ITF World Championships 2016

ITF World Championships 2016

To begin our journey, we met at Changi Airport, in the evening of 25 July. The Singapore delegates Carnation Mdm, Russell and myself were grateful to have our biological and Taekwon-Do families come to send us off!

wc2016-1Thanks to Master Daniel Sng, Mr Seow, Jeremy Sir, Regine, Joel Sir, Hazel, Amber, and my parents for sending us off at Changi Airport

We proceeded to board our flight to Heathrow, London, but not before the ever-hungry Russell grabbed a burger from Burger King… and another hotdog roll in Dubai where our flights connected. There were adequate meals and snacks on board, by the way.

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Upon arrival at Heathrow on the 26th morning, the three of us were privileged to be kindly received by Jake Nicholls, Grandmaster Nicholls’ son, who drove us 1.5 hours to Brighton with a welcoming introduction to the area (while another Subway sandwich was devoured by Russell).

We were thrilled to find that our hotel and the venue of the tournament, Brighton Centre, was facing the beautiful beachfront and ocean! As we walked along the streets to registration, we were greeted by the cool sea breeze, and many of our international friends in Taekwon-Do. We met up with Allen (our 4th Singapore delegate, who arrived in UK earlier) who expressed and reflected a lot of our excitement in the whole atmosphere of the area, being filled with hundreds of tracksuit-donning Taekwon-Doists from so many different countries exploring the streets, and the perfect summer weather.

After a mandatory fish & chips lunch, we took a stroll around the beach area, admiring the sights and art by the coastline. Thereafter we joined the many other groups of Taekwon-Doists at Regency Square, the big grass park between the hotel clusters, seemingly there for us to practice patterns… so we did!

The entire ITF delegation then gathered at 6pm for the Opening Ceremony, with a celebratory, excited charge that always accompanied our World Championships. Huge flags were proudly hung, country cheers were roared, accompanied by the clappers, vuvuzelas, and lightsticks… it was a raucous, joyful and epic crowd which was going to be treated to a good time. The organizers planned an amazing show for us, starting with a TKD video and light show, a breakdancing performance by Flawless, an acro-gymnastics performance by King Edmund Acro Gymnastics, and songs by The Voice UK’s finalist, Leah McFall!

The awe-inspiring performances were followed by the Flag-bearing Ceremony, Umpires’ and Participants’ Oath-taking, then speeches by the Mayor of Brighton, ITF President Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa, and Vice-President and Organizing Chairman of the World Championships, Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls, who declared the Championships open!

wc2016-1045 countries attended the event

After the speeches, the stadium was glad to receive an encore of all three performing acts, before we adjourned for the night. But not before taking some pictures!

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After such an eventful day, we tried to grab a quick dinner and retire early, but poor Russell succumbed to the jet lag after the appetizer and soup…

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Recharged the next morning, we arrived at the stadium to find that both Carnation Mdm and Russell were both up in the first patterns categories in different rings! The panic started. We had not enough time to warm up and go through “final rehearsals”, and we were worried that if the events clashed, I would not be able to coach both competitors.

To make matters worse, I was not aware of the strict coaching attire, and was rejected entry into the ring when I brought Russell to his Patterns match. He faced disqualification if there was no coach in 3 minutes, as per regulations! Fortunately, I found Mr Chris Galibert from Australia nearby, and he quickly volunteered and rushed into the ring to stand in for us, which I was super grateful for.

(FYI for future World Championships coaches: no dobok allowed, and you must wear covered shoes. To be safe, wear a tracksuit and sports/TKD shoes)

Russell performed with excellent focus and power. His rhythm was unfaltering and strikes precise. To be fair, his opponent was also sharp and had excellent stances. The scores were very close and went to his Irish opponent, who later achieved a Bronze medal.

Grateful to borrow coaching attire from a friend, I shortly afterwards coached for Carnation Mdm in her Patterns competition. She did really well and I could see the leaps of improvement in her technique from just these few months of tournament training; her movements were consistent and confident. If she was nervous, she certainly did not show it! This is our first time having a Senior category competition participant and I really respect her for still being so sporting… I wonder if I will still be able to lift my legs when my time comes. Hopefully she will inspire more Seniors to take part in the future! The match went to her UK counterpart, who later went on to be the gold medallist in the category. A Master Instructor we met later asked about her results; when he heard it, he joked, “Then you are the silver medallist!”

