Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championships 2017

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championships 2017

From the 7th to 10th April, Island Taekwon-Do Centre (ITC) participated in the Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championships 2017 held in Ipoh, Malaysia. The team participated in various Individual Black Belt Patterns category and did well under the guidance of Team Manager and Coach, Madam Carnation Chai.

As we were all eager for the variety of food that awaited us in Ipoh, we started the trip with lunch at Penang Culture all the way back in Singapore Airport, before the flight to Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Ipoh. When we arrived in Ipoh, we were received by a short shower of blessing which lasted only the walking duration from the plane to the airport.

Soon after we settled down in our lovely hotel rooms, we headed out to explore the seemingly quiet town of Ipoh. Well, that wasn’t the case. In fact, we were hosted with warm smiles and great hospitality throughout our stay in Ipoh.

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (1)

We had dinner at ‘Lou Wong’ restaurant which served the famous Ipoh ‘Tauge Ayam’ (literal meaning: bean sprout chicken) before taking a digestive stroll to purchase snacks and subsequently retiring to our rooms to prepare for the long day ahead at SJK (C) Yuk Choy, the competition venue.

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (2)

When competition day came and we arrived at the hall, I was slightly thrown off guard by the massive turnout of approximately 850 passionate Taekwon-Doists, all eager and ready to compete. Although it is not an uncommon participating strength, it was first time I witnessed such a huge crowd in a competition! It was very heartening to see the martial art I love in such a flourishing state. The passion and indomitable spirit displayed by all competitors was something that could be emulated back in our Dojang.

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (4)

We were soon called to perform and we were met with strong competitors from all across Malaysia. Russell Seow (I Dan) was first to be called to compete in the Under 16 1st Degree Black Belt Individual Patterns, followed by Hubert Yong (I Dan) whom competed in the 1st Degree Black Belt Individual Patterns category and subsequently myself in the 3rd Degree Black Belt Individual Patterns Category. All of us did well in our individual categories and the experience and satisfaction gained was immeasurable. I’m sure we all had different takeaways from the experience from training until competition, but more importantly that of sportsmanship and sports excellence.

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (5)

After the competition, we treated ourselves to a sumptuous dinner at Jalan Sultan Ekram, or more famously known as ‘Tong Sui Kai, 糖水街’ (literal meaning: Dessert Street) before heading for some window shopping at Ipoh Parade Shopping Mall.

The next day, we took some time to visit Old Town Ipoh, which was host to a myriad of artwork and hipster cafes.

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (6)

We ended the long day with a “plan B”, since the traditional coffee shops that we originally intended to visit closes after noon. In fact, ‘Plan B’ is the name of the bistro situated in the middle of Old Town Ipoh which served delicious food (salted egg fries!) and, more importantly, thirst-quenching Asahi draft!

On the final day of our trip to Ipoh, we were honoured to be hosted by Mr. Khoo Bu Leong of Persatuan Taekwon-Do Negeri Perak despite his hectic schedule, post-competition. Mr Khoo kindly took us around the lesser known wonders of Ipoh, which included a river visit, cave visit, Dojang visit as well as good food from the famous Old Town Coffee Shop. They were indeed eye-opening for all of us, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. ITC would like to once again convey our heartfelt thanks to Mr Khoo and his club for the kind hospitality throughout the entire duration of the trip!

Martial Arts Taekwon-Do Championship 2017 @ Ipoh - Justin Gan (7)

The trip was a good mix of Taekwon-Do and recreation, which was a good time to know more about each other outside of training time. This is a hallmark of any ITC trip and I would strongly encourage members to join future trips to come! On this note, I would like to thank Madam Carnation Chai and Master Daniel Sng for making this eye-opening trip possible, as well as Hubert and Russell who make me feel younger with your company!

Taekwon,
Justin Gan

Written by Mr. Justin Gan, 3rd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2017

ANNUAL TAEKWON-DO CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017

ANNUAL TAEKWON-DO CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017

The Island Taekwon-Do Centre Annual Championships 2017 was a great experience for our family, and most certainly one of the highlights of our family life!

It was held on 25th March, in the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), as part of Island Taekwon-Do Centre’s 25th Anniversary events.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (1)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

2 years ago, it was just a dream for me (who had prior experience in Taekwon-Do 27 years ago) to even think of picking it up again. Today, not only has the whole family started training… all 4 of us took part in the recent ITC Annual Championships!

