Warriors are All Styles World Champions!!!

Warriors are All Styles World Champions!!!

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From ICKKF All Styles World Championships 2010

Warrior Tae Kwon Do’s recent winning streak shows no signs of faltering, with a series of landmark wins in Portugal this weekend. Seeking a fresh challenge for some of our top senior competitors, a team of 4, consisting of Green Belt Mark Tanner, Black Belts Dwayne Crowley and Aoife Sheehan and coach Barry O’Mahony, travelled to Torres Novas, Portugal to represent Ireland at the All Styles World Championships, hosted by the International Chinese Kempo Karate Federation.

The tournament, featuring styles as diverse as Kempo, Wado Ryu, Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Tang Soo Do and Kajukembo, and competitors travelling from as far afield as Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, commenced on Friday March 26th with the Junior World Championships. The Irish team, being composed entirely of senior competitors were able to use this day to take care of registrations and weigh-ins, while also taking in some of the Junior events from the stands of the enormous Palácio dos Desportos. Following an evening meal, they retired early to their accommodation at the local Police Academy barracks, in anticipation of an early start and a long day on Saturday.

Following Saturday morning’s opening ceremony, it wasn’t long before the day’s events got underway. Beginning with the forms (patterns) sections, competitors had the option of competing in hard-style (tae kwon do, kempo, shotokan, wado ryu, etc), soft style (tai chi, kung fu, aikido, etc) and weapons forms. Unfortunately none of the Irish members took prizes in the hard style forms section which were dominated by the Chinese Kempo groups, although Mark Tanner did manage to progress as far as the final 4 of his sections after 3 very impressive performances of Won-Hyo tul.

Mark was again thrust into Saturday’s action with the elimination rounds of the Continuous Sparring category for his grade. As well as having to contend with the various fighting styles of his opponents, Mark was up against far longer fight times than those of most tae kwon do competitions. With the clock stopped in time with each stoppage of the fight by the centre referee, the 2-minute time limit for rounds often stretched to 4 or 5 minutes. Each fight consisted of 2 rounds with a 1 minute break in between, forcing Mark to battle it out for almost 10 minutes per fight in the punishing Portuguese heat. Exhaustion, however, seems to be a concept totally alien to Tanner, as he soldiered on through the 3 elimination rounds to qualify for Sundays finals.

Unfortunately a technical glitch with the computerised organisation system brought the tournament to a total standstill for about an hour on Saturday afternoon. Due to the massive range of events taking place including Point, Conintuous Semi-Contact, Full Contact, Knockdown & Low-Kick Sparring and the huge variety in forms sections, this small error had a substantial knock-on effect. To put events back on track, the Black Belt sparring categories were postponed, to  be held the following day, so that the forms and self-defence categories could be finished up. This meant that the Irish team had the inconvenience of being at the arena until nearly 10pm on the Saturday and were quite tired as a result. Luckily the organisers, coaches and competitors at the event were some of the friendliest and most courteous people we have ever met at a martial arts event, and morale remained high in the Irish camp.

Rising at 6.30 on Sunday, our team set off once more for the stadium. This time everything ran very smoothly and the fights were coming up hard and fast. Mark’s point sparring section was first up and, although he got off to a slow start, with the points being even after Round 1, he soon settled into the style of fighting favoured by the judges and convincingly saw off his opponent before time was called. Unfortunately, Tanner’s luck ran out when it came to the final and he narrowly missed out on first place after a very brave display.

With a Silver medal already guaranteed for the Warriors thanks to Mark, the pressure was now on Dwayne Crowley to match his team-mate’s performance; and match it he did. Crowley’s display in the point sparring section was one of the finest of his sparring career to date. With fast kicking and intelligent use of the ring area, Dwayne stormed through his opposition to take a well-deserved Gold.

The continuous sparring did not go entirely in Dwayne’s favour, with his semi-final resulting in a defeat but all was not lost, because, having scored considerably more points in his semi final than scored by the other 3rd place candidate, he was awarded the Bronze medal.

Mark returned to the ring for the finals of his continuous sparring section and battled fearlessly through his semi-final, taking some heavy hits and sustaining a painful injury when his opponent’s elbow accidentally connected with the exposed area of his ankle between his shin-pad and foot-pad. The pain, however, did nothing to kill Tanner’s passion for battle and he secured himself a place in the final.

The final was, sadly, not to go Mark’s way. Although he fought passionately and cleverly, his opponent used his greater reach to secure victory with some well-placed kicks. The end result meant that Tanner took a second Silver for his sparring and finally got to rest up after a gruelling weekend.

Aoife Sheehan was the last of the Irish contingent to take to the floor for the weekend, being crowned World Champion in point sparring and, for her second time, taking a World Championship Gold for continuous sparring. The energy and precision in her sparring took her opponents by surprise, especially when her Portuguese opponent in the continuous sparring final walked directly into a perfect head-height turning kick towards the end of the fight.

Following the final events of the weekend, the tournament organisers provided dinner for all of the teams, followed by a party at the venue. The friendly atmosphere was still evident after the tournament as all of the teams mixed and enjoyed each others company, with email addresses and phone numbers being exchanged left, right and centre in hope of future meetings and continued friendships.

A sizeable crowd were assembled at Cork airport on Monday night to welcome home the tired but delighted team and congratulate them on their outstanding success.

Click here to see photographs from the ICKKF All Styles World Championships 2010.

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