As a coach I was really proud to see our competitors on the world stage, performing their patterns with keen focus and determination, holding their own alongside the best in the world. As they performed, every other thought fell away and I found that Master Sng’s words really rang true; that when you have the courage to compete and go into the ring, you are already a winner, regardless of the result. Before they even finished, I was already cheering them for their efforts, especially all three of them are competing in the World Championships for the first time!

The next morning, 28th July, Thursday, Allen and my Patterns category went on at the same time. We were blessed to have the Hong Kong, Malaysia, USA and Australia coaches on stand-by to help us with our coaching needs, coordinated by our very resourceful Team Manager. Carnation Mdm had to juggle taking videos, listen out for our matches, and find the appropriate coaches for us, running up, down and across the spectator galleries to get the best angle for the photography! Kudos to her.
Mr Ian Bruton from Hong Kong helped to coach Allen in his Patterns matches, and Mr Thomas Yee from Hong Kong coached me in mine. We were so grateful that they were so supportive despite having to coach their own competitors as well.

wc2016-56With thanks to Hong Kong Coach, Mr Ian Bruton

wc2016-57With thanks to Hong Kong Coach, Mr Thomas Yee

wc2016-52With thanks to Malaysia Coach, Mr Khoo Bu Leong

wc2016-15With thanks to Australia Coach Mr Chris Galibert and Ms Stephanie Galibert

wc2016-58With thanks to USA Coach Mr Chad Morishita

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With thanks to USA Coach Mr David Jue

Allen went against a Netherlands competitor with impressive power and stability. He won the first round with a great cheer from the Team Manager, and his mother, who enthusiastically came to support the Singapore Team.

In his second match, he competed against an Argentinian. He displayed the same determined power which I thought definitely was better than his opponent’s. The match went to Argentina, though, which I think was probably due to more complete sine waves and stances. It was another really close fight which he outperformed expectations and did superbly! His Argentinian opponent subsequently earned himself a Bronze medal.

I was also competing in my Patterns category in the morning, and was thrilled to find that my matches, for the first time in my competition experience, would be on the Centre Ring! Usually the Centre Ring would be on a raised platform and reserved for the most sensational matches, overseen by the most senior umpires from around the world, inclusive of Masters.

I did not have much expectations for myself as I stepped up to the stage, knowing that I didn’t put in enough training leading up to this competition. Ironically, that made me calm. My first match was with an Argentinian. I thought I did my movements relatively stable and safe, and have never felt that relaxed in a competition. Perhaps it comes with age… after all I am definitely a lot older than the average age of competitors there!

I went through to the second round, where I competed against UK. I thought it was a good match and felt an adrenaline spike when the judges announced a draw – not time to rest yet, more to go! They announced Po-Eun for the tie-breaker pattern, and I thought inwardly that spelled trouble for me! I knew that my upper body techniques were not my strongest points, which Po-Eun was mostly made out of. However I set my mind definitely to confront the challenge with a positive mind. I threw in all my power and focus. The judging system decided to have a technical fault and left us standing there waiting for a long time for the results… It was another amazingly close fight, with it ultimately going to my UK counterpart, who later, to my delight, went on to win the Bronze medal, and be the Male Individual Overall Champion for all categories!

Some would say that we are unlucky to be meeting such strong contenders in our early matches which denied our chances of getting a medal, but I would turn around and say that we are fortunate instead to be able to meet, perform alongside and make friends with them, which is a privilege and honour since they are that good! I was surprised that I did not really feel crushed when I lost my match, as I usually did in competitions when I was younger. I counted my blessings that I was able to do my best at that point of time, without any injury or stomachaches or sore limbs which might have easily impaired our performances.

I was also surprised that even though I lost in the early rounds, there were several foreign competitors, spectators and Instructors who approached to congratulate and remark positively upon my performance, which I was very touched to receive, and I thought to myself that I had forgotten how generous this Taekwon-Do community can really be! We are there to do our best and improve ourselves, alongside so many other wonderful brothers and sisters in Taekwon-Do.

wc2016-59Mdm Carnation with her opponent and champion, Mdm Rachel Ratcliffe, UK

wc2016-21Exchanging T-shirts with Bronze Medallist Mr Ivan Obrist-Sappia, Argentina

Russell was called up near noon for his Special Techniques category. When we assembled in the ring, it was obvious that our ravenous Russell was putting his food to good use because he was at least 1 head taller than most of his fellow competitors in the 12-13 years old category! The Chief Umpire told us and the coaches that although he knew that the minimum distances for the category was very long or high, they would be keeping the same standards as always since the first World Championships. Which means that even though they knew the minimum standard was too high for most of the competitors at their age, they will not lower the standard to let more people hit the targets. If there was totally no one who could hit the targets, there would be no medals given!

