age. Some of the Rayners Lane students made it to the final round which was good to see as for most it was their very first tournament..

The second category was the Sparring Division, which requires a different set of criteria to be applied for separating the contestants. This resulted in Avinash Bakshi, Masoud Hamed and Milad Hamed being moved to the ring at the other end of the hall, while Charlotte Fox and Umar Marikar remained in the same ring that was next to us. Saphaa Simab and brother Saphwat Simab also remained in their original ring which was in the middle of the hall. As the competition progressed, the Rayners Lane parents started getting excited as it looked as if some of the team members might get into a medal position. Sure enough, when the results were in, Rayners Lane had picked up 2 Silvers and 2 Bronze. We were on a roll.

The third and final category for the youngsters was the Jumping Side Kick. Most of our junior members took part and got through the first three rounds.  Even though we did not win any medals in this division, the members certainly enjoyed taking part.

I would like to conclude by saying that it was a very worthwhile day for all concerned, especially for the junior members. Not only has it reinforced their sense of belonging to Rayners Lane but it has also engendered a greater sense of team spirit. This could easily be seen by the yells of delight and encouragement they gave to each other during the course of the competition.
(Reported by Mr Bakshi, parent of Avinash Bakshi)

Following short break the black belts started preparing for their divisions. As usual it was black belt patterns first; these were started off by the 4th and 5th Dans. Mr Snow V was up first and preformed a very nice rendition of Moon-Moo tul, where he was able to show his excellent kicking technique. He was followed by Mr Anslow IV who performed an equally good rendition of Ul-Ji tul which showed his power and attention to detailed technique. The winner of this event by a small margin was Mr Snow, Mr Anslow received 2nd Place

The next patterns division was the 1st to 3rd Dans. Here Mr Sultan & Mr Avis performed their 1st degree patterns (Ge-Baek tul) and Mr Gautam performed his 2nd Degree pattern Eui-Am. This division was well attended and despite the great performances of the Rayners Lane Black Belts they were unable to place themselves.

Next was the Veterans Black Belts Sparring, the sparing was rougher than expected but after the first few fights Mr Anslow was up, but then sat down again as his first opponent failed to materialise. The next round came and Mr Anslow finally got a chance to fight. He showed great skill fighting a tough opponent from the LTSI (Mr Moore), pitting his kicking skills against Mr Moores great hand skills (both could kick/punch also). As the bell went, Mr Anslow was declared the winner. After seeing the other semi-finalist dispatch an equally good fighter the final was on. The final was a close bout with both opponents showing good techniques, which were clean and controlled. Despite this being the Veterans division, Mr Anslow pulled off many good techniques throughout his bouts, such as difficult jump reverse turning kicks which are usually the territory of the younger guys.. showing everyone age isn't an obstacle for good Taekwon-do. The bell went on the final round and everyone waited on the result which was undoubtedly a close decision. Mr Anslows hand was raised and he was declared the winner of the LTSI first ever veterans division.

Whilst the under 75kg black belts competed on ring 3, over on ring 1 the Over 75kg black belt sparring was underway or which Rayners Lane had three entries in. Again Mr Sultan, Mr Avis and Mr Gautam were all in the same division. First to fight was Mr Sultan, who fought tremendously well against his first opponent Mr Ian Smith II, (who incidentally beat him at the LTSI Invitationals in 2006). Mr Sultan won by a 2 to 1 referee decision in a great bout. Next to fight was Mr Gautam, who after over a year out of competitive competition due to injury fought well against his opponent and won. The next round saw Mr Sultan go against Mr Snows student who had a large weight and height advantage over Mr Sultan. Mr Sultan again put up a great fight and show of tactics which him leading the bout, however his skilled opponent managed pull the bout around leaving Mr Sultan to lose out in what was a very close fight.  Next to fight in the semi-finals were Mr Avis and Mr Gautam. Both competitors again put up very good show of technical ability and well executed strikes. Mr Avis did very well in what was his first time in the black belt divisions and pulled out some great techniques (one of which was a jump back kick that caught Mr Gautam head), but Mt Gautam showed fine form with his own techniques, catching Mr Avis on the jaw with a turning kick which nearly knocked Mr Avis out. The bout over and only by a small margin did Mr Gautam win that round.  Next was the final round, here Mr Gautam had to face the competitor who had beat Mr Sultan earlier on. Everyone who fought this competitor from Mr Snow's class knew they would be in for a hard fight considering the height, build and skills of this guy and the fact he has come from a full contact fighting background and was still transitioning. Mr Gautam and his opponent fought well again, and despite being nearly knocked out, Mr Gautam lost his final round fight. In sparring Mr Avis and Mr Sultan received joint 3rd place and Mr Gautam received 2nd place.

