My First Overseas Taekwon-Do Competition: Kuala Lumpur 27-28 October 2018

My First Overseas Taekwon-Do Competition: Kuala Lumpur 27-28 October 2018

Day 1. We arrived at the competition venue, Stadium MPSJ Serdang Jaya at 8am, where I was given my number tag. Looking around me, I saw many participants warming up and getting ready for their respective events. Their ages ranged from as young as 5 years old to adults above 40. They were all wearing the ITF Dobok. With more than 950 participants, the stadium was filled with people from as many as seven different countries such as Indonesia, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Bangladesh and China. The Malaysian contingent was represented by many participants from various states.

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We watched as the events started with Colour Belt Patterns, where Shaun Sir and Carnation Ma’am were helping to umpire with. There was a total of 6 competition rings, and the stadium was thronging with activity by participants, umpires, officials, coaches, and supporters!

The Opening Ceremony started at 11am. The opening speech by Master Lau struck a chord with me. He was very encouraging, and told all the participants that during his tenure he hopes to see all of us to grow up to be more successful, and a better person tomorrow.

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Together with all the masters and coaches, we all gave a loud cheer of “I’m Champion!” to signal the start of the competition.

Although there were many participants, I was not feeling nervous at first. In fact, I was feeling excited to be part of the competition. Watching the competitors in the Colour Belt Patterns, I was impressed with their precise and accurate movements. I thought that the Team Patterns were the most impressive, where many creative choreography was displayed.

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Enjoying some time with my mum at Mines Shopping mall just beside our hotel – Top Holiday Hotel.

Day 2. I was feeling quite nervous as this was the day of my event and I would be competing against other more experienced Black Belt holders. Among the competitors, I could recognise some familiar faces. I remember them because they came to Singapore in March earlier this year, to compete in our ITC Championships.

As soon as I entered the stadium, our age group was called to gather. My heart was in my mouth as I did not expect my competition to start so soon. I didn’t even have time to warm up properly. Thankfully, Carnation Ma’am encouraged me and gave me the confidence that I could do it.

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Despite trying to keep myself as calm as possible, I was still extremely nervous and although I started well, I forgot parts of my pattern in the middle of my routine. I was extremely disappointed with my own performance. I was determined to train even harder to prepare more for the future competitions. Carnation Ma’am also reminded me that winning was not everything and it was the experience that mattered the most.

Soon after, there was an announcement from the organisers for participants to join the Sparring competition. I realised that I had another chance to compete. Although I had not sparred for more than 6 months, I wanted to give it a try. After consulting with my coaches and mum, I decided to take part. My sparring coach Shaun Sir gave me a rundown of sparring tips and short practice, then I went straight into the competition.

I tried my best and we fought a good match. I was happy to receive a Bronze medal, and glad to make new friends with my fellow sparring category mates. I am also very grateful to Zest Martial Arts team for lending me a set of sparring gear.

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The events in the afternoon were the most exciting to watch, as the adults and Black Belt Sparring competitions drew lots of crowds and cheering. They were displaying a lot of good techniques and different styles, and I learnt a lot from watching them.

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We ended the day with a scrumptious Malaysian local dinner with many of my favourite dishes like satay and fried chicken wings at Jalan Alor night market.

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The next day, we went shopping at Mid Valley Megamall and had a relaxing lunch with my mum and coaches.

This was an unforgettable experience and I am thankful to have such support from my coaches and my mother. I would also like to thank Master Sng for his encouragement, training and guidance. They really helped me through this whole learning experience.

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Thank you Master Sng, Shaun Sir, Carnation Ma’am and my dearest mummy!

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Taekwon,
Gabriel

Written by Mr. Gabriel Chong, Junior Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018

3rd Annual Everest Open Championship 2018

3rd Annual Everest Open Championship 2018

In September 2018, Island Taekwon-Do Centre was honoured to participate in the 3rd Annual Everest Open Championship and Master’s Seminar in Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu’s small airport, we were caught up in a whirlwind of activity. We were warmly greeted by Ang Temba and Ngima Sherpa, friends and supporters of ITC, in Nepal.

Our new friends whisked us expertly through the busy airport and, together, we began our journey by car to Dhulikhel to meet our competitors and hosts. As we drove, we climbed up, and out of the Kathmandu valley in the dark of night. Ang Temba and Ngima taught us a few Nepali phrases and gave us a bit of history about their small nation. When we finally arrive in Dhulikhel, we collapsed into our beds after our long journey from Singapore, which was two time zones ahead.