They first attempted the Flying Side Kick event where there are two barrier poles about 3m apart and ~60cm from the floor, that must be flown over with both legs and kicking the target with the foot sword. It was truly no mean feat for those guys. Russell did a great jump but just missed crossing the second hurdle. Only 1 out of the 10 managed to cross both and hit the target!

Next, they attempted the Jumping Turning Kick which was to hit a high target (~2.1m). Russell managed to jump up and kick high enough, but just missed the target by an inch! The collective ‘ohhh’ from the crowd reflected the closeness of his attempt. There were also not enough people who could hit the minimum requirement for this station, so the judges went on to Jumping Front Kick.

Russell did another great jump and hit the target for this kick, but was not awarded any points because he did not hit with the correct foot area, the ball of the foot. There were enough scorers after this kick so Russell did not manage the first 4 placing. Even so, I was really glad and proud that he took up the challenge and did a great job, especially since he did not get much training in this event. Also, it was quite special for Team Singapore as we hardly send any competitors for this category. I think Russell will definitely be back for more and inspire more members to join him!

Praiseworthy attempts by Russell at the Special Techniques

Allen’s sparring match was slated for later in the afternoon on the same day. We were worried as he had a splitting headache in the morning through lunch, but fortunately some rest, medicine, food and lots of hydration put him back on track before his category started.

As Allen was only 2kg above the Hyper Weight (70kg and up) minimum weight, it was not surprising that we found that his Canadian opponent was significantly bigger and a good half head taller. The first round started off checking each other and had no lack of punching clashes. The Canadian had a good habit of throw high kicks, but Allen held his ground commendably, dodging and keeping his hands up to block, even once parrying to cause his opponent to fall!

The second round was more spirited from both sides. Allen continued to chase his defensive opponent through the match and had a few good body shots, while his opponent managed to get in a clear Jumping Downward Kick to the high section, which probably gave him the lead. The points were close and went to Canada, but I think Allen did a wonderful job dominating the footwork and keeping on the offensive against a bigger opponent! I was also very glad that both sides fought fairly and with good control, especially after watching some too-intense matches and injuries in other fights.
When he exclaimed “So tired!” after the match did I realize how much effort he put into the fight. It’s so easy for the coach to be yelling instructions and encouragement by the side, while the player is chasing each other around and exchanging blows, trying to catch their breath the whole time!

With that, we finished all our events for our Singapore Team. In the evening debrief I earnestly congratulated them again for their efforts, and conveyed the message that it is not the end, but just a milestone of going further. I think we all did well, but most importantly, want to do better next time.

We bought some photos which were professionally taken by the organizers, and I think they speak many words and contain splendid memories made.

With our last event over, the team was more relieved and got to fully soak in the incredible atmosphere of the World Championships. The continual yelling and cheering of teams, the great fights and performances over the many rings, and emotions running high were infectious. The skill levels were unbelievable and we got to see a lot of Team Events, Destruction and Special Techniques which we hardly get to see at other smaller tournaments… the whole scene was captivating and entertaining, and we didn’t mind spending most of our days there just watching!

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wc2016-31Mdm Carnation having an interview for a Korean Internet Broadcasting TV channel, promoting the World Championships and 2017 Asia Championships in Korea

Of course we got to go out and explore the beautiful seaside city too. On Friday we finally got to go out to a proper lunch (the competition days were just sandwiches and fruits from the cafeteria); we had an indulgent pasta, pizza and cheese platter spread, yums.

wc2016-32Gorging and not caring about the camera, at NuPosto

Through the rest of the days, we alternated between watching the competition and having a great time window shopping, ice cream hunting, catching up with and making international friends, and of course exchanging and giving out souvenirs, which is a tradition of World Championships (including team jackets, doboks, t-shirts, badges, and other trinkets!)… I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.

wc2016-39Exchanging Team Jackets

We also made a point to send our regards and take pictures with the Masters and teams we have befriended. One thing that struck me was the high regard many Masters and Instructors have for our Chief Instructor, Master Daniel Sng, and our Singapore team. They asked after him and sent compliments even though he was not present. It truly shows the camaraderie and reputation that Master Sng has built up in the international community through the years, despite our relatively small size.