Last was the Destruction event. The black belts had range of techniques to execute including flying side kick, 360 degree back kick and multiple breaks (back kick, side kick, turning kick and Reverse knife hand). One point was awarded for each one of the four breaks. The hardest technique to break on was the reverse knife hand, which only Mr Anslow and another black belt from Nicholls clubs was able to break with. This was a very strict round where each competitor had to start in guarding stance, complete their break, and end in guarding stance. It was due to this strict rule that Mr Gautam did not qualify for one of his techniques (back kick). Mr Avis and Mr Sultan also did not amount enough breaks to qualify for the next round, which was won by Mr Anslow.

The second breaking technique was the 360 degree back kick. This was again well attended by the black belts. Being such a difficult technique to do, many competitors were unable to break, either down to lack of power, speed or precision. All of the Rayners Lane black belt attempted this technique but only Mr Anslow was able to perform it correctly on the day
(Reported by Mr Gautam,2nd degree)

As the black belts were in another area doing their destruction techniques the adult coloured belt sections started up. Rayners Lane had 10 students participating in this section. The afternoon started off with the patterns division. In the lower belt divisions Mohammed Sekanderzada took the Gold Medal after beating off some good competitors, but unfortunately we didn't fair as well in the senior belt patterns (in which most of our adult students were in) in what was a large division with over 56 competitors. Everyone gave good accounts of themselves and some were unlucky not to place in the final 3, but that's how it goes. Following on from the patterns was the Sparring. First up was the 13 to 15 year old sections. This saw Omid Sekanderzada  taking Gold after a fair few fights in the 6th to 4th kup divsion. Ajmal Naqshbandi also had a few fights in the yellow belt division in what was his his first ever competition and went home with a Bronze.

Next up was the adults (16+) yellow belts and below, and for Jose De Figueiredo (age 44) this was also his first competition and he did excellently, taking on many younger guys to take the silver.  Next up was the Green to Blue belt ladies division where Kate Barry took sliver after having some tough a few rounds. Dennis Potipako who after some hard fights in the males 6th to 4th kup section, took the silver in a close final, whilst on the other side of the arena Prez Fadrowski took the gold in the red belt divisions.

With the main sparring almost complete coloured belt students entered the destruction section of the tournaments. In these sections Dennis Potipako won his second medal of the day for the flying side kick and almost won a third, narrowly missing out on the back kick break which came down to weight, after numerous rounds.

Right at the end of the day when many had gone home or were falling asleep after a long day it was finally time for the coloured belt "King of the Ring" section. This was a tough division, with some good fighters, and it was Prez Fadrowski who took his second gold of the day and making it a hatrick for Rayners Lane in this section, having secured a win by a Rayners Lane student at every event since it started (Mr Anslow has also won the Black belt King of the Ring three times ina  row before he stood down also). Lyndsey Sainsbury and Marek Handzel also competed at the competiton but it was not their day for glory but they gave a good account of themselves and fought well in some hard hitting bouts as Mareks eye can attest to. Over all it was a good day, Rayners Lane did well and earned enough points to win the area title against some pretty good squads.
(Reported by Kate Barry, 4th Kup)

Rayners Lane Taekwon-do Academy would like to thank Mr Chris Snow, Mr Stuart Smith, Mr Ian Smith and all the LTSI instructors for another great event.

Email received following the event:

Dear Mr. Anslow,
I would like to express my pride of belonging to Rayners Lane Academy. From the very beginning of the competition, we could clearly see that the commitment of the whole group with the tournament was heart touching. Some other academies have more loose criteria with their grading system, many young black belts not being fully prepared and commited with the tenants of Taekwon-do. Our competitors were better prepared than the others, to win and to lose. Eduardo was a little disappointed initially when he lost his points because of the harsh play and lost his first ever fight. However, he was able to understand the principles behind this and was happy to appreciate the achievements of his friends and team mates. I am 44 years old, and this was my first Taekwon-do competition. For my surprise, and thanks to my son and mates' support, I got a second place with a sweet taste of victory; I was able to cope with 5 fights, all my adversaries being about half my age (maybe less). I took on board the lessons in class, and I was confident that the preparation was serious and thorough. When I saw Mr. Anslow fighting and winning the first place, applying the moves of a master, I was proud of it. I was even prouder to see the Rayners Lane as the winning academy of this tournment.The team work made all the difference. I would like to share my content with all the students and parents of Rayners Lane academy, for learning anything in depth is always facilitated by the examples from our instructors and seniors.
Thanks for that and when I can walk accordingly I will be back to the trainings... I want Eduardo and myself doing good in June, no matter if we win or lose.
All the best and congratulations,
Jose Figueiredo

South East Opens 2007

Report by Mr Bakshi (Parent), Kate Barry & Vikram Gautam
South East Opens 2007

Report by Mr Bakshi (Parent), Kate Barry & Vikram Gautam
More to follow