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)

8th Interschool and Asia Taekwon-Do Tournament

8th Interschool and Asia Taekwon-Do Tournament

Island Taekwon-Do Centre was invited by the Hong Kong Original Taekwon-Do Council to participate in the 8th edition of their Interschool and Asia Taekwon-Do Tournament on 16 and 17 December 2017. The team arrived on the 15th evening and was warmly welcomed by Windy Sir who drove us all the way from the west to the east of Hong Kong. Thank you, Sir!

As we were famished due to the extended flight, Windy Sir took us for supper after checking into our accommodation, Holiday Inn Express Kowloon East. We had clay pot rice “煲仔饭” and other dishes at a restaurant near Kwun Tong MTR. We retired to our rooms shortly after to prepare for the Grandmaster class the next day.

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The Grandmaster Class was conducted by Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls assisted by Master David Lau, Master Poon as well as Master Daniel Sng. The first half of the day was conducted for 4th degree black belts and above only. Yuki and I joined in the second half of the session which commenced after lunch.

The first and large part of the session focused on the basic Tuls (Patterns), Chon-Ji, Dan-Gun and Do-San. Grandmaster Nicholls emphasised on the need to activate the core when executing the moves by dissecting the Tuls into their individual movements. For example, Chon-Ji consists of Walking Stance Forearm Low Block, Middle Obverse Punch and L-Stance Inner Forearm Block. After numerous practice on each single technique, we then combined them together to complete the Tul. It was a timely reminder for us that we should not forget our fundamentals as we progress onto higher belts.

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The second part of the session was a self-defence sharing session by Master Daniel Sng. Sir shared a couple of locking techniques which awed the hall of Taekwon-Doists. As with each technique, the group broke down to smaller groups to learn and practice them. As we were slightly more familiar (though rusty) with the techniques, we helped to teach some of the participants the key points Sir was trying to emphasise in each move.

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The last part of the session was conducted by Master Poon from Hong Kong whom went through kicking drills and left our legs jelly-like after the session. The Grandmaster class ended with a quick summary of anecdotes and a run through the patterns by Grandmaster Nicholls. At the end of the session, we took the opportunity to catch up with our counterparts from Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong.

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We then proceed to have dinner at Tim Ho Wan near our hotel and soon returned to our rooms to rest (and complete our personal work) for the night in preparation for the competition the next day.

Competition day arrived and I was heartened to see the huge turnout at the venue with roughly 400 participants and over 200 parents and supporters. It was a testament of the strength of ITF Taekwon-Do in Hong Kong. The first half of the day saw the Children’s categories in patterns, team patterns, sparring and power breaking. Shaun Sir and Yuki Ma’am were helping as umpires in those categories while I took the opportunity to take some photos and observe the running of the competition (and also to catch up on some sleep).

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Soon enough, my category was called and I was matched with a group of young, talented and passionate Taekwon-Doist like myself! It was a humbling experience being able to compete alongside them and learning from observing them. I certainly have a long way to go!

After my event, the line-up got more exciting with adult sparring and power breaking. We stuck around and observed the competition before ending the day with more photo taking and contact exchange with our new-found friends. After all, networking with like-minded individuals is the best part of overseas events!

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We ended the day with having a simple dinner with Kenichi Nonaka Sir from Japan whom had to be at the airport early in the morning the next day. Thank you for spending your precious time in Hong Kong with us, Sir!

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This trip has been an amazing one to rekindle my passion in Taekwon-Do amidst the busy university schedule, especially training up towards the competition. It was an amazing experience competing amongst contenders from other parts of Asia once again (first time in 2011), and my wish is that more contenders from ITC can join me in the years to come! Meanwhile, with the invaluable knowledge and experience, it is time for myself to impart them to the Juniors!

Taekwon,
Justin Gan

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