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With the President of ITF, Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa

wc2016-41With the Vice-President of ITF and Organizing Chairman of ITF World Championships 2016, Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls, and Master Michael Muleta from Australia

wc2016-42With the Special Assistant to President Choi, Master Parm Rai

wc2016-50With Master Lau from Hong Kong

wc2016-43With the Korean delegation

wc2016-44With some of the organizers, Jake and Ashley Nicholls, and a Canadian friend

wc2016-51With the President of Kenya ITF, Mr Richard Kenge David

We were also honoured and privileged to be fed well. A big thanks again to Master Jue & Mrs Jue, Carnation’s Aunt, and Mrs Wang, for buying us such sumptuous meals!

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With appreciation to Master & Mrs Jue for a lovely Japanese dinner, also pleased to have David’s and Valerie’s company on 29th July

wc2016-46With appreciation to Carnation Mdm’s Aunt and cousin for the yummy seafood lunch, featuring Carnation Mdm’s niece, Ellis, on 30th July

wc2016-47With appreciation to Mrs Wang for the delicious sushi and Japanese dinner, featuring Allen’s sister who also came to watch the Championships, on 30th July

The ITF International Open Championships was a 1-day tournament hosted on Saturday, 30th July. Even though the rules and judging criteria were less formal, the standard of performance was no less impressive and challenging. It was open to colour belts, and many more juniors (as only 12 & above are allowed in the World Championships) who participated, but also a good number of the World Championships participants took the opportunity to compete also. I was especially impressed that they opened two more rings for a total of 9 rings! And how they efficiently scheduled the competition to finish within one day, for so many participants, with all the umpires working an extra shift for this event as well.

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The weekends were also full of festive spirit in the air; we got familiar with Brighton’s reputation of being a popular tourist spot, especially for bachelor and hens’ parties, and weddings. There were wedding shoots and receptions all along the hotel rows and beachside, groups in party costumes filling up the nightspots, and even a decorated busload of ladies swinging around town! The beach also became especially crowded with families, breakdancing events, and in general an awesome summer atmosphere in the air.

The most exciting finals of individual and team events were reserved for the last day, Sunday, 31st July. The crowd could not be more rowdy with screams and whistles and chants of support for their best players on the rings, but the decisions were always fair and result upsets never became ugly. I am proud to be part of a community which are fair and encouraging of each other even if they are on the opposite sides of the ring. Magnificent performances were always acknowledged by all.

Thereafter, the closing ceremony acknowledged the Best Overall Individuals, Teams and Umpires. The banquet was held shortly after, where there was a buffet and dance into the night. It was for the younger, more energetic crowd, so we left early to catch some sea breeze, a little to Russell’s disappointment…

The next morning we checked out early and went our separate ways to continue our travels in London. I had a really superb time in Brighton in all aspects, at the competition, enjoying the travelling, meeting and making new international friends. We were already psyched up for the Asia Championships 2017 which is to be held in Korea, and are looking forward to going with a bigger team.

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Again as Master Sng says of competitions: The experience is what you go for, medals are only a bonus, not the main target. I have been to tournaments for over 10 years, but each time is still a new and treasured experience, and I wish more members would join us in the future ones! It really is so much more than just going there to perform your Patterns or fight someone foreign, as I hoped to have shared in this article.

On behalf of Island Taekwon-Do Centre, I would like to congratulate the Singapore delegates who well represented our country and club:

  • Carnation Chai, 2nd Degree
    • Team Manager
    • Quarter-Finalist, Senior Female 2nd Degree Patterns
  • Shaun Chua, 4th Degree
    • Team Coach
    • Top 16, Adult Male 4th Degree Patterns
  • Allen Wang, 1st Degree
    • Top 16, Under 18s Male 1st Degree Patterns
    • Top 12, Under 18s Male Hyper Weight Sparring
  • Russell Seow, 1st Degree
    • Top 16, Under 14s Male 1st Degree Patterns
    • Top 10, Under 14s Male Special Technique

I would also like to convey our special thanks to:

  • Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls and the Organizing Team, who, in President Choi Jung Hwa’s words, organized “a perfect event”
  • Master Daniel Sng, who helped plan, coordinate, and made possible our trip
  • Master Gordon Jue, Mrs Grace Jue, Master David Lau, Mr Khoo Bu Leong, and Mrs Sally Wang for taking care of our team
  • Mr Andy Low and Mr Ivan Liew for helping us with our team gear and my training
  • Mr Jeremy Tan, and Mr Joel Mok for coaching and preparing the team
  • All our supporters who were there either physically or in spirit!