We started the day early, reaching the Indoor Sports Hall in SUTD by 7.30am for the weigh-in. The hall was big with 2 rings, a stage, and colourful, tiered bucket seats. We arrived in a light and festive mood, but then we noticed that the competitors from overseas who had arrived even earlier, had already changed into their doboks and were intently warming up, which made us realise how serious they were taking the competition! This made us want to take the opportunity to compete more earnestly.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (2)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

After the officials’ briefing, we were gathered to start the opening ceremony. Master Daniel Sng, our President and Chief Instructor, gave a speech, followed by Shaun Sir, the chairperson of the Championships. They gave us words of encouragement and a broader perspective on competitions and Taekwon-Do. Master Sng also gave out souvenirs to the overseas guests. It is also the first time that ITC has invited foreign participants to the Annual Championships.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (3)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

We then took the participants’ and umpires’ oaths, followed by a short demonstration by our ITC members. The demonstration turned out to be a skit of a young child and her mother fighting away robbers. It was both entertaining and amazing to watch our young Amber beating up 3 armed robbers!

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (4)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

After the demonstration, we were gathered to take group photographs, before kicking off the competition events with the Individual Patterns categories.

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First to go was the kids and they both had to compete in the Junior Individual Patterns categories. Competition from all the foreign participants was stiff. Our eyes opened to see how their every move, even at the junior levels, were precise, powerful and graceful. Our kids grew nervous, and my son, Luke even made a mistake. But thankfully, their hard work did not go to waste as they both received bronze medals for their respective events.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (6)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (7)

Shortly after, it was my turn up against fellow ITC compatriot Thomas, and I think we both put up a good fight! We were familiar with the ITC members’ styles as we had attended the competition trainings, but we definitely learnt a lot observing the foreign practitioners.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (8)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (9)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

Next up was the Team Patterns category where my entire family participated in, in two different teams. Each team comprised of 3 members and everyone had to perform their chosen pattern together with their coordinated movements. Out of the 9 teams, my OPT group was definitely the oldest amongst the kids and teenagers!

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (10)

We were mesmerised by our creative competitors, how they executed breaks and the various choreography, we never imagined possible. It was a most nerve-wrecking time for all of us, as we sat there, waiting for our turn. I had not felt this competitive stress for a long time! We did not win anything for this event, but learnt a lot and enjoyed watching the spectacular patterns display of each team. Congratulations to the teams who won this hotly-contested event!

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (11)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

The final category was the most anticipated – Sparring! My daughter, Faith was up first in the Junior Females’ group. I was very nervous and at the same time proud, watching intensely throughout all her matches as she managed to punch and kick her way to the gold medal!

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (12)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

We were watching and enjoying really close and intense fights in the various categories. Everyone was cheering for their favourite players and enjoying themselves both inside and outside the competition rings. Once again, we witnessed with wonder how the foreign participants fought, with different and effective fighting styles. Not discounting all our ITC competitors who also put up extraordinary effort in the rings. It was great to see everyone suddenly fighting a lot harder than they do in the dojang!

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (13)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

My sparring event was the last category of the day. I had a good match against fellow ITC competitor Dr Tan, who fought the better fight.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (14)Image Source: MLFoto / Fung Man Lok

As the other Ring already completed their matches, all eyes were on the exciting finals between Mr Thomas and Dr Tan where they tied in the first 2 rounds, having go into a third round! The two men fought even harder despite their exhaustion, and put on a really tough and exciting match. Dr Tan finally emerged the winner, amidst a chorus of cheers and high praise for both competitors’ valiant fights.

Annual Championships - Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh (15)

It was a truly enriching experience to see each of our family members taking part in all the different events. As parents, we beamed with pride seeing our two little ones being able to complete, much less compete in their various categories, and I am sure the other parents and coaches of the other participants were also proud of their participants’ performances!

There were many other important lessons to be learnt from all the visiting coaches and it was also good to see the high standards from the various countries.

Personally as a Dad, I am proud to be able to lead by example to take part in and even win some medals to encourage my kids.

We are very happy with the Annual Championships experience and want to thank Master Daniel Sng and all the organisers for hosting such an exciting and wonderful event. We are looking forward to attending more ITC events in the future!

