To celebrate the Academies 2nd Anniversary it played host to its first competition, known as `Taekwon-do Explosion 2001`.

Over eighty competitors whose instructors were invited specially travelled down to compete in the tournament. Interspersed throughout the day were special black belt challenge matches in continuous sparring format, over two rounds. This was to set the tone for the coloured belts & also give them some great displays throughout the day. Each black belt that competed in a challenge match entered the area to their own theme tune to add to the razzmatazz of the day.

To kick the day off (excuse the pun) Instructor Nick Sheehan IV (Watford TKD) fought Stuart Anslow III, the instructor of the Academy. As each entered the area they received a big applause from the eager crowd. Two rounds later, Stuarts hand was raised as the winner in what was a great starter for the event.

This led onto the first coloured belt division, the Junior White to Green Belt patterns (aged 11 years & under). Some fine performances shone through in what was a large division. The first gold medal (they were trophies actually) of the day went to Rayners Lane student Dev Patel following closely by to take the silver was Emma Matier (Woolwich TKD), the bronze being taken by Kevin Bell (also of Woolwich TKD).

Next was the Junior White to Green Belt Patterns (12 to 14 year olds). After a superb performance Alex Lemmisuier (Bracknell TKD) took the gold, with club mate Natalie Langley claiming the silver. Jason Grizzle (Rayners Lane TKD) took the bronze.

The next Black Belt Challenge match of the day took place, this time between 3 times GTI Champion Kam `the man` Bains entering the arena to `Who Let the Kam Out` !!! & British Gold & Bronze Medallist Derrick `the attitude` Clarke who entered the arena to `Unleash the Dragon`. After two rounds of good continuous action, Derrick was declared the winner.

The next patterns division taking place was the Blue & Red Belt Juniors. A fine performance put Arran Gregory (Bracknell TKD) into first place, with the silver taken by Toni Bennett (Rayners Lane TKD). The bronze position was drawn between Toni`s sister Zoe Bennett (Rayners Lane TKD) & Josh Harvey Atkinson (Edmonton TKD), so they were both awarded medals).

The senior patterns were up next. Because of the large number of entries they were split into two divisions. First up were the White Belts to Yellow Belt/Green Tag. This was won by Mark Fenton (Dulwich TKD). Silver was claimed by Lyndsey Reynolds (Rayners Lane TKD), with the bronze being taken by Jason Wylde (Maidstone TKD).

The third Black Belt Challenge match got under way, a heavyweight battle between British Bronze Medallist Delroy Coleman & Double British Gold Medallist Zak Espi.  These 90 kilo plus heavyweights sprung around the ring like the welterweights showing some fine Ariel techniques, one time knock referee Dave Martin right off his feet. After two rounds Zak was declared the winner.

The second division of the senior patterns were up. This was the Green Belts & Blue Tags. The gold was taken by Watfords Tara Aldwin, silver was claimed by Parvez Sultan (Rayners Lane) & the bronze by Mark Simpson (Bracknell TKD).

Following this the Senior Blue & red Belt patterns took place. After some good performances Esmond Francis (Edmonton TKD) took the gold, with club mate & girl friend Clarye Bennett taking the silver. The bronze was claimed by Michael Roche of London Panthers TKD.

The fourth Black belt Challenge Match took place. This time between British lightweight gold medallist Grant Codrington & English Gold medallist, light heavyweight, Michael O`Brien. The bout was intense, with Michael showing his superb front hooking & reverse turning kicks & grant flying about with spiral kicks, after two hard rounds the eventual outcome was declared a draw.

It was time to get the coloured belt sparring under way. The biggest division of the day was up first, the 8 to 11 year olds, White to Green belts. After many furious fights, the final was set to take place between two Rayners Lane students who had fought their way through. Lloyd Lewis faced Dev Patel in what was an enthralling final. The gold eventually went to Dev, with Lloyd having to settle for silver, the bronze medal being won by Emma Matier (Woolwich TKD). A special mention must go to Mohammed Hassan (London Panthers TKD) who fought well throughout the division, losing only in the 3rd place fight offs, but still smiling all the way.