Taekwon,
Shaun Chua

Written by Mr. Shaun Chua, 4th Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2016

5th Inter-School ITF Taekwon-Do Invitation Tournament

Hong Kong Invitational Tournament and Seminar
27-28 December 2014

hk1December 27-28, 2014 marked the 5th Annual Hong Kong Inter-School and Asia ITF Taekwon-Do Invitational Tournament held in Tai Wei. This was my first trip to “Asia’s world city” and I was very excited and honored to represent Singapore. Other participating countries included Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Australia.

The first day, Saturday, 27th of December, centered on a Masterclass seminar hosted by Master David Lau and led by Grandmaster Nicholls (9th Dan), Vice President & Secretary-General of the International Taekwon-Do Federation. This was my first Masterclass which I attended as 1st Gup. I was initially surrounded by a sea of black belts from 1st to 4th degree, feeling like a little fish in a big pond. Later as we lined up I noticed other colored belts as well, but not many, though.

Never having been to a Masterclass before, I envisioned that it would be a watch and learn seminar but it was full participation. The main focus for Grandmaster Nicholls was the side-piercing kick and a review of the turning kick and back-piercing kick. Master Dantes Poon (Hong Kong) and Master Daniel Sng (Singapore) also led portions of the day’s events, which encompassed 5 hours of kicking with partners up and down the very long gym floor. The seminar was very helpful and Grandmaster Nicholls shared that while there is a text book way to deliver a side-piercing kick, not everyone will deliver it in the same way as there are a lot of variables to consider including the person who is delivering the kick and the situation in which the kick is being delivered.

hk2I was incredibly fortunate to have great support for me at the tournament, particularly Master Sng and Mr. Andrew Kung (5th Dan), Australia, who coached, encouraged, and translated for me throughout the tournament weekend. Mr. Kung introduced me to Grandmaster Nicholls, under whom he had studied for two years in the UK, and I proudly cherish the photo memory of that moment. It was a day I will always remember.

The seminar was followed by a traditional family-style Chinese meal which included many delectable dishes including my personal favorite, sweet and sour pork. It was the perfect end to a very rewarding day which allowed me the opportunity to visit with old friends and meet new ones.

hk3Day Two welcomed the annual tournament, a one day competition consisting of sparring, patterns, and board breaking. There were almost 200 competitors and even more spectators, including my wife and son, who also made the trip to watch the competition.

hk4I participated in board breaking using a reverse punch, which was a lot more difficult than I thought, but I managed to take second place. I also competed in patterns, performing Choong-Moo, taking third out of four competitors. As I learned, it’s not about winning. In the end, it’s about taking from each event all that it can teach us as a way to learn, grow, and continually improve.

I would like to thank Master Daniel Sng and Ms. Carnation Chai (Team Manager, 2nd Dan) for all of their hard work in putting everything together, and to Master Sng for letting me accompany him to the competition.

I would also like to thank Mr. Andy Low, Mr. Alvin Wong and Mr. Andrew Kung for their help and guidance throughout the trip. A competitor could not have better coaches than you.

Lastly, I would like to thank Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls and Master David Lau for their hospitality and the wonderful opportunity to learn from them. It was a great honor and I look forward to seeing you both again soon.

There were a number of my fellow peers from Singapore who were greatly missed and I wish all of you could have attended. The seminar was excellent, the tournament was outstanding, and the experience to learn and compete at the international level was spectacular.

Taekwon,
Gordon Lodewyk

Written by Mr. Gordon Lodewyk, 1st Dan, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2014

2nd ITF Asia Taekwon-Do Championship

2nd ITF Asia Taekwon-Do Championship

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!

Taekwon,
Joel Mok

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

ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships 2012

ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships 2012 in Ottawa, Canada, August 6 – 13.

In the wee hours of August 6th, the Singapore delegation comprising of Master Sng, Chen Weiling, Joel Mok and myself, gathered in Changi Airport’s Terminal 3, bracing ourselves for a wearisomely long flight to Ottawa, via Hong Kong and New York.

