The 2nd ITF Asia Taekwon-Do Championship 2013 was held on the 5th – 7th July at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

From L-R: Gavin, Jeremy, Justin, Russell, Shaun, Mst. Sng, Alexander, Justina, Matthew, Carnation, Joel & Liling

Day 1
In the late morning of 4th July, the Singapore team of 11 assembled at Changi Airport Terminal 1 to check in for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had a hearty meal at Pizza Hut before heading to board the plane to KLIA LCC Terminal.

When we arrived at the airport, we were warmly greeted by the President of Hong Kong Original Taekwon-Do Council and Master Instructor of Hong Kong & Malaysia, Master David Lau and representative from the organizing committee, Aaron Chong Sir. A cosy bus was arranged to take the team to the official accommodation hotel, Olympic Sports Hotel Kuala Lumpur to register and weigh in for the Championship. The registration process was swift with the help of our efficient team manager.

Subsequently, we were similarly shuttled to Park Royal Serviced Suites to check in to our rooms where we would spend the next 4 days in.

When we first stepped into the rooms, we were taken aback by the size of the rooms. The beds were luxurious, they had wardrobes with hangers, an ironing board with iron, in addition to beds there were 2 sofas, and a kitchenette complete with stove and sink! Everyone was gushing about how comfortable the rooms were. After settling down, the team gathered at the lobby before taking a short walk to Jalan Imbi for our dinner at Restoran Oversea, a Cantonese restaurant, with Master Sng’s friend, Mr Kong. The dishes we had included tofu with gourd, stir fried pork in claypot and herbal duck to name a few. Many of us could not forget the taste of the pork and duck as they were delicious.

The night concluded after the umpires and coaches had a conference in the Olympic Sports Hotel.

Day 2
We woke up to a nice American-style buffet breakfast provided by the hotel before boarding the bus to the competition venue – Stadium Badminton Cheras.  The event was kick-started with an opening ceremony where we were greeted by a demonstration by the Perak team who showed many different aspects of Taekwon-Do including Patterns, Pre-Arranged Sparring as well as self-defence techniques, which were very creative and impressive!

After a brief practice and familiarization session, it was time for the Under 12 Individual Pattern, where our young guns, Alex, Matthew and Russell were up.

Alex and Matthew, who were first timers in overseas competition arena, did their very best in their matches and put up a good fight with their competitors respectively – the competition was indeed stiff! As for Russell, he performed remarkably and cleared the first 2 rounds, placing himself in the semi-final where he too, did his best and earned himself a Bronze medal – the first medal for Team Singapore!

Under 12 Individual Sparring was up next.  Matthew fought valiantly and was in the finals after winning 2 rounds. Despite his inexperience and meeting a very skilled opponent, Matthew stood his ground and persevered extraordinarily, and his efforts were rewarded with a Silver medal in the Heavy Weight category.

Under 12 Individual Pattern – Russell Seow (Bronze) & Under 12 Individual Sparring – Matthew Wong (Silver)

The umpires were also in action judging the pattern and sparring competitions for the juniors for most of the day. Justin Sir also was called upon to be the centre umpire for the junior category sparring events. It was truly remarkable to see us put to use what we were taught in the umpire course we attended earlier this January.

Soon after, the events for the day ended with a trip back to our hotel where we freshened up and prepared for the Welcome Dinner at Pik Wah Restaurant. The participants were treated to a sumptuous 8-course dinner, during which we also had the honour to meet and take photographs with Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa, President of ITF, as well as Grandmaster Han, Master Trevor Nicholls, Master Lau, Master Hogan, Master Poon, Master Jue, Master Sng and the organizers Mr Andy Low and Mr Ivan Liew. Shortly after, we returned to the hotel to retire for the night.

The boys suit up for the Welcome Dinner
The boys suit up for the Welcome Dinner

Day 3
It was the day where most of our events were up.  Gavin Sir was the first to kick off in the morning in the category for Individual Pattern – Junior A (15 – 17) Male.  He gave it his all during his round, but unfortunately his opponent was judged to be better. It was a good performance nevertheless for his first time competing as a 1st Degree Black Belt!

I was next in line to proceed to the ring for Individual Pattern – Adult Male 1st Degree category. I too was knocked out in the first round.

Justina Mdm., who had not participated in an overseas competition since 2006, was understandably nervous as she stepped up to the challenge when her turn was called for her Individual Patterns – Adult Female 1st Degree category. She did her commendable utmost, yet was shy of advancing to the next round. However, we could see that she was still highly motivated to perform better at future tournaments!

Up next was Justin Sir for his Individual Pattern – Adult Male 2nd Degree category. It was the first competition after his recent upgrading.  Despite being at the minimum age for this category, nothing could stop him from doing his best as he managed to win the judges’ votes 2 rounds consecutively before he fell short of a win at the semi-finals, achieving a Bronze medal. Kudos for his courage and perseverance for performing spectacular Ko-Dangs for his optional pattern!