Next was the 12 to 14 year olds turn to spar (White to Green Belts). Again a large division with some fine displays throughout. The medal winners all deserved their trophies. The gold went to Glen Tavernier of the London Panthers, silver went to Jason Grizzle (Rayners Lane), with the bronze won by Alex Lemissuier (Bracknell TKD).

A couple of the Black Belts couldn't make it on the day, so in order to give the crowd even more action, Watford Instructor Nick Sheehan IV fought again, this time against Edmonton Instructor Steve Austin IV, in the fifth Black Belt Challenge Match of the day. Nick entered to the cool James Bond theme music, while Steve entered with a face so serious it could raise the dead. The bout started & these two instructors both showed they still had it, with great combinations flying out in all directions. After the two rounds Steve was declared the winner.

This led onto the Adult Male (White to Green Belts) under 75 kilo's. This was won  by Eddie Lamma of the London Panthers, with Jason Steedham (Addlestone TKD) taking silver & Mark Fenton (Dulwich TKD) taking bronze. It must be mentioned that Mark travelled all the way from Kent on his own to compete & was rewarded for his efforts by going home with two trophies.

Next up was the White to Green Belt Female division. Some furious bouts took place with Lyndsey Reynolds (Rayners Lane TKD) winning gold, Giselle Keywoon (Addlestone TKD) getting silver & Sarah Ho (Watford TKD) scooping the bronze.

The sixth Black Belt Challenge Match took place next. Ahmad Farhad from Rayners Lane took on Alan Lui IV, instructor of Bracknell TKD, an old adversary of instructor Stuart Anslow. The bout was enthralling, with Ahmad attacking forward always & Alan showing some death defying Ariel techniques. The eventual outcome going to Alan.

This led onto Adult Male (White to Green Belts) over 75 kilo's. Mark Simpson (Bracknell TKD) fought well to claim the gold. Mark Cooper (Maidstone TKD) also fought well but settled for silver, bronze was won by Damion Buss (Maidstone TKD).

Next up was the Junior Red & Blue Belt Sparring (12 to 14 year olds). Some fine displays took place with Arran Gregory (Bracknell TKD) in fine form to win the gold. Silver was claimed by Carina Rodgers also from Bracknell, with Zoe Bennett (Rayners Lane TKD) & Josh Harvey Atkinson (Edmonton TKD) taking joint bronze position.

The final Black Belt Challenge Match of the day took place between English Silver Medallist, Vikram Gautam and Gary Smith (British Gold & Silver medallist). After two hard fought rounds, it was a close decision but Gary scooped it.

The Adult Male Blue & Red Belts, under 75 kilo's were up next. A number of competitors dropped out leaving Edmontons Mark Hudson to face Maidstone's Gary Bettsworth in a straight final. An interesting & hard fought bout took place, with the final result going to Mark & Gary taking the silver.

A number of dropouts in the Ladies Blue & Red Belt division unfortunately left Edmonton's Clayre Bennett without an opponent. The rules of the day declared Clayre the winner, but to claim her trophy she had to have a fight. In stepped instructor Alan Lui as her opponent. Clayre fought well, giving her all against Alan, and still shone even against this much higher ranked opponent. The bout finished, the score didn't matter as Clayre sportingly did what was required to claim her medal. Well done Clayre 

The final coloured belt division of the day took place. This being the Adult Red & Blue Belt Males, over 75 kilo's. Esmond Francis (Edmonton TKD) fought well to claim the gold, with Pedro Freixo (Kam Bains TKD) also fought well to claim the silver. Club mate to Pedro, Andy Mercer won the bronze.