Fortunately the flights (United Airlines) were comfortable enough and, in some aspects, even exceeded my expectations! I can’t speak for the rest but I emerged from the HK-NEW YORK 14+hour leg without much ache or soreness, surprisingly. There was ample entertainment, wholesome meals and snacks, attentive staff, and, most importantly, a smooth and safe flight.

Upon arrival, Mr and Mrs. Noreiga welcomed and shuttled us to our home for the stay – Delta City Centre hotel. The double rooms we stayed in were grand! An extremely comfortable, large bed for each of us, a huge TV, and even a writing desk sat amply in the room.

It was near 7pm in the evening after settling in and we went out in search of dinner. As it was a public holiday, the roads and streets were deserted throughout the evening, and most of the stores were closed. We managed to find food at a small pizzeria after some walking and asking around. A visit to a convenience store after and the walk back to the hotel wound down our evening; the weather was just nice to spend outdoors– low 20s, breezy, and not too dry.

The next (and subsequent mornings) we had to get up early at about 6am; breakfast buffet was served up in the penthouse which held a beautiful view of the city, including the Ottawa River. Shortly after, we went to register our delegations and collect our relevant documents. The crew were friendly and efficient. We had a bit of drama when I was overweight at weigh-in.. Nothing a little skipping couldn’t resolve.

We spent the afternoon exploring Sparks Street (Ottawa’s equivalent of our Orchard Road), Wellington Street (where the majestic Parliament Building resides) and Byward Market where we had lunch and found fresh local produce, food, and trinkets. On the way back we found and signed up for a city tour at their booths. It was an interesting ride! The “amphibus” we took was akin to our Duck Tours back home – we were introduced to Ottawa’s and nearby Gatineau’s landmarks, including the many government buildings, residencies, offices, museums, the mint, and embassies, among others. Going into the Rideau River we had another perspective and a nice ride. We sighted the Rideau Falls and the scenery was spectacular – many buildings had fairy tale castle-like designs, complete with spires!

The rest of the night was occupied by the Coaches’ Meeting which reinforced rules and regulations of the tournament, as well as drew brackets for the events.

Day 3 brought the first day of events – we were shuttled across the river to Le Centre Sportif De Gatineau, a swanky new and enormous sports complex, after breakfast on very vintage-looking yellow school buses. The Opening Ceremony included several dance, Taekwon-Do skits and performances, as well as welcome speeches from President Choi, the Organizers and Mayor of Gatineau, and the Parade of Nations. The stadium was a sight to behold with many huge flags put up, more than 5 rings set up, and a roaring crowd of more than 800 from all over the world.

The tournament started with Junior Pattern and Sparring events. Master Sng kindly volunteered his services to be part of the Umpiring team, and he subsequently also worked dedicatedly over the long days of the tournament.

After some training, Weiling, Joel and I left early at 4pm on the shuttle bus back to get some groceries for our stay. We tried poutine, which is a popular Canadian dish consisting of French fries topped with brown gravy and curd cheese; we all agreed it was a tasty dish and of course, had more over the course of our stay. Ate in for dinner – had a feast of salad, soup, noodles and fruits!

August 9th was the second day of the tournament and it saw Junior team events as well as Senior (above 35yrs old) events. The standard was great and the atmosphere very celebratory – opponents were very gracious and congratulating each other even after a hard fight. Also, some members from different states in the country would come together to form teams to compete. That is an inspiring spirit that Taekwon-Doists have and I wish more of our Singapore members could have taken part in this wonderful experience – it really is not about winning and losing, but of training hard and doing your best. Next time we have to send enough to take part in Team Pattern events which is such a beautiful spectacle to behold!

Other than that we were all preparing our nerves for our turn to perform the next day, all in between continuous well wishes for my birthday and fresh, huge strawberries from the nearby supermart!

Weiling’s event, Adult Female 1st Dan Individual Patterns, was called first on the next day – the big day where all our events took place. Performing her patterns with admirable strength and confidence, she won her opponent the first round. Unfortunately in the next round which was the quarter finals, her opponent was also very strong and ended up the favourite, and I am sure it was a close match giving the judges a run for their money.

Joel’s division, Adult Male 1st Dan Individual Patterns, came shortly after, to be held on the prestigious centre, raised platform! He too performed magnificently and won two rounds straight, putting him in the semi-finals, but he did not secure another win although he put in his very best. It was very heartwarming to see him perform so well at his first World Championships and was rewarded with winning a Bronze for Singapore. Congratulations, Joel!