Individual Pattern Adult Male 2nd Degree category – Justin Gan (Bronze)

Being our seniors and team coaches, Shaun Sir and Jeremy Sir led well by example as both of them fought hard and made it through to the semi-finals, clinching both Bronze medals in the Individual Pattern – Adult Male 3rd Degree category.

Individual Pattern Adult Male 3rd Degree category – Shaun Chua & Jeremy Tan (Bronze)

Next was the Individual Pattern – Senior Female 1st Degree event. It was also the first time for both Liling Mdm and Carnation Mdm to step into an overseas competition ring. Showing us that you are never too old to compete, they bagged the Gold and Silver medal respectively. Well done to our seniors.

Individual Pattern Senior Female 1st Degree category – Carnation Chai (Silver) & Wang Liling (Gold) with Master Trevor Nicholls

Team Pattern for both Adult Male and Adult Female also was held in the later part of the afternoon. All the time and effort, tight schedules and last minute choreography paid off as both the teams achieved the Bronze positions in their respective categories, which were very satisfactory results since it was the first time Singapore participated in Team Patterns in an international tournament.

Adult Male Team Pattern (left to right): Shaun, Jeremy, Justin, Gavin & Joel (Bronze)
Adult Male Team Pattern (left to right): Shaun, Jeremy, Justin, Gavin & Joel (Bronze)

With that, we ended the 2nd day of competition. This time, we had dinner at restaurant Sun Fong Ba Kut Teh (pork ribs soup in tea broth) together with Mr Kong and his family. The dinner consisted of a medium-sized claypot herbal pork ribs soup, many types of vegetables as well as another pot of pork ribs (the dry version of the Ba Kut Teh), which were all delicious.

Since most of us didn’t have events the next day, we spent the night playing Heads Up where one has to guess the word that is showing up on the phone application from the words & actions from the rest.  Lots of funny actions, nicknames and laughter were generated, not to mention many funny pictures & videos taken too. Soon we were hungry again and decided to try the 24-hour food joint opposite our hotel.  We tried out many different local cuisines like Maggi Mee Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Roti Chenai and curry. We ate and chatted past midnight, before continuing with another round of Heads Up and retiring for the night.

Day 4
The only event left for the Singapore team was Individual Sparring.  Our team coach Shaun Sir was in Micro Weight division with another 10 competitors.  His constant training and frequent participation in many sparring events had finally paid off as he overcame many of his opponents and obtain the 1st sparring medal for Island Taekwon-Do Centre and Singapore in an international event. Well done Shaun Sir.

1st sparring medal for ITC and Singapore in an international event - Shaun Chua (Bronze)
1st sparring medal for ITC and Singapore in an international event – Shaun Chua (Bronze)

We ended the time in the competition arena with a closing ceremony where they announced Hong Kong Team as the overall champion and presented a token of appreciation to each country, the umpires and helpers. After the closing ceremony, Grandmaster Han Sam Soon addressed us on tenets and proper etiquette before ending the event.

In the evening, we attended the farewell party hosted at the Olympic Sports Hotel’s function room.  Before the buffet dinner was served, we took the time to mingle and catch up with our fellow friends in Taekwon-Do from other countries.

Not wanting to miss the local food before we returned home, we headed back to the same food joint opposite our hotel for some supper again.  We ordered the same Maggi mee Goreng, Roti Chenai and drinks and chatted till late. It was really nice to have such a gathering as well as a heart to heart talk session with the team including Master Sng.

Day 5
It would be a day of relaxation and recuperation for the team. We spent the morning having chicken rice and wanton noodles for breakfast together.  After that, some of the team members went to patronize a martial arts shop while the rest split the time between swimming at the pool, working out at the gym, reading books and playing charades.  The team met up again for lunch once more with Mr Kong at Marco Polo Restaurant which served yummy dim sum! After lunch, we went back to the hotel to pack up before heading to the airport for our flight home.

Overall, ITC achieved the most prizes at a single tournament so far, obtaining a total of 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 15 Bronze medals altogether.

On behalf of the Singapore team, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks to MTAC for organising the 2nd ITF Asia Championship and the organising committee for their impeccable hospitality.

Heartfelt thanks to Master Daniel Sng for all his guidance and tough training to prepare us well for this and future championships as the Singapore team will continue to fight on with indomitable spirit to bring ITC to greater heights.

I would also like to thank our team manager, Carnation Mdm. Without her help on the tedious administrative details and reminders for trainings & meetings etc., the team would not have such a smooth and fulfilling trip.

Also thanks to our team coach, Shaun Sir for sacrificing his personal time to train and prepare us for our events. Not to mention choreographing the team patterns for both the male and female teams too!

Needless to say, I would also want to give my thanks to our assistant Team Manager & Coach, Jeremy Sir for his constant reminders to brush up on our techniques and sharing his competition experiences.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Mr Kong and his family for taking time off to join us for the dinner sessions as well as his kind hospitality.  I look forward to the next ITC event and hope that even more members will join us to have a great time with the Taekwon-Do family!

Joel Mok

Written by Mr. Joel Mok, 1st Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2013

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