Taekwon,
Mr & Mrs Stevean Goh

Written by Mr. and Mrs. Stevean Goh, 6th Gup, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2017

7th Hong Kong Inter-school ITF Taekwon-Do Invitational Tournament and Grandmaster Class

7th Hong Kong Inter-school ITF Taekwon-Do Invitational Tournament and Grandmaster Class

It was a great opportunity to be invited by Hong Kong Original Taekwon-Do Council to attend the Grandmaster Class and the 7th Hong Kong Inter-school ITF Taekwon-Do Invitational Tournament on 17th and 18th December 2016. Dennis Sir, Carnation Mdm, Russell and I departed for Hong Kong on 16th December afternoon.  Due to a flight delay, it was already 11pm by the time we reached our accommodation, EAST Hotel. Time for a good rest before the Grandmaster Class the next day.

As the Grandmaster Class would only commence in the afternoon, we went for a little shopping in the morning (just a little!). The organizer picked us up, and instead of sending us directly to the class venue, they invited us for lunch with other overseas teams from Australia and Japan at East Harbour Restaurant at Chai Wan, near the event location.

1Lunch in Hong Kong Style – Dim Sum and Seafood!

When we arrived at the event hall, all participants quickly changed into our doboks to get ready. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, Grandmaster Trevor Nicholls was unable to join us for the seminar.

2Getting ready and waiting for the class to start

The seminar kicked off with warm-ups conducted by different overseas instructors – Jodi Stanton Mdm from Australia, Kenichi Nonaka Sir from Japan, Derek Ma Sir from Hong Kong, to name a few,  while Master Daniel Sng guided us with fundamental movements and patterns up to Choong-Moo.

3We-fie with overseas teams in between breaks

After the break, Master Poon lead the class for kicking drills while Master Sng focused on self-defence techniques. Participants were particularly excited when several dagger self-defence techniques were demonstrated. Afterwards, we paired up enthusiastically to practice the techniques.

4Dennis Sir did a spectacular job as Sir’s partner during the self-defense demo that so many participants approached him for guidance

Although it may be just a short few-hours seminar, I am sure all participants had a great time and brought back with them a lot of valuable knowledge and memories. The Grandmaster Class ended at 6.30pm, and we were invited again by the organizers for dinner at Cheers Restaurant (Pier 88) at Heng Fa Chuen.

5(Photo credits to Kenichi Nonaka Sir)

On 18th December, the 7th Hong Kong Inter-School and Asia Taekwon-Do Invitational Tournament was conducted at the same venue. There were four rings set up, accommodating more than 300 participants. There were many exciting matches between different countries, and it was a pity we had to leave before the tournament ended as we had to catch our flight that evening.

6Besides Patterns, the Sparring matches also drew lots of attention from the spectators

Personally, it was my second overseas trip with ITC. The trip may be short but I have gained valuable experience and learned a lot from different instructors.  More importantly, I have made many new friends! I hope to see more and more ITC members join us for future overseas trips.

On behalf of ITC, I would like to thank the organizers, especially Master Lau for taking care of us and extending his great hospitality. I would also like to thank Master Sng for initiating the trip, and Carnation Mdm for coordinating our arrangements.

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8Grandmaster Class Certification Presentation on 8th and 10th January 2017

Taekwon,
Yuki Fung

Written by Ms. Yuki Fung, 2nd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2017

I’m A Champion! 2

I’m A Champion! 2

I'm A Champion (1)

On the 12th of August, Island Taekwon-Do Centre sent a cohort of competitors to participate in Zest Martial Art’s ‘I’m a Champion! 2’ Taekwon-Do Championship 2016. Held in Kuala Lumpur (KL), we chose to fly there, forgoing the inevitable traffic jam and accompanying neck trauma that came part and parcel with the overland route to KL. Whilst the flight was no less jarring, the journey gave us the chance to get to know each other in ways that our one-hour-a-week trainings could not. For me, it was through a shared fear of flying, whilst others bonded through simpler forms such as Joe Schooling or the mutual grunts that accompany Pokémon Go.

I'm A Champion (8)

We reached KL in good spirits and did our best to have our dinner, shower and unpacked quickly enough to have a good night sleep. Whilst some of us, namely Mark Sir, only had 3 hours of sleep due to terrible flight delays; he showed us all the next day, not only by staying conscious for a greater amount of time than I was able, but by also spending 12 hours judging heated sparring sessions and complex pattern forms.

The tournament, held in Sri KDU International School’s hall, was attended by many Malaysian states, and our Singapore team, with a total of about 500 participants. The categories were for Colour Belt practitioners of all ages, and junior 1st Dan holders (up to 15 years old).