My patterns category, Adult Male 3rd Dan Individual Patterns happened concurrently as Joel’s, so the Japanese coach kindly sat in as coach for my first round – thank you again to the Japanese delegation! I won that round and the second round as well, but failed to get past the quarter finals on the third match. Later in the afternoon, I also did not do well against my first opponent in the Adult Male Individual Sparring – Micro weight category, and was eliminated in the first round.

I’m sure, regardless of our results, we have all gained incredible firsthand experience competing in the World Championships and know what it takes to perform patterns and spar at the highest level.

The next two days of tournament consisted of team patterns, team sparring, special techniques and power breaking. It always is a pleasure to watch these other categories which we are not very experienced in, and learn and train back in the dojang, hoping that in the near future we can raise our own standards of these events, through our own local and regional tournaments as well. There are just so many aspects to this marvellous martial art (not limited to tournament events) that we can learn about, and I am glad to know that it is practiced with so much respect all around the world.

During the Closing Ceremonies on the last day, August 12, there was also several performances including Taiko Drum group performances and dances which were a treat to watch and end the tournament on a high note.

President Choi notably mentioned how the quality of Taekwon-Do has been raised to such a high level this year, and that how he hopes to have the Olympics recognize our beautiful art in the near future.

The Japanese delegation invited our team to dinner that evening, and we had a lovely meal in the hotel’s renowned restaurant. It was a great end to our short-lived trip to Canada, and it further shows how in Taekwon-Do we always have international friends and a good time wherever we go.

On behalf of the Singapore delegation I would like to thank the President of ITF, President Choi, the Co-hosts Mr. Chris Reid and Master Michel Demers of Canada, Ms. Natalie Noriega, the events planner who tirelessly clarified our queries and helped us throughout the trip. and last but definitely not least, Master Sng, whom of course without we would not be having such a fulfilling experience, without whom we would not have Taekwon-Do to not only keep fit, but also to enrich our lives, make international friends, travel and experience many other cultures.

Till the next World Championships in Italy, 2014, let’s all train hard to attend another unforgettable event!

Taekwon,
Shaun Chua

Written by Mr. Shaun Chua, 3rd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2012

1st ITF Asia Taekwon-Do Championship

Island Taekwon-Do Centre sent a team of 5, including Master Daniel Sng, to participate in the International Taekwon-Do Federation 1st Asia Taekwon-Do Championships from the 15th to 17th of November 2011, held in Hong Kong. Singapore was one of 11 countries (producing a total of a 100-odd competitors) to partake in this landmark competition, the first of its kind for the Asian continent. The events contested were individual, as well as team, patterns and sparring, at the junior, adult and senior levels.

The tournament began on the 15th with an opening ceremony graced by ITF President Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa, with him and Master David Lau, President of the Hong Kong Original Taekwon-Do Council giving speeches. Following the opening ceremony, the individual and team patterns events took place for the rest of the 1st competition day. The welcome dinner was held later that night.

The 2nd and 3rd days featured the individual and team sparring matches, and the prize presentation and closing ceremony respectively. A farewell party was also held on the 3rd night, where we were given the opportunity to socialize with the competitors from other countries in a more relaxed setting.

In conclusion, we are proud to announce that Mr. Justin Gan (1st degree) emerged victorious in the Junior 1st Degree Patterns event, while Mr. Andrew Kung (4th degree) came in 1st runner-up in the Senior 4th Degree Patterns category. Of special mention is the fact that Justin was preparing for the GCE ‘O’ Levels examinations while training for the tournament, and in fact had arrived in Hong Kong just the night prior to his event. The commitment Justin demonstrated to perfecting the art of Taekwon-Do should certainly be lauded, as was his demonstration of the Taekwon-Do tenets – Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit – in balancing both his academic and Taekwon-Do commitments. Much credit also goes to Mr. Jonathan Sun (4th degree), our Team Coach, for his invaluable guidance and training.

We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to our hosts, the Hong Kong Original Taekwon-Do Council, and in particular Master David Lau and Mr. Windy Yu (5th degree, Shing Wu Taekwon-Do Association) for their impeccable hospitality from the time we landed in Hong Kong till the moment we departed. They made our experience in Hong Kong an unforgettable one, and it certainly leaves me hankering for a subsequent visit in the near future!

On a personal note, I would like to thank Master Daniel Sng for giving me the opportunity to participate in this competition, despite being overseas for almost the entire year, as well as Mr. Jeremy Tan (2nd Degree), for the outstanding administration of the trip. I look forward to many future experiences!

