On Sunday 9th March 2008, 10 junior students for Rayners Lane TKD went to St Albans to compete at the South East Opens, which is hosted by Mr Chris Snow (5th Degree). For some the day started of very early at 7.30am meeting outside the Beacon Centre, to get a lift from fellow students/ parents.

Once there, the juniors all went off and got changed ready for the first event of the day; Patterns. This saw Mustafa Maxxamad win his first of 3 trophies, his 1st being bronze in the 6th to 4th Kup patterns. The other students did well but did not place, the nerves got the better of them as we had many juniors competing for the first time, but come later in the morning when the juniors had all woken up fullyand the sparring took place their trophies came flying in.

First up was Saphwat Simab (6th -4th Kup - 10 to 12 yrs) to win a sliver, and then up came Abihjay Sood (6th -4th Kup - 10 to 12 yrs) to win a bronze, shortly followed by Nikita Chavda (6th to 4th Kup - 10 to 12 yrs) to win bronze. After a short break the next lot of sparring was in full swing and this saw Sherya Shah (10th - 7th Kup -10 to 12yrs) win bronze in her first competition. Wesley Maunders was next up in the 10th to 7th Kup - 10 to 12yrs 147cm and over, and he came out on top to win a Gold. Next up was Luke Fox, this to was his first time at competition, but this did not put Luke off as he won Gold in the 10th to 7th Kups 10 to 12 yrs 146cm and under. The last fight of the day for the juniors came from Mustafa Maxxamad, who took Gold in the 6th to 4th Kup - 10 to 12yrs 146cm and under, and to top of his day cam first and received first place in the flying high kick for all grades - 8 to 10 yrs olds.

-- Above report by Kate

One good thing about arriving later in the day for a tournament is that you can prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. Some like to have a lie in on the morning and replenish their energy levels, while others mentally visualize themselves performing their patterns or cleanly breaking a board with perfect technique. Rumour has it that Doun likes to get ready for a competition by staring at a blank wall for ten hours in a head stand.

He and I arrived at the South East Opens following our 376-mile picturesque detour to discover that our Little Dragons from Rayners Lane had not needed any extra rest or preparation. They had racked up a respectable set of medals and by the looks of it would have had to plough through a heavy field of eager young Taekwon-do practitioners to get on any of the podiums. Naturally, any signs of success served to further motivate us adults in trying to at least emulate our younger academy members - which may explain why we found Doun performing one-arm chin-ups in the girl's changing room shortly after arrival.

Rayners Lane was defending its title as overall club winner again and although the academy surrendered its trophy to a rampant Aldershot in the end, some of its members excelled themselves to ensure that the club finished the day in an honourable second place.

Special mention must go to our white belt competitors, who made a great impression in their divisions. Aaron Bennett displayed his considerable talents to take a well deserved gold medal in the 10th to 7th kup adult male sparring division. He had to navigate his way through some tight contests, including an incredibly nail-biting extra-time session in his semi-final (? Not sure if that's correct?), but his focus and clean technique saw him eventually take the top prize in a tough field.

Philip Skidmore again showed much promise on the day, winning gold in the destruction event for 10th to 7th kups and silver in the equivalent patterns division. Phil's attitude and determination were an example to everyone, especially the way he managed to ignore Doun as he sprinted around the sports hall 25 times to 'warm up' for his divisions.

Further up the grades, Richard Baker showed good timing and footwork to make his way to the final of the sparring division for 6th to 4th kups. Having fought a number of times to get there, he met a very solid and tall opponent who just managed to pip Richard to the gold medal, but many were left with the impression that if that had been the first contest for Richard, the outcome may well have been different. As it may have been for Doun, who nearly missed his first bout as he was trying to bench press a truck in the car park when his name was first called. By the time he got his gear on and went into battle, he weary body was too shattered to make any impression and went down to a fresher opponent.

Kate Barry continued to add to her impressive tournament record with a very decent display in both patterns - in which she secured silver in the 6th to 4th kups group - and sparring, which saw her narrowly lose out in the final. Her achievement grows greater when one considers that she could not have been operating anywhere near 100% due to her continuing rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury.

Still in shock from watching Doun attempting to perform burpees with two sets of 20kg dumbbells on his back, Marek Handzel was well beaten by a slick opponent in the sparring and unfortunately failed to make any impression with his pattern having added a few extra moves to Toi-Gye, which he blames on having beforehand caught a glimpse of Doun hanging off a rail on the ceiling of the hall by his feet as he rattled off a few sit-ups to kill some time.

Lyndsey Reynolds showed everyone on the day that she deserves her chance to grade for her black belt by blitzing her way to the final in the female black belt sparring division only to be thwarted by a fellow competitor whose reach gave her a distinct advantage. Lyndsey fought valiantly and forced the issue and can be proud of her silver medal - again enforcing her presence as a fighter many would like to avoid.

Mr. Avis came up against a competitor who had not understood (or chose to ignore) the light contact rule in the black belt sparring division. Nevertheless, he was a formidable fighter and Mr. Avis just ran out of time as he belatedly began to alter his tactics and make some headway against his opponent's fearsome sidekick. He may have only secured bronze in that division but Mr. Avis made some way to make amends by winning the flying high kick contest for the black belts.

Mr. Anslow managed to stamp his mark on another South East Opens with a well-earned gold medal in the black belt veteran's division and a bronze in the patterns for the 3rd to 5th degrees, even managing to remember his moves and avoid a mind-blank by the look of things! (:)

All in all, a good day for the Academy with some notable performances with all our competitors - winners and losers - showing the correct attitude throughout.

Congratulations should also go to Doun who managed to get back to Rayners Lane in under four hours after deciding to run back home bare foot following his 'disappointing' day.

Once again the event was excellant and well hosted. Well done and thank you to the host Mr Smith, LTSI Chief Instructor Mr Snow and everybody involved.
A Humourous Report
South East Opens 2008

Report by Marek Handzel & Kate Barry
South East Opens 2008

Report by Marek Handzel & Kate Barry