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The date had arrived for this years Taekwon-do Explosion. Taekwon-doists from around the country travelled down to Lil` Ole Rayners Lane in order to compete in this yearly tournament. The buzz was there as the spectators & competitors entered the Academy, this was heightened when the music started, adding to the razzmatazz & soon, like last year the Academy was packed out.

Soon however the music silenced, as did the crowd, as the days events started. Academy instructor & tournament host Mr Stuart Anslow made a short speech to the crowd & asked for a one minute silence out of respect for the passing of General Choi.

Then the competition kicked off with a demo bout by Academy instructor Stuart Anslow & fellow black belt Allister Liew, over two rounds & setting the trend with some high flying, explosive combinations. This set the tone for the event, one of skill, grace & exciting Taekwon-do techniques. With trophies worth winning, the patterns, sparring & destruction divisions lay ahead; these were to be interspersed with further black belt demonstration bouts throughout the day.

First division of the day were the junior patterns, 8 to 11 year olds. Eager to get their hands on some rather nice (and distinct) trophies the youngsters showed some fine displays of the ITF tuls. The first division & trophy of the day was claimed by Jenny Beardwood from the ETS (English Taekwon-do Schools). The second division of the day saw the older youngsters competing in what was the largest patterns division of the event. After drawing with a few other fine performances in the first round, the gold eventually went to home dojang student, Dev Patel.

Next up in the junior divisions were the senior grades of red & blue belts, Joe Andreous from the LTA (London Taekwon-do Academy) & Jason Willson from the ETS both gave fine performances, but were piped at the post by Reanna Nash, also from the ETS.

In the adult divisions, the junior grades all showed some exceptional performances. Taking the gold with his rendition of Dan-Gun was Peng Zhang of Rayners Lane, but this was only claimed after two extra rounds where he was up against London Panthers student Pasquialino Alesi, Rayners Lanes own Amittai Antione & David Lane (also RLTKD). In the senior grade adult division James Odell of the London Panthers gave an exceptional performance against some fine competition.

Black belts Farhad Ahmad & Allister Liew gave the second demo bout of the day. Again, two rounds of continuous sparring, which saw Allister flying high against Farhads fast leg comboís.

A short break was in order as the Academy was set up to accommodate the brand new, QP-Sport Queen Of Taekwon-do Division. This section was for the ladies & open to all grades from yellow belt (8th kup) upwards. In each round the competitors competed against each other in sparring, patterns & destruction (thatís just one round!). First they had to spar against each other, where they either won, drew or lost to claim points. Then they faced each other again with their patterns, again to win, draw or lose to claim points, finally each competitor had to perform a breaking technique for points against two boards. But what made this division so tough (apart from the previous) was that each round the competitors had to choose a different pattern & attempt a different destruction technique against the boards.

As the saying goes `There can only be one` & so it was there was a single, but very nice, trophy, to be claimed only by the eventual Queen Of Taekwon-do, but what the competitors didnít know was that those that took up this momentous challenge all won a QP-Sport Maxi Guard worth £30, which were kindly supplied by the tournaments sponsor, QP-Sport, all the way from New Zealand (Details of their brilliant products can be found by visiting their website at www.qp-sport.co.nz or via the Rayners Lane website). Kylie Johncock, a black belt from the ETS was eventually crowned Queen, with Lyndsey Colindale (RLTKD) & Taman Lally (KBSOMA) giving her a tough time all the way.

After the crowning ceremony it was nearly time for the eagerly awaited sparring divisions. But first was another demo bout between Academy instructor Stuart Anslow & his own student Farhad Ahmad. Both gave an exciting two round fight & reminded all students that skill, technical ability & speedy combinations are the corner stone of taekwon-do sparring & not knocking each other all about the ring.

All coloured belt sparring was in continuous format. Again, first up for sparring were the junior grades, 8 to 11 year olds. All junior sparring of this group adhered to the non-contact rules, but they still displayed some fine techniques.  There were some outstanding fights en-route to the finals between Gorka Paz (LP) & Emmelle Wilson-Raymond (RLTKD), Aman Gill (KBSOMA) & Krishan Tank (RLTKD), Aikikur Rahman (LTA) & Jordan Wilcock (LP), plus many others. The gold eventually being won, after many hard fought rounds by Aikikur Rahman from the London Taekwon-do Academy, who fought Daniel Darwin (LP) in a rip roaring final.

The skills on display in the next junior grade division (12 to 14 year olds) had to be seen, to be believed. The gold was eventually won by Firooz Nadiree of Rayners Lane, taking on no less than 5 opponents on the way to victory. Sorrelle Morris (LTA) gave a fine performance, taking out some tough opponents on the way to the finals. Little Kanai brand gave a good performance, taking on & defeating club mate Jessica Mcleod in an exciting fight. Samantha Barnett (ETS) fought well, as did Stewart Morris (LTA), but none could stop the all spinning Firooz in his quest for the gold.

In the senior grade junior divisions, Jason Willson of the ETS fought extremely well to claim his gold, beat Joe Andreous in a good fight on the way.

Between the youngsters & the adults, female black belts Kylie Johncock & Manick Guicheron gave a fine display of controlled aggression in their demo bout. Both looked tough opponents to face if you should ever come across them.

In the adult Junior Grade under 75KG division, it was an all Rayners Lane sweep. The high kicking Amittai Antione had a tough fight straight off against Justin Goh, then facing Peng Zhang finally to face David Lane in the finals, whom himself had come up against fellow club mate Colin Avis on his side of the table. The final was enthralling with David scoring a lovely hook kick, but it was enough to thwart the all kicking Amittai.