I'm A Champion (7)

The competition itself was the usual blur of constant nerves, occasional excitement and a well-earned sense of achievement by all competitors. For me, competitions were always a telling moment for all individuals. In a competitive environment, the internal pressure of nerves and anxiety compound with the external uncertainties associated with competing against a complete stranger. Some hesitate and ball up, allowing the pressure to break their composure whilst others, despite these same pressures, come out of their shell to perform beyond expectations. Whilst I think all in our team displayed these traits, it was especially refreshing to note that our juniors David and Russell Sir especially embodied these qualities.

Overall, our four competitors managed to win a medal each in the respective pattern categories. Gina Lee Mdm won gold, while Russell Seow Sir, David Soh and I achieved bronzes. With Singaporean and Malaysian clubs competing and organizing assistance from Hong Kong, there was plenty of competition for both the young and old. Indeed, these medals and their accompanying achievements are lifelong and nothing to be sniffed at. Even so, I felt that this competition was overridingly defined as a wetting point for most of our competitors, for it was the first competition for many of us. If nothing else, it showed the immense potential for our team to go further and achieve greater things.

The overall champion academy was awarded to Martial Arts Taekwon-Do academy, from Perak, who brought a team of over 100 competitors!

I'm A Champion (9)

The next morning we had a picnic at a sky beach and pool, where we also had fun swimming, playing snooker, foosball and watching dramas on the mobile. We then proceeded to 1 Utama mall to have lunch and a bit of shopping before saying goodbye to Malaysia.

In conclusion, I would like to formally thank Zest Martial Arts Academy for hosting ‘I’m a Champion! 2’ Taekwon-Do Championship 2016. The efficient and flexible running of the tournament on the day itself bore testament to the countless hours that the hosts had invested behind the scenes. Alongside this, non-competing ITC members such as Carnation Chai Mdm, Mark Glendinning Sir, Shaun Chua Sir and Joel Mok Sir all deserve thanks. Without their contribution, either through coaching, training, administration or logistics, ‘I’m a Champion! 2’ would not have been half the wonderful experience it was. I would also like to thank Master Sng for arranging, training and giving us the opportunity to attend overseas events such as this.

Taekwon,
Jeremy Koh

Written by Mr. Jeremy Koh, 2nd Gup, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2016

Malaysia Taekwon-Do Open Championship 2014

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Taekwon,
Gordon Lodewyk

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

Elite Junior Taekwon-Do Championship 2013

Elite Junior Taekwon-Do Championship 2013

The Elite Junior Taekwon-Do Championship 2013 was held on 4th May at Prangin Mall, Penang.

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This trip was unique in the sense that not only was it the shortest trip I had ever been on, as well as how I was the only member of the club participating in the competition. After meeting up with Sir at Changi Airport, we had a quick lunch and departed for Penang. There, we were greeted by the amiable Mr. Wallace Tan and Ms. Celine Chin who drove us to our hotel.

Shortly after checking in, we wasted no time in making our way to a nearby coffee shop to enjoy prawn mee and Penang fried kway teow. Feeling satisfied, we journeyed back to the hotel to ready ourselves for dinner. Our two kind hosts soon fetched us from the hotel to bring us to the famous Gurney Drive for dinner, where we enjoyed good food like wanton mee, lok-lok and chendol. We were very grateful to our hosts for bringing us to these places.

After stuffing ourselves, we visited Mdm. Sharon’s dojang to observe the training. We were impressed by the dojang, which is much larger than the one we train in in Singapore. When the training ended, we were invited to supper by Mdm. Sharon, where we enjoyed drinks and a good conversation that lasted until midnight.

The next day was the day of the competition. Waking up early and being driven to Prangin Mall by our hosts, I felt slightly alien as all previous competitions had been in a school hall. Nonetheless, I lined up with the other participants and gave it my all during the competition. Unfortunately, I was unable to earn a medal, but I felt I had improved over the course of training for the competition. After the competition, we were driven to the airport by Mr. Kent Lim.

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Overall, I feel that the trip has been pleasant and helped improve my Taekwon-Do training. On behalf of Master Sng and myself, I would like to especially thank Mdm. Sharon Chan, Mr. Wallace Tan and Ms. Celine Chin for being wonderful hosts and making us feel very welcome with their hospitality and kindness.

