On Sunday 28th November, students from Rayners Lane & Wembley travelled to Kent to compete in Kick It '99: The Millennium Event. The event was a medium sized affair & I'm told it had nearly 200 competitors, that had travelled from all around the country to compete, including some from Master Hee Il Cho's organisation & Master Juins clubs.

All together we entered 14 competitors, but it whittled down to 11 on the day. Stuart had organised for a mini bus to get everyone down there, which was driven by Craig, who did an outstanding job all day, for which Stuart was very grateful.

The days events started with the Junior White & Yellow belt patterns. This division alone had over twenty competitors and students Jade Harris and Toni Bennett won a silver medal each, with Christopher Hopkins scooping the Bronze. Jade, who is only 7 had the dubious honour of being the very first competitor of the day to step onto the mat to show her stuff, so did exceptionally well. Also up in the patterns were Michael Bennett, Lauren Read, Lloyd Lewis & Zoe Bennett. Both Lloyd & Zoe had a bash at performing their new patterns that they had only recently been taught & still performed admirably.

Next it was the turn of Kate to have a go at patterns in the Ladies yellow belts, but them walking stances were still to short. Jumping on a bit pass the Green & Blue belt patterns we arrived at the Red belt patterns division. This was interestingly enough a mixed division (as were all the pattern events) and Vikram had to face Heather plus the others. Unfortunately Vikram had to perform Hwa-Rang, but still managed a silver medal. It was split for the bronze between Heather & a few others from Edmonton & they were all told to perform Toi-Gye which threw a lot of them off. But Heather stormed through to pick up the bronze for Wembley.

In an interesting twist (the first of the day). The patterns events finished with the black belts. As there were some high grade black belts there & not enough higher graded judges (the highest being a fourth degree) all the black belts were told they had to perform a 1st degree pattern. After an initial rush of nerves, Stuart chose to do Kwang-Gae as it was possibly the most ingrained 1st degree pattern in his memory, having been the first one he learnt when he turned black belt. Doing this pattern on mats was difficult because of the slow sliding movements, but he performed okay (well a little nervously) to draw for 1st place, against the noted patterns guy Robin Ford. They had both done Kwang-Gae & were asked to perform again. Stuart came off worse this
time & had to settle for the silver.

At this point there was a short break with an interesting Hapkido demonstration & a destruction demo by one of Hee Il Cho's black belts. Then it was onto the sparring (2 minute rounds). First up this time for a change,
were the black belt divisions. Stuart was first up (nothing changes) and (hopefully) beat his opponent convincedly. In the other semi final one of the competitors retired himself after only 15 seconds, complaining that his opponent was too excessive in the contact department. This meant that the final fight off would see a tired Stuart against a non-tired opponent, who was a very capable fighter anyway.

Anyway, the final started & Stuart tired quickly (more fitness work needed next time), but he managed to fend off those reverse turning kicks & end the fight in a draw. With extra time in effect, they fought again, with the final decision going to Stuarts opponent. So Stuart got a silver, but even the ref said he thought he had won it. Oh well, that's how it goes.

Then it was onto the coloured belts with some exception fights & fine performances all round. Again these divisions were pretty large. In the Girls Junior divisions (low & middle), Jade was giving a good fight, but was
unfortunately beaten by a slightly taller opponent, even taking quite a hard turning kick to the head without even a wince (although it made me wince). Lauren & Toni fought courageously in a few fights, but didn't make it to the medal positions, Toni got winded quite badly by one opponent. Zoe unfortunately had to drop out of sparring because she had hurt her foot earlier on.

In the Boys Junior Low Division Lloyd Lewis fought some fine fights, about four in total, finally fighting off for third place and gaining the bronze medal. In the Junior Middle division Christopher Hopkins found himself to be one of the smallest competitors after seemingly being entered in the wrong division, but with some tactical fighting and advice from Stuart & Vic, he fought up to the final to claim his second medal of the day (a silver), taking out some good fighters on the way. It was deja vu in the Junior high division, with Michael Bennett finding himself to be one of the smallest competitors, with some opponents towering over him by a foot. Even so, with some great fighting he fought all the way up to the quarter finals before finally having to drop out due to receiving kick to the leg which made it a bit hard to continue, which was ashame because he really deserved a medal for the way he fought.

While all this was going on, Kate Barry was fighting in the adult coloured belt division (white to green belt) and stormed through a number of fights to fight it off in the finals, claiming some excellent victories along the way, before settling for the silver medal after fighting an experienced & talented fighter from Mr. Austins school, in what can only be described as a close technical fight.

Then it was onto the adults. Imran Dawood had his first taste of competition in the adult white to green belts (lightweights). After giving a strong performance in which the judging seemed rather harsh, he had to put this
down to experience & accept defeat, hopefully learning a thing or two along the way.

The last fighter up was Vickram, in the mens middleweight red belts. Having seen off his first opponent with relative ease, he then faced a slightly harder fight, but as always, Vik came through & won this fight to get into the finals, which was to be against Mark from Edmonton. This was a good fight that was pretty evenly  matched. Vik was initially slow in starting up, but half way through he went into super spin kick mode. At the final whistle both fighters had split lips from an earlier trading of blows, but unfortunately it wasn't his day for gold & he had to settle for silver. This now makes a tally of one all between Mark & Vik, who both finished with a smile.

The day finished off with the last few fights & then the presentation of the medals. During the day each club had their photos taken by the official photographer as did the medal winners. Another funny thing that went on
that day was that Stuart was repeatedly approached by juniors and asked to sigh some of the boards that were broken earlier in the day, making him a minor celebrity (but it did make the parents chuckle at his embarrassment).

As a final twist to the day, Student Lauren Read was awarded a Good Competitors medal for her fine performances throughout the day.

All in all this was a good competition. In some ways it tougher than association ones as you really don't know who your up against until your in there slugging it out. Everybody gave a fine performance that day. Out of the
11 entries, the clubs brought home 12 medals, which is quite a haul. Next time however, we'll all hopefully step up a gear to claim a few more golds to make everyone's medal collection a bit more colourful.
Kick It `99: The Millennium Event
November 28th, 1999