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National Championships - 26th April 2003

National Championships 2003

The 2003 National Championships were overshadowed by the sad loss of our Chief Instructor, Sensei Enoeda. In the words of announcer Wai Yin Hatton, the event became a 'celebration of the man' as the KUGB's top competitors came head-to-head. More than 550 competitors turned up at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham for a day of action and celebration.

The day's competition ran extremely smoothly. At 10am sharp, all 12 competition areas were in use for the day's eliminations, keeping the event running on time. By 5pm the finals were starting and after many exceptionally close elimination rounds it looked to be a magnificent evening.

The demonstrations were of the usual high standard. The crowd were treated to an application of Unsu, given by JKA European Grand Champion Jemma Mitcham. Later in the evening, we saw an amusing demonstration given by last year's Grand Champion Matthew Price and team-mate Guy Noble, with an oscar-winning guest appearance by squad member Duncan Randall who was scared off the area with one scowl!

In amongst the children's events, brothers David and Peter Williamson (Picton) lined up against each other for the under 5 foot boys' kumite title, just edged by David, despite the referee almost awarding the victory early through the confusion of the brothers both scoring waza-ari and both looking the same!

Children's Kata was as popular as ever and was won convincingly for the second year running by Alan Hesketh (Red Triangle) with a smooth performance of Sochin. Hisham Saif, (Picton), last year's Ippon Kumite champion, took second place with another strong Sochin.

The senior events were the source of much discussion this year due to the amazing closeness in each category. The most convincing senior win was in Female Kata where Jemma Mitcham (Hoku Shin) put in an excellent performance of Goju Shiho Sho to keep Vicky Phillips' (Manchester University) Kanku Sho in second. Third place was awarded to Paula White (St Helens) for Goju Shiho Dai, and Kelly Perry (Sendai) took fourth place for Sochin.

The Male Kata final was such a hard-fought category that even getting into the final needed some thought as to whether to use your best kata in the semi final or save it for the evening. Christian Whale (Porthcawl) put in a clearly improved performance of Unsu to give him third place, 0.1 ahead of Lee Lamb (Gatehead). Judging the difference between last years champion Matthew Price (Leeds Karate Academy) and Stuart Gordon (Manchester University) was not a job that many people envied. In the end, it was again just 0.1 which divided the two in a final as close as their last 2 Grand Slam encounters. Matthew Price pulled out all the stops with a powerful Unsu to take the title for the second time, putting Stuart Gordon's Gankaku in second place.

Vicky Philips (Manchester University) was in action for a second time in the evening in the Female Kumite semi-final where she met last year's champion, Zoe Campbell (Warwick University), in a tight punching match-up. Campbell looked as confident as ever but was met by two chudan gyaku-zukis as she charged forward, looking for the points.

In the second semi-final Vicky Mulhearn (Halewood) was beaten by Shareena Edmonds (SKC Budokwai) with two more chudan gyaku-zukis to set up a final between herself and Phillips.

In the final, Vicky Philips and Shareena Edmonds looked evenly matched. Early on in the fight, Philips tried a clever combination, disturbing Edmonds with a foot sweep then following up with a double mawashi-geri, which just missed. It was Edmonds though who took the first waza-ari, scoring with a quick gyaku-zuki, before following up with another towards the end of the match to finish the fight and take the winner's medal back to London.



In the senior Team Kata, Manchester University took their fourth consecutive title for Sochin, despite having to find a last-minute replacement for Dean Field, who was unable to compete at the championships due to injury. Second place went to Katsura for Nijushiho. Third and fourth places went to Merthyr Tydfil for Sochin and Cambridge University for Enpi respectively.

John James Bruce (Ashington) and Lee Lamb (Gateshead) fought it out for the Male Junior Kumite 18-20 title. The fight got off to a lively start with both fighters clashing simultaneously with chudan punches. Bruce was the first to score with a chudan gyaku-zuki, leaving Lamb to do all the chasing. Lamb was unable to even up the scores, so when time ran out the title went to Bruce.

The Female Team Kumite carried on the night's theme of close match-ups as Sendai took on Dunfermline for the top spot. The first match between Caroline McGrath of Sendai and Jennifer Madden ended in a draw, with one waza-ari each.

Kelly Perry then came up against Caroline Shaw of Dunfermline in the second fight. Perry took a convincing win, scoring with two chudan gyaku-zukis. In the final fight, Jill Nicholson from Sendai took on Lara Gray. Gray managed to even up the scores with two well-timed chudan punches, leaving the team title hanging on a knife-edge as both clubs chose their fighters to go out for the decider.

In the decider, Kelly Perry proved a handful for the Dunfermline fighter Madden, as Perry scored two waza-aris with gyaku-zukis, taking the title back to the north-east.

After an early loss in last year's Senior Male Kumite, a lot of people were wondering what had happened to 4 times champion Julian Cunningham (Kaizen). He chose to answer his critics by scything through the elimination rounds and into the semi-finals. From his first fight in the morning, Cunningham was slamming in the mawashi geris, and intimidating his opponents. So, what would happen in the first semi-final between two previous champions: Julian Cunningham versus Matthew Price?

From the outset both competitors looked like they meant business. Price was just short of scoring an early point when Cunningham unleashed a fast chudan mawashi-geri attempt, which Price dodged and immediately returned a jodan mawashi-geri that just skimmed past. The first point went the way of the Leeds fighter as Price used a smooth double step avoiding an oncoming attack and shooting out a quick gyaku-zuki to the head. Shortly after, the two clashed with jodan punches but Cunningham's attack came too hard, sending Price to the floor. Julian Cunningham was disqualified and Matthew Price was unable to continue after doctors ruled out any further participation.

So the second semi final effectively became the final; the winner between Greg Heggarty (Ruach) and the 2002 finalist Aissa Adjadj (SKC Budokwai) would take home the kumite title. As Adjadj was bidding for his first individual title, Heggarty clearly had other ideas, shifting in quickly for a reverse punch. After the restart, on-form Heggarty proved he was worthy of the title with a second lightning punch to give him the victory.

The last event of the evening was the Male Team Kumite where the Shotokan Karate Centre Budokwai team lined up opposite Kushiro for the trophy. First up was Michael Davidson (Kushiro) against individual bronze winner Aissa Adjadj (SKC Budokwai). Adjadj scored the first point with a quick shift and low gyaku-zuki, but was met shortly after by an exceptionally timed jodan punch. Adjadj did it for the team though as he finished an excellent day's work with another chudan reverse punch. 1-0 Budokwai.
Fight number 2 was a tight match as the Budokwai's Hamilton was looking for the win until a second from time when Kushiro's Olver put in a strong mawashi-geri to tie the match-up.

The final fight however seemed one too many for young fighter Stephen Hooberry who despite taking the fight to time lost by one waza-ari and the judges decision. The team title went fittingly to Sensei Enoeda's own club: SKC Budokwai.



And so ended the day of close matches with another event that went to the wire. The Wilkinson Sword was awarded to Matthew Price, after taking home gold and Silver in Kata and Kumite, respectively, and the Tony Francis Memorial Rose Bowl went to a new champion, Greg Heggarty. And with a lot of the night's finalists being young competitors, it looks like we could have quite a few close National Championships to come.

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