Taekwon,
Gavin Soon

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

1st Zest Taekwon-Do ITF Junior Championship 2012

The 1st Zest Taekwon-Do ITF Junior Championship was held on Sunday, 18th November 2012 and Island Taekwon-Do Centre is glad to have been part of this event. The team which represented ITC comprised of Justin Gan sir, Gavin Soon, Russell and Hazel Seow, and me. This team was managed by Madam Carnation Chai, coached by Mr Shaun Chua and accompanied by Master Daniel Sng, Sabum Andrew Kung and Mr Norbert Strobel.

This journey began with our team departing from our dojang at 2pm, on Saturday the 17th in a comfortable minibus. It took us all the way to One World Hotel in Bandar Utama City Centre, Kuala Lumpur, stopping at a few rest and meal breaks where we had our first of many Malaysian cuisine meals, an eager highlight for all of us.

Upon our arrival, we checked in and settled into our luxurious hotel rooms, where Kelvin sir, a student of Mr Kong’s (Sir’s close TKD friend) kindly came to welcome and orientate us. We set off for dinner at the adjoining 1 Utama Shopping Centre without delay, having wonderful local-style cuisine such as Ipoh hor fun, char kway teow, chicken chop, and of course, teh tarik. After dinner, we went shopping for groceries, then thanked and parted ways with Kelvin sir before heading back for a shower and bedtime – trying to get as much rest as possible for tournament day!
The hotel provided a hearty breakfast: a huge buffet spread with many different international cuisines, but we participants were wary of our diet! Sabum Andy Low, President of Zest Taekwon-Do, kindly arranged for his students to drive us to the tournament venue, a school hall in Sekolah JK (C) Desa Jaya, a short ten minutes away. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the busy sight of competitors from the numerous different states of Malaysia, as well as fellow international participants Indonesia and Bangalore.

Once we had settled down and put on our doboks, Shaun sir led the team to warm up and practice. Soon enough, the first events were called and all of us excitedly watched Hazel performed in her category, Female Under 13 Individual Patterns, Grade 7 & 6. We were all ecstatic when she won her first round! Unfortunately, despite a commendable effort, her next opponent was declared the better of two. However, our whole delegation (and many umpires) was very proud of her strong fighting spirit and performance, being the youngest competitor ITC has ever sent for an overseas tournament at 6 years old!

Russell was up next in the Male Under 13 Individual Patterns Black Belt & Grade 1 category. He also put in a brilliant performance and clinched a Bronze medal for his efforts.

The Under 18 Black Belt Individual Patterns events were held a little differently – due to it being the most senior patterns category. Each competitor would only perform once, and be given a score instead of elimination method. Furthermore, the competitor would perform 1 by 1 on the whole ring!

Justin sir, Gavin and I went, respectively, in the Male event. The scores flew sensationally from the umpires’ hands. After the whole category went (about 12 of us), the umpires gathered for a tense minute at the judges’ table.. which from they announced that Justin sir and Gavin had tied scores for the Gold medal!

They subsequently performed a breathtaking tie-breaker round, while everyone watched on in awe of their razor-sharp technique – Gavin emerged victorious to much applause. In announcement of the results, we happily found that all three of us emerged with top scores in the event – Gold for Gavin, Justin sir with a Silver, and a Bronze for myself.

We managed to relax for a moment in preparation for the next event. It was time for the Team Pattern in the Under 18 Male Team Patterns Category, where the organizers had beforehand put in a special clause allowing participants from other categories (Russell and Hazel) to join. Our entire team consisting of Justin sir, Gavin, Russell, Hazel and myself had been training hard for this event, coached painstakingly for many weeks by Shaun sir and we hoped that we could do him and ITC proud. We performed with unshakeable focus on the steps, struck the difficult choreographies spectacularly and, most splendidly, displayed a high level of team connection. Our scores reflected our efforts generously, and we were awarded Silver among 6 teams.

After a light lunch (chicken rice!) they provided and an hour’s break, we all participated in our respective Jumping High Front Kick events. Hazel’s category was called first and she bravely flew to try and kick the target, despite it being really high for her! Next up was Russell, who put in a surprising effort and managed to hit the target for several rounds to win the Silver medal. Our Under 13 members had put forward an admirable performance and the Under 18 members were eager to do just as well. I went first and tried my best but could not make the first target’s height. Justin sir and Gavin did much better, progressing to the third round before Justin sir missed the target by hairs’ breadths.