On our first day in Nepal, we were greeted by a stunning 180-degree panorama of the Himalayan range. As we wandered over to enjoy a hearty breakfast with Ang Temba and Ngima, chanting and incense from the Buddhist ashram filled the air, next door. The four of us enjoyed our coffees on the hotel balcony, as eagles wheeled in the air and clouds rolled over the mountains. Our Nepalese adventure had barely begun and we were already spellbound!

After breakfast we changed into our doboks and proceeded to the function hall where we were greeted by Mr. Basnet, President of ITF Nepal, Master Yogi Chand, who had come from the UK to lead the seminar, and our fellow competitors from Nepal and India. When the 200 or so of us were called to attention and shouted “Taekwon!” the excitement in the room was palpable.

Master Chand started his seminar with patterns and proceeded from lower to higher-ranking colour belts. Black belts and international instructors performed the patterns with each group of colour belts giving other color belts an opportunity to work with a range of instructors and to receive guidance. By the end of the morning, the colour belts had completed their patterns and the black belts had been put through their paces.

After lunch, Master Chand moved on to three-step and two-step sparring before dismissing the colour belts and continuing with black belts. The seminar offered valuable knowledge about techniques and served as an opportunity to meet and train with fellow Taekwon-Do-ists from dojangs in Nepal, India and the Netherlands. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, the children were especially interested in us newcomers, and over dinner we even had the chance to get to know our fellow competitors better.

On our second day in Nepal the competition began. Once we had our breakfast, we climbed the hill on which the Mirabel Hotel is built, and arrived to see a breathtaking marquee tent, gleaming golden in the sun. Around 150 children from all over Nepal had come together that day and each and every one of them awed us with their enthusiasm and dedication as they sparred and performed patterns.

Nepal 2018 (5)

While I was umpiring with the other adult black belts, Tabatha made friends with the local children, learned their names and practiced patterns with them. When the children were done with their category, the adult colour belt category commenced.

Nepal 2018 (1)

As Tabatha performed Dan-Gun, her new friends cheered her on. We broke for the day as the sun began to set behind the mountains and the shadows crept long over the tent. At dinner we relived the day’s excitement and got to know each other a bit better over a delicious Nepalese meal.

Nepal 2018 (3)

On day three, it was the black belts’ turn. As the experienced competitors wowed the tent with their techniques, enthusiasm began to build. By lunchtime, as the under 14 black belts were finishing up, the tent was abuzz with excitement.

Dylan performed Yoon-Sin for the patterns portion of his competition and, as he readied himself for sparring, clouds rolled in and the sky darkened. As if on cue, a storm swelled as the adult black belts walked onto the mat for the first sparring match. Dylan opened the match with a dramatic display of technique and as he did, the crowd leapt to their feet cheering! The spectators’ cheers continued as the match grew more thrilling, and the rain pressed everyone into the tent. Thunder and lightning made a dramatic soundtrack for the last match, which was followed by a show of traditional Nepalese dancing.

After the matches, we had the medals ceremony, which was a joyous occasion as the rain pounded the tent. The national minister of forestry presented the awards to the winning competitors and the local press took photos and videos. We were very proud to have represented Singapore and we both took home medals; Tabatha won a silver for patterns, her very first competition medal, and Dylan won a gold for sparring, gold for patterns and a trophy for best overall male player.

Nepal 2018 (2)

After their speeches, Mr. Basnet and Master Chand closed the ceremony by calling us all to attention. Together in one voice, several hundred of us bowed and shouted “Taekwon!”.

Dinner at The Mirabel that evening was relaxing and cheerful as we traded contact information with the other teams. On the following morning, Mr. Basnet took us to visit the beautiful Thrangu Tashi Yanftse Monastery, high on a hill overlooking the valley. As we toured the monastery and explored the trail across the ridges, we learned about the site’s history; a 6000 year old Buddhist legend. Of course we also posed for pictures with our new friends and even performed some patterns by the stupa at the top of the hill!

Nepal 2018 (4)

We were honored to visit Mr. Basnet’s home, where we had the most delicious spiced tea, and then returned to Kathmandu where we were treated to momos and other home cooked Nepalese food by Ang Temba and Ngima. We were delighted to visit their home and hear their stories of growing up in the shadow of Mount Everest.

