The Malaysia Taekwon-Do Open Championship 2014 was held in the town of Kluang, Johor Bahru on 7th & 8th June. This was my first international tournament and I must admit I was more nervous than excited.
We left for Kluang on the evening of 6th June but the bus journey took longer than expected due to the usual Friday traffic jam. Although we only arrived the hotel closed to midnight, the organizers were kind enough to wait for us, helped with the registration and checking in so that we could all rest early for the competition next day.
After the buffet breakfast at the hotel, we took the bus that the organizers arranged for all participants to get to the competition venue. We arrived at the tournament hall and found that there were 320 participants from 6 different countries taking part in this championship. Participants came from India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Nepal and of course, Singapore and Malaysia. Master Sng & 8 members from Island Taekwon-Do Centre made the trip and seven competed.
The events for the first day were Individual and Team Patterns. First up for Team Singapore representing ITC was Ms. Amber Seow (Female under 12, White – Yellow Belt) performing Chon-Ji. She was brilliant going one round and forcing a tie breaker.
Next up was Mr. Jervis Chong (Male under 17, White – Yellow Belt) who admitted to being very nervous but persevered well as he made his way to the ring to perform Chon-Ji. If Jervis was truly nervous, I couldn’t tell. He fought his way through three rounds before he was trumped, but deserves due credit to have been victorious over three Yellow Belts.
The next player on our team was Ms. Hazel Seow (Female under 12, Blue/Red – Red/Black Belt).Hazel gave her all in her first round and performed a flawless Choong–Moo but her competitor was declared stronger.
Next up was myself, in the Male Open, Blue/Red – Red/Black Belt category. I was eliminated in the first round but managed to defeat my opponent in the Bronze Medal match, which led me to eventually walking away with a Bronze Medal. Truth be told, I was more nervous than the whole team put together.
Next category began with our Junior Black Belt Mr. Russell Seow (Male under 12, Black Belt) who performed Gae-Baek and a second pattern chosen by the judges. Russell went three impressive rounds and got a Silver medal!
Then we had Justina Sun Mdm (Female Open, I Degree Black Belt), who was nothing short of incredible. For her first match, she performed her I Degree Pattern of Choice, Gae-Baek and the Judges’ random Pattern which was Toi-Gye. She won the first match and drew the second match before being eliminated but there was still hope as she was slated to fight for a Bronze medal. She performed Hwa-Rang for the Judges’ random Pattern and emerged the victor in the Bronze medal match. She not only overcame her competitors, she was also overcoming an illness that sidelined her between her three rounds. We all had mixed emotions as she finished with the Bronze medal, feeling sad that she was eliminated but jubilant that she could now take a breather, relax, drink some water and recover.
Our final competitor was Joel Mok Sir (Male Open, II degree Black Belt),who had a strong performance doing Choong-Jang and the Judges’ choice of Po-Eun. Joel Sir went three strong rounds which included Gae-Baek and Kwang-Gae, after which he earned himself a Bronze medal. I noticed though that whenever Joel Sir was competing, everyone stopped what they were doing to watch his match. I think it is because of the power he put into each movement, the focus and determination on his face, which made people stand up and notice.
Of particular interest were the ladies’ Team Patterns at the end of the day. Personally, I had only seen Team Patterns consisting of only two people, never five. The ladies had an elegant flow and performed in complete harmony, which was captivating.
After a most eventful day, we attended the Welcome Dinner which was held at Prime City Hotel’s Mars Room. The guest of honor was B Tuan Haji Sarday, the current Menteri Besar of Johor. The food was good and everyone looked so different as compared to earlier in the day when they were decked out in their Taekwon-Do doboks; they were all in handsome suits and dresses.
Day Two consisted of Individual and Team Sparring. ITC did not send any representatives this time; however, it was fun watching the matches and learning from them. Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Senior Black Belts’ categories came up.
We went round the corner of the hotel for a warm and hearty lunch with 2 of the officials from the Championship who were kind enough to fetch us to this famous beef noodles place which was recommended by another official – Dee Loh Sir. It certainly lived up to its reputation because everyone, myself included, thought that the beef noodles were fantastic!
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr. Wee Lai Der from Kluang Taekwon-Do Club for organizing and inviting us to participate in this championship, not forgetting the hospitality he extended to Team Singapore too. Next, I would also like to thank Master Daniel Sng and Carnation Chai Mdm (Team Manager) for all of their hard work and kind words throughout the tournament. I am grateful for all the new friends they kindly introduced me to and all the doors it opened for all of us. Also, not forgetting Joel Sir (Team Coach) for organizing the extra tournament training sessions for us and guiding us endlessly along the way.
I also want to take a moment to send a personal thank you to Andy Low Sir and Alvin Wong Sir for their great hospitality, inviting me to their dojang for personal training and making me feel welcome in Malaysia. Thank you for a great dinner and hope to see you both soon.
Written by Mr. Gordon Lodewyk, 1st Gup, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2014