The event climbed to an electrifying climax when Gavin had to go up in the finals against another amazing Bangladeshi opponent. They repeatedly hit the target round after round, and the umpires had to keep raising the bar. It was very exciting and the focus of almost everyone was on the pair as they scaled greater and greater heights – until the bar itself was stretched to its limit!

After about 6 or 7 kicks, Gavin, in a heartbreaking moment, missed the target and had to settle for the Silver. The friendly competitive spirit clearly came into view when they smiled and congratulated each other on a spectacular round of contest.

Seemingly concluded of all our events for the day, the next few hours was passed with us admiring the competition between the other teams while enjoying liberal amounts of ice cream treated by Master Sng. Andrew and Nobert sirs were very busy helping out as umpires, volunteering right from the morning.

Shaun sir, Justin sir and Carnation madam also graciously accepted to be umpire for the sparring events, which livened up the hall and made the competition grow especially intense with all the action. In the midst of all the events, there were several prize presentations, some of which were graced by Master Sng who presented medals to the deserving winners.

Not long after, we were surprised by one final contest remaining for Gavin – for the Champion of the Champion trophy!

This contest was between the all the diffierent categories of Under 18 Male Individual Pattern Gold medallists. Gavin was fatigued after the many hours of gruelling competition but he nevertheless gave his all in this final competition. Gavin’s prominent performance was reflected in his top scores again, but the Grade 1 & 2 gold medallist tied with Gavin and this became a moment of enormous tension as another tiebreaker round commenced – they had to both perform Yul-Gok together, and be judged by flag system. All could see that both participants had exemplary technique, so It was a really close battle between the two, but the team erupted in cheers when the 3:2 flags declared Gavin victorious, winning himself a coveted trophy. This naturally brought the whole ITC delegation enormous pride and satisfaction.

Several hours later, the final prize presentation began where Master Sng was invited to present prizes to all of the medallists. Team ITC had performed commendably and our medal tally spoke for itself:

1 trophy, 1 gold, 8 silvers, and 2 bronzes!

It had been satisfying to get to know and compete with so many distinguished practitioners from so many different places. Huge congratulations go to the Perak team, who brought home a huge trophy for being the delegation with the best medal tally in the entire competition. It was a nice experience to congratulate and thank each other at the end of the tournament and the exposure to these Taekwon-do practitioners was a very special and rare opportunity.

After the competition was over, we were tired and dirty but satisfied with our achievements. The competition was the culmination of our efforts and practice and we are glad that our training (evidently) paid off.

We then returned to the hotel, thanks again to Andy sir’s arrangements for transport. We set off for dinner in a Hong Kong-styled cafe, a bit of shopping and some television, trying to enjoy our remaining moments in Malaysia. After a satisfying evening and some good TV, our weary bodies collapsed into our comfortable beds. Or, in the words of Sir Justin, “knocked out as soon as we hit the bed”.

Our last day in Malaysia had arrived. After another lavish breakfast, we treated ourselves to a good time at the hotel’s pool where we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Naturally, after a warm shower, we were shopping (again!) and explored much more of the huge mall. We enjoyed ourselves and had a sumptuous lunch at Grand Imperial restaurant, before we began our road trip back to Singapore. Andy and Ivan sirs specially came to the hotel to see us off, and we thanked them profusely for their impeccable hospitality and great organization of the tournament, promising to see each other again in the near future.

On hindsight, I believe that the presence of such great company of the Sirs and Madams was what made this trip all the more pleasant, and am very grateful for the whole team looking out for each other, and giving each other the occasional meal treats.

I truly enjoyed myself and this entire experience has been rewarding, exciting and was a wonderful opportunity for us to work together, have fun and become closer knit not only as Taekwon-Do practitioners. I think it’s safe to say that everybody who was a part of this experience has benefited from and appreciated it.

Great thanks go to the organizers of this championship, Zest Taekwon-Do and it’s President, Andy Low sir for doing such a good job on their first tournament. Thanks to Shaun sir for his resolve and sacrifice in order to make sure our team was as prepared as we possibly can be and our team manager, Carnation madam, for doing a wonderful job of managing the team and keeping everyone in check. Thanks also go to Norbert sir and Andrew sir, for sharing this experience with us and giving us their precious time and guidance. Thanks to everyone, too, who has taken part in one way or another in order to make this entire trip as pleasant as it was. And of course, Master Sng, without whom we would not be here, practicing Taekwon-Do and furthering ourselves in every aspect.

Taekwon,
Hubert Yong

Written by Mr. Hubert Yong, Junior Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2012