Taekwon,
Shanan Woo

Written by Mr. Shanan Woo, 1st Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2011

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ITF World Championships 10th Junior, 15th Adult and 1st Senior

A team of 10 of us, including Master Daniel Sng, participated at the ITF World Championships 10th Junior, 15th Adult and 1st Senior from 4th of July to the 8th of July 2010 in South Korea at Cheongju.

There were a total of more than 30 countries who took part in this major event. It is the second time ITF held the World Championships in South Korea, the birthplace of Taekwon-Do. The first was in 2004, at Daejeon.

The ITF Championships consisted of Individual Patterns, Team Patterns, Individual Sparring, Team Sparring, Power Breaking and Special Techniques. It was very interesting to see the Seniors compete as it is the first time ITF has organized a Senior Championships for them. I hope that more Seniors would come forward to continue to compete and never give up. Taekwon-Do is not only for the young, but it is for life.

Our Singapore team competed in the Individual Patterns and we would like to congratulate Ms Tang Poh Looi, who won the bronze medal for the Adult Female 2nd Degree patterns and we are all proud of her achievement! The rest of us got through to quarter finals and we will strive to work harder and compete in the next ITF World Championships in 2012.

It was heartwarming for me as it is the first time I have been to the World Championships. This event allowed me to learn more about the culture of the different countries and make new friends. The experience is hard for me to put it in words. As Taekwon-Do practitioners, we are given this opportunity to meet others from all around the world through this World Championships held once every two years. Watching the competitors compete showed me how much time and effort they have put in to attain what they have.

Some of us exchanged numbers, email addresses, our jackets and doboks with other countries for remembrance and a token of appreciation.

During the sparring matches, I saw many competitors who never gave up though they had fallen and continued to spar with their indomitable spirit. We should all have this indomitable spirit in us as well as sportsmanship and strive to do our best.

The event ended with Cheongwan Governor’s reception and a farewell disco party.

I would like to thank ITF for organizing this World Championships 2010, congratulate all medal winners across the world, thank Master Daniel Sng and the entire Singapore team who went to the World Championships 2010, thank our wonderful guide Miss Kong Jae Hee who helped us a lot throughout the trip and everyone who made this event possible.

Taekwon.

Written by Ms. Justina Maria Sng, 2nd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore.
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2010

Country:
Republic of Korea

Venue:
Chungcheongbuk-Do (Cheongju)

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11th World Taekwondo Festival and Korea Classic Open 2010

I am honoured to be one of the ten members of Island Taekwon-Do Centre to participate in the 11th World Taekwondo Festival and Korea Classic Open 2010. It was held on the 30th of June to the 4th of July and was held in conjunction with the International Taekwon-Do Federation World Championships 2010.

We left Singapore on the 28th of June and arrived at Incheon International Airport on the 29th of June, one day ahead of the commencement of the Festival. We were greeted by our very dedicated guide, Jae Hee. The Festival, and the World Championships, was located in Chungcheongbuk-do. Our accommodation, unlike the previous Festival, was based in Chungbuk National University, which was also located within Chungcheongbuk-do.

It was amazing to see competitors from about sixty different nations coming together, regardless of the style of Taekwon-Do they practice. Having the competition here in Korea, the birthplace of Taekwon-Do makes the whole experience a lot more meaningful. The festival kicked off with a simple flag raising ceremony on the 30th of June, where the presence of all participating countries was recognised. As the Festival was held in conjunction with the ITF World Championships this year, we had a combined opening ceremony a few days later.

We kicked off the Festival with ITF patterns and WTF sparring. It was a great opportunity to witness how World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) practitioners sparred and hence compare and observe the similarities and differences both ITF and WTF have. Indeed, despite the differences, there are still many tips one can pick up from watching WTF sparring.

Apart from all the training and competitions, the team definitely had fun interacting with one another and taking countless photographs. I am certain that we all knew each other better after this two weeks long trip.

At the end of the Festival, we emerged victorious with one gold medal and three bronze medals. However, this victory is definitely not the player’s alone as all these cannot be accomplished without the guidance of Master Sng and Jonathan sir, our head coach. All of these will also not be possible without the support and well wishes of our friends and fellow practitioners back in Island Taekwon-Do Centre. So here’s a big thank you to everyone.

Written by Mr. Thian Chuan Kai, 2nd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore.
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2010

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