Our last few days in Nepal were spent as tourists. Although we saw many amazing temples and museums, the most memorable experiences of the trip were those spent with the friends we had made at the competition and seminar. We look forward to the next Everest Open!

Taekwon,
Dylan

Written by Mr. Dylan Coughlan, 3rd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018


Check out Dylan’s sparring match here: Adult Black Belt Sparring FINAL Match (SG vs IN)

Visiting Island Taekwon-Do Centre and the Special Joint Training Session on 11 March 2018

It was a great honour to be invited to the Island Taekwon-Do Centre Anniversary Championship and 26th Anniversary Dinner again, as I truly enjoyed the opportunity last year, representing ITF Matsumoto.

The Championship was quite a spectacular event, growing bigger than last year. It is a wonderful opportunity to exchange technical expertise as quite a number of different ITF organizations from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan were present.  

The Anniversary Dinner is always a delightful experience with many friends and family gathering to celebrate together. There is always fun events and delicious food that adds to our conversations that we never want to end, and time always feels too short.

The following day, on 11 March, I went to the ITC dojang from midday and was joined by Mr. Yasuo Tsuda, III dan, and Ms. Jules Takagishi, III dan, as well as Ms. Takagishi’s children. Master Spiridon Cariotis from Australia was also present as many ITC students of all ages and ranks gathered for the joint training session from 1 pm.

I was told that on normal Sundays, ITC students train from the morning, but as it was the day after the Championship and Anniversary Dinner, the training was combined into an extended afternoon session.

Master Daniel Sng invited Master Cariotis, Ms. Takagishi, and I split the class into three parts to share some of our training exercises with the group. It was my honor to take the second session.

The first session was led by Ms. Takagishi of ITF Hyogo JAPAN. The Chief Instructor there is Sabum Jong Sa Park, VI dan, who unfortunately could not make the trip this time. She led the class in stretching and various exercises focusing on keeping one’s balance with kicks and punches that were very well thought out and thorough. I observed that all the students were using their whole bodies and warmed up nicely, working up a healthy sweat. Ms. Takagishi’s enthusiastic guidance was very good as spurring everyone on. “Put your heart into it!” she shouted as we all kicked and thrusted.

I had the next session. I drew on what I observed at the Championship the day before and what I see often at overseas competitions – lots of punching. So I introduced exercises to train the eye to see the punches and to react quickly with blocks. The exercises were done in pairs, and we asked the adult students to keep changing partners so that they could continuously be on alert and not get too used to their partners.

I was impressed that everyone understood the objectives well and were able to execute the drill well. It was obvious that the ITC students train hard and well regularly, and they are able to focus on the objectives to get the most out of the sessions. Their solid foundation enables them to enjoy new challenges and master new skills quickly.

My English continues to be terrible, so I was grateful that Ms. Takagishi, who is fluent, volunteered to interpret for me. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to her for not just interpreting what I said, but supplementing my words so that subtle nuances were not missed. (There are so many people at ITC who are studying Japanese, I am never deprived of help. It destroys any incentive I may have to learn English, but I am very grateful for the support I receive from such ITC members as well.)

Last but not the least was Master Cariotis’s session.

I heard that Master Cariotis is a gold medalist in Special Techniques at a World Championship.

The session covered a wide range of topics including sparring techniques with emphasis on the importance of positioning, and many self-defense applications of the movements we learn in patterns.

I felt that every instructor not only shared his/her knowledge and experience, but also shared so much energy, passion, and sense of enjoyment. The explanations were thorough, and as a result, we went over the scheduled two hours by another hour!

I am working on sharing what I learned on this trip with my ITF Matsumoto members as I was able to take back many new ideas and exercises.

I am very grateful to Master Daniel Sng, who makes sure that we have the precious opportunity to learn from each other every time I visit. I would also like to thank all my friends at ITC from the bottom of my heart for making me feel welcome every time. Such experiences reinforce my great joy in sharing the journey of studying Taekwon-Do, this wonderful common path, with such generous people.

Taekwon,
Keni-chi

Written by Mr. Ken-ichi Nonaka, 6th Degree Black Belt, ITF Matsumoto, JAPAN
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018