The female junior grade adult division was just as tough. With some exception semi-finals between Rayners Lane & KBSOMA (Kam Bains School Of Martial Arts) students, which after some rip roaring fights & fine performances from both Katie Jane Kyte &  Taman Lally (both of KBSOMA) left Mariskha Visagie facing Lyndsey Colindale for another, all Rayners Lane final, that was so close it went to extra time twice. Mariskha eventually took the gold & both competitors looked like they could sleep for a week afterwards.

The Junior Grade Menís Heavyweight division also had some great fights. WAKO fighter, Marinko Sukunda (LP) took on Martin Hancock of the BFTA (British Freestyle Taekwon-do Association). While on the other side of the table, Rob Doughty (KBSOMA) was on fine form all the way to the final, having a nice fight with Palquialino Alesi in the semi`s. The final was explosive with some solid hand combinations from Marinko Sunkunda & some fine leg techniques from Rob Doughty. Eventually though Marinko took the gold, after a tough fight.

The Senior Grade Menís -75kg division saw some exceptional kickers. The semi final between Mark Gilfrin (ETS) & Ross Campbell (KBSOMA) lead Ross to the final, to face Rayners Lane student Parvez Sultan, who fought well in his semi final against Park Jung Tae trained Tung Tse (LP). The final saw some exception boot duelling between Parvez & Ross, leaving Ross eventually having to settle with the silver as Parvez took gold. All the fighters in this division flowed really well, had great temperament & were all exceptional kickers, shooting off many high flying, spinning, aerial techniques.

The Senior Grade Menís Heavyweight division saw Michael Roche (LP) beat Pedro Frexio (KBSOMA) in a nice bout of technique, while Myron Pulliam (BFTA) tore it up in a tough exchange with Panthers student James Odell. The final was electrifying, with the shorter James Odell, bobbing, weaving & spinning to claim his points, whilst Myron Pulliam countered with some exception jumping kicks. Both fighters gave first class performances, with Myron eventually taking the well earned gold.

This signalled the end to the coloured belt divisions & it was time to sit back, relax & enjoy the black belts. Before this began, Kent instructor Kam Bains, jokily took on a challenge from an audience member, a 5 (!) year old that kicked his butt!

First up for the black belts were the Adult Patterns Division, 1st degree Farhad Ahmad of Rayners Lane was unlucky not to place in the medals with his solid performance of Gwang-Gae tul. Instead Kylie Johncock took the bronze with her performance of 2nd degree pattern Eui-Am, whilst Allister Liew of the London Panthers took the silver with his performance of Gae Baek, but experience took president in this division, as competition veteran, Stuart Anslow, instructor of Rayners Lane, won the gold.

Next was the Female Black Belt Sparring division, as if it wasnít under represented enough, Manick Guicheron (LP) opponent dropped out leaving her without another finalist to fight. So in stepped plucky Farhad Ahmad, to face the mighty reign of Manick, allowing her to claim her gold.

In the Open Weight Menís Black Belt Division, instructor Kam Bains gave an exception performance, taking on & beating his youthful opponent, Allister Liew (LP) in the finals. This was points fighting & all the fights saw some very fast hand (some sneakily fast eh! Kam) & foot techniques. Rayners Lane instructor Stuart Anslow & his student Farhad Ahmad, both had to settle for the joint 3rds. His was tired he claims (Mr Anslow), but heíd only been running the competition all day, so thatís no excuse really is it!

The last division of the day was the Black Belt Technical Destruction Division. Many coloured belts & audience members found this an extremely interesting spectacle. Of the techniques performed Stuart Anslow performed a reverse knifehand downward strike through a stack of roof tiles, Mustafa Dervis (LTA) performed a inward knifehand, outward knifehand, turning, back then flying side kick combination through 5 boards, Kam Bains (KBSOMA) showed a flying split kick & Allister Liew did a flying side kick over 8 feet up, but the surprise winner came in form of Taekwon-do veteran, Mr Patrick McCarthy, 5th degree, who came out of retirement for this event (hence the surprise). To claim his gold he performed a flying side kick, through a tunnel of 10 people, to break at the end, this truly delighted the crowd to see a big man, fly through the air with such grace.

Nearing the end of the event signalled it was time for the raffle to be drawn. Prizes ranged form the exceptional ITF Pioneers CD (also found on the Rayners Lane web site), to Taekwon-do & martial arts bags, head guards & exceptional QP-Sport Protectors (visit www.QP-Sport.com for further details of this outstanding bit of kit for ladies).

With the day nearly over, it was left to the referees & judges to decide on who should claim the best competitor award. For the junior it went to plucky fighter Aman Gill of Kam Bains School of Martial Arts & for the senior it went to Tung Tse of the London Panthers.

The day ended with a big thank you to all the officials & referees that helped out on the day, the St Johns ambulance crew whom had very little to do, but still did it really well, to
QP-Sport, sponsors of the event whom without which we wouldnít of had such brilliant trophies & all the parents & students that graciously helped run the canteen, take photographs, video film & check tickets etc.

Like last years event, the contact was skilfully controls partly by the refereeís, with good co-operation from the competitors themselves. The academies instructor received many great comments from instructors, competitors & spectators & would like to thank them all for supporting the event.

Keep checking the website for details of next years Taekwon-do Explosion, where all the action is.