On 12 September, our group of 10 competitors, plus family members, went up to Malacca to participate in the Greenfield Taekwon-Do Open Championships 2019. I was one of the competitors who travelled with Master Sng, Carnation Ma’am and Dylan Sir in a bus. We departed from the dojang at 8am and on our way we played UNO. The driver was very friendly and he even recommended some famous local eateries. We stayed in Hatten Place Hotel which was beside the competition venue. This was very convenient as we could easily access the competition venue for practice sessions. Also, we could go up to our rooms to retrieve our belongings, or rest whenever necessary.

On the second day, we visited several heritage sites in George Town, such as St. Paul’s Church and Red Square. At Middleburg Baston, there were even real WWII cannons that were preserved for the public to view! We also shopped at Jonker Street. There, we tried a variety of food, from delicious chicken rice balls to “one-bite” durian puffs. I was really spoilt for choice. Every meal we had was like a scrumptious buffet. I even had a bowl of Durian Chendol which was awesome! It was at a shop house named San Shu Gong where we also bought many snacks and local food products.

Saturday was the start of our competition. The Senior Black Belts kicked off the competition with their patterns. I was amazed at their sharp and accurate execution of their patterns. I was astounded when I saw a Senior Black Belt holding a Side Piercing Kick at eye-level for a while before continuing his pattern. While waiting for my turn, I practiced my patterns with my friends in a corner of the training area. Just before my turn, I muttered a prayer hoping not to miss any part of my pattern. As there were 13 competitors in my category, I knew that the competition would be tough. I calmed myself down as my coach reminded me to just do my best. My coaches told me that I improved from my last competition in November 2018. Before the sparring events started, the Opening Ceremony commenced followed by an exciting performance by one of the academies to welcome the various Guests-of-Honour.

The sparring experience was very different from local competitions. I practiced with my coach at the training area to warm up. When I stepped into the ring, my heart raced at top speed, and I tried to attack by throwing a few punches. However, this did not work, as the opponent easily dodged them. At the end of the match I felt that I did my best and I was delighted to be awarded a Bronze medal. I wished that I had won a medal for my pattern, but I recalled Master Sng telling us that winning was not everything. He always encouraged us to give our best and as long as we stepped onto the competition mat and not give up, we are all winners.

On the last day, I supported our Colour Belt team. The day flew by very quickly as we had to head back to Singapore by noon. As usual, we had a good lunch. This time we had traditional Teochew “Bak Kut Teh” at a popular local shop. I would like to thank Master Sng and my coaches, Shaun Sir, Carnation Ma’am and Dylan Sir for helping prepare me for this competition. I would also like to thank my parents for giving me this opportunity to compete and especially my mother and sister for accompanying me to the trip.

Gabriel Chong

Written by Mr. Gabriel Chong, Junior Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2019