St. George's day saw students from Rayners Lane Taekwon-do Academy travel a short way to St. Albans to attend this year's South East Opens. This competition, now the third one held by Lions Taekwon-do Schools is fast becoming an established event and is now hailed as 'the one to win' in the South East, with many competitor traveling great distances to attend (this year some even came from Ireland).

Due to the success of previous competitions this year's divisions were large and highly contested with many impressive entrants from a number of established and highly acclaimed schools and organizations. This year saw the event grow to allow over 300 competitors to battle it out.

The competition kicked off with the patterns, initially the black belt divisions (we were even traeated to a viewing of Tong Il tul), followed by the junior and then senior coloured belts. These divisions, which took the form of a knock out contest, were larger than the sparring divisions (which were large anyway) with different schools showing their interpretations of the Chang Hon patterns. In all there some excellent displays and some unlucky decisions but that is the difficulty with judging patterns in an ITF Open competitions.

With a little disappointment in the camp due to a lack of medals in the morning, we were eager to get in the ring and show everyone we could spar, not least young Adnan Said who was pestering everyone for when his division was going to begin. When the sparring got underway we began to slowly increase our medal count with Abhijay Sood scooping a bronze in the 6th - 4th Kup 8-9 year olds sparring division after throwing some impressive combinations. Fayaz Latifi brought home gold in his sparring division for 3rd -1st Kup 13-15 year olds after fighting some tough competitors. Marek Handzel continued in the same vain, achieving a bronze in the 6th - 4th Kup adult sparring whilst Vijay Sood took some punishment in the same division. Vijay, winning a bout following an earlier injury was again injured after some over the top contact left his eye badly swollen and he had to pull out whilst ahead on points. Late in the afternoon, it was finally the more seniors turn with David Lane picking up a bronze in the 3rd - 1st Kups adult sparring, making an exit after fighting the eventual winner of the division.

During the day we saw some impressive bouts in the black belt divisions with the newly promoted black belts from Rayners Lane testing the waters for the first time, which, although they didn't place, they held their own admirably with some of the winners who themselves are European, Continental and World champions I believe and I'm sure things will be different in future events.

As the evening drew near Rayners Lane students won some more golds due to their consistent
perseverance. The 'King Of The Ring' divisions began with my instructor Mr Anslow IV beating rated
fighters like Shane Fitzgibbons V from Ireland (IUTF) and Mr Johann De Silva IV of the Imperial
Taekwon-do Association to the crown for the third year running after an enthralling and tense final with a
very good black belt whose name I didn't manage to catch . Mr. Anslow also managed to win the black
belt power destruction division (which involved not 1 but 4 breaking techniques through those incredibly
hard red boards). The Instructors challenge was an interesting event and saw rounds of patterns,
sparring and then destruction taking place. Mr Anslow won his first round in the patterns part then beat
Mr. Paul Cain IV in the sparring section to take him into the final where he was pipped at the post by
Mr Fitzgibbons from Ireland in destruction, in what was, all in all, an interesting section to the event. I
have to say, considering Mr Anslow doesn't train for tournaments anymore and had to be convinced to
even compete by the events organizer he did remarkably well but even so he said the highlight of his
day was meeting Mr Fitzgibbons rather than any of his medal victories.

The adult coloured belt 'King Of The Ring' title went to Colin Avis 1st Kup after winning several hard
rounds of sparring which meant the title stayed with Rayners Lane. Since the competition began Rayners
Lane has won all the adult 'King Of The Ring' titles, which is an impressive statistic. Colin also managed
to win gold in the power destruction division with a decisive back kick.

Omid Sekanderzada, in his first competition managed to win the special technique division which was
open to all coloured belt grades, in which competitors had to execute a flying high kick. This after
winning a bronze in sparring, well done a great performance considering he is only a 9th kup.

Congratulations also to those who competed but were unfortunate not to place. Well done Mr. Dev Patel, Mr. Parvez Sultan and Mr. Tomasz Kubicki who fought in the black belt divisions for the first time and also to Lloyd Lewis, Priya Shah, Abdi Yassin, Joe Lewis, Krishan Singhal, Richard Simon, Charlotte Fox and Adnan Said who I'm sure enjoyed and learned from their experiences. Hopefully next year will be even better and we can take a few more students and Rayners Lane to victory.

Overall Rayners Lane won a total of 6 golds and 5 bronze medals, which isn't bad for a single school, especially considering our bad start to the day. Its ashame the points from the 'King of the Ring' divisions are not added to the final totals as it means Rayners lane would have placed even higher on the overall schools board, but even so we came in about 6th against 26 schools, some of which, I hate to say, bend the rules to suit by entering multiple schools as one (meaning they tally more medals and affect the final totals) amongst other ways, something which I feel goes totally against the tenets of Taekwon-do but is understandably hard for the organizer to catch, so I am happy to come 6th knowing that we got there fair and square!

Despite the above, Mr Snow V and his team do an incredible job in organizing and running the event which I know Mr Anslow, myself and my fellow students from Rayners Lane appreciate, so I would like to thank Mr Snow, Mr Smith and the rest of the Lions team for organizing another brilliant event which I'm sure will just get better and better in future years.
South East Opens 2006
by Colin Avis, 1st kup

South East Opens 2006
by Colin Avis, 1st kup

Mr Anslow with Mr Fitzgibbons from Ireland