Next up was the black belt divisions. A change from the norm left the black belts `Points Fighting` instead of their usual continuous. It made an interesting change. In the under 75 kilo's, Alan Lui (Bracknell TKD) fought Michael O`Brien (Addlestone TKD) to win the gold, with Michael taking silver. This left Stuart Anslow (Rayners Lane) to fight off against his own student, Ahmad Farhad for the bronze. Stuart claimed the bronze.

In the Over 75 kilo's division, Zak Espi (Woking TKD) fought well to claim the gold, with Delroy Coleman (Edmonton TKD) taking silver after a previously excellent round with instructor Kam Bains (one of the days highlights). Gary Smith fought well to claim the bronze position.

In the Black belt patterns, all black belts, regardless of grade, were restricted to choose a 1st or 2nd degree pattern. This was a big division, with 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th degrees all taking part. The finals came to a draw between Alan Lui IV & Gary Smith II. They both performed Chong-Jang again, but again drew. It was decided they should perform a coloured belt pattern to decide the gold & silver position. The judges choose Hwa-Rang Tul & this gave Gary the decision, leaving Alan with the silver. Bronze was won by Stuart Anslow (Rayners Lane TKD) with a good rendition of Gwang-Gae Tul.

The final event of the day was the Special Technical Destruction Division. This was won by Michael O`Brien, with a 360 degree jumping reverse turning kick air break to tiles. In the silver position was Stuart Anslow, with what was termed a flying rebound kick, where to `rebounded` off his own students back (standing up) to kick behind him to tiles. The bronze was won by Steve Austin who performed a reverse knifehand through a stack of `held` tiles. This was a well appreciated division.

With the day nearly over it was left to the referee's to decide who should claim the Best Competitors medals. Three names were put forward, but Tournament Host Stuart Anslow decided it was only fair all three should get a trophy. The students were Mohammed Hassan of the London Panthers, Dev Patel of Rayners Lane & Arran Gregory of Bracknell.

The day was a complete success judging by the comments received after & throughout the event. A couple of things were noticed here. First the level of contact in the junior divisions was superb, the worst injury being a clashed shin. This was partly due to the host insisting on touch contact only for juniors & the juniors listening to him. Also noted was that throughout the day not one competitor was seen coming off upset after losing a bout, smiles were the order of the day. Spectators commented on the whole atmosphere being tremendous & the music making it even better. The St Johns man in attendance commented on what an injury free competition it was. And what was the final tally, who cares as long as everyone had a great day & saw some fine Taekwon-do (but if you do care you can check out the results page).

As the host I would like to thank the following instructors & black belts for making it a superb day for everyone & judging/refereeing throughout the day. Thanks to Dave Martin (Instructor of East Peckham & Maidstone TKD), Steve Austin (Instructor of Edmonton TKD), Kam Bains (Instructor of Kam Bains School of Martial Arts), Patrick McCarthy & Ms Alverez (Instructors of The London Panthers), Nick Sheehan (Instructor of Watford & Abbots langley), Elliott Walker (Instructor of Woolwich), Mr Alan Lui (Instructor of Bracknell & Addlestone) and Anthony Calvert (Instructor of Woking).

Plus John O`Conner (Wembley TKD), Heather Papworth (Wembley TKD), Vikram Gautam (Wembley TKD), Ahmad Farhad (Rayners Lane TKD), Zak Espi (Woking TKD), Derrick Clarke (Wembley TKD), Delroy Coleman (Edmonton TKD), Gary Smith (Woking TKD), Michael O`Brien (Addlestone TKD) & Grant Codrington (Edmonton TKD) for all their help.

Also a big thanks must go to all those that manned the kitchen for the day, Julie Bishop, Claire Poulton, Anita Patel & Diana Bennett, who served tea, sandwiches & somas as all day long, Mr Pier Luigi from St Johns Ambulance and the D/J for all the tunes throughout the day.

Finally a big thanks to all the competitors for the fine attitudes shown throughout the day, proving to me, that no matter where you come from, the DO in Taekwon-do is not lost.