The 5th WUKF World Championships for Children, Cadets & Juniors

THE 5th WUKF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR CHILDREN, CADETS & JUNIORS



On Tuesday October 14th, Karate Wales attended The 5th WUKF World Championships for Children, Cadets and Juniors, held in Poland.

This was the biggest and most prestigious event the majority had ever attended with 1600 competitors from thirty six countries in attendance. 

For the first time Karate Wales came up against squads such as Azerbaijan, South Africa, Egypt, USA, Afghanistan, India and Malaysia as well as the countries we've quickly become used to seeing; Romania, Italy, Slovakia, Denmark and of course England, Ireland and Scotland.



After a long journey to London's Stansted Airport, which is a long way past London when travelling from Wales, the delegation comprising twelve athletes, three coaches, a referee and eleven parents, took the flight to Szczecin, which is in the North of Poland very near the German border.

The Championships were split into categories for Children, Mini-Cadets, Cadets & Juniors.

The Children's events were further split into three age groups Children A: 6 to 8 years, B: 9 & 10 years and C: 11 & 12 years. 

Mini Cadets are 13 & 14, Cadets are 15-17 and Juniors 18 to 20 years.

The tournament lasted three days; Friday to Sunday, however much took place before the competition began.

Wednesday saw the President's meeting and Referees courses and on Wednesday and Thursday WUKF hosted two free karate courses.



The  majority of our Squad once again took advantage of the opportunity to train with the legendary Christophe Pinna, perhaps the greatest kicker that competitive Karate has ever witnessed.  



All enjoyed the session and came away with something to add to their repertoire of drills and combinations.

As much is happening on a political level at the moment; On behalf of the Karate Wales executive Committee; Lee Costa and Paul Watson also made the trip to gather information and joined Rob Copeland at the President's Meeting (more of which later) 

Both Sensei's Costa and Watson also donned their karate-gi's to train with Shotokan master Richard Jorgensen, newly elected President of the UWK (United World Karate)



Thursday eventing also saw the Opening  Ceremony, where our Squad proudly marched behind the Welsh Flag, always a memorable and emotional experience!

The crowd were treated to several performances, firstly cultural and martial, followed by an amazing laser-show and finally an awe-inspiring adrenaline rush of a motor cycle display which thrilled the crowd.

Alongside local and National dignitaries, the hugely popular and iconic Nobel prize winning Polish leader and activist Lech Walesa was the guest of honour, underlining just how important and prestigious this event was.

Children's events took up all of Day One, Friday; with proceedings in full flow over eleven areas.

Wales' first medal of the Championships came, perhaps predictably, from Chiara Baker (Vale) who took a Kata World bronze medal behind two Youngsters from AAU (American Athletic Union) USA (the constant chants of "A.A.U, U.S.A... A.A.U, U.S.A..." will haunt many of us for Months!) 



Chiara's medal further cements her standing in WUKF! 

In three International WUKF events, she has found the rostrum each time, with two European Golds and a World Bronze!

Sumaya Evans (Cardiff) another excellent youngster with bundles of potential, looked likely to earn a medal before a slight technical error was highlighted by a judge and Sumaya was marked down and out of the medals. Unfortunately Sumaya's exuberance got the better of her in her Kumite event, and she was disqualified for contact violations.

Aaliyah Wiley (Cardiff) like Sumaya an all-rounder who seems equally at home in both Kata and Kumite, couldn't reach the rostrum in Kata, but made amends by taking a Kumite Bronze! 



Max Baker (Vale) although not progressing to the latter rounds, looked much improved and certainly gave 100% in his Kata. He will be a stronger karateka for the experience!

Many of the Kumite categories were huge, needing two or four pools to find the medallists. Josh Davies (Ken Bu Kan) was in such a category. 

He was in great form and stepping up to the challenge of a World Championships, delivered five great performances! 

His four wins did nothing to diminish his energy and it took an excellent fighter to beat him in his pool final. 

In the closest of fights Josh lost, leaving him with a well deserved Bronze that could easily have been a Silver or Gold.



Jack George (Vale) had a tough first fight and although up against a very good opponent, Jack fought very well, he came from behind and was very close to a good win, before his opponent landed an ippon worthy kick.

Like Jack, Jacob Denham and Morgan Harvey (Ken Bu Kan) both fought well in tough categories and will use this experience to push them on.

Day Two, Saturday, was the domain of the cadets and Juniors.

Leah Copeland (Vale) veers from dream days to nightmares!

While in Poland she received news that she had received the 'Female Performer of the day' from the GB Open the previous week where she had won the Kata and came second in the Kumite.

This was the second such award this year, as she won the same award at the Shikon Open.

Leah certainly has the attributes to compete successfully at this level, as she has proven, and has made impressive strides over the last few Months, but has more work to do in order to find consistency.

She was unable to find the podium in either of her events, but will no doubt continue her impressive volume of training in her search for further  improvement.

Brandon Harvey (Ken Bu Kan) did well in both his categories, progressing to Sundays final in the Mini-Cadet Wado Kata final. 

Brandon was joined by Ken Bu Kan team-mates Sam Cana and Nathan Davies who both progressed to Sunday's Cadet Wado Kata final, Nathan in second place and Sam in fifth, a tribute to the all-round-ethos of Ken Bu Kan.

The Kumite events were full of excitement. 

Nathan, although not at his best, nevertheless progressed to the third round. On form he would undoubtedly have challenged for a medal, even at this level.

Sam was on fire, and needed to be, as his category was full of talent.

His match against a brilliant if temperamental Egyptian was a highlight of the whole competition, as Sam imperiously dealt with everything thrown at him to come out on top 4-1.  

His semi-final against a classy Belarusian was just as impressive, and Sam looked a good bet for a gold medal on Sunday.

Sunday's proceedings began with the 'March Of The Finalists' a proud experience for Brandon, Nathan and Sam.

Brandon's Kata performance was enough to earn him a bronze medal, the first of three Wado Kata medals won by Ken Bu Kan students highlighting the all-round ability in this squad!



Nathan and Sam were in the same 'Cadet Wado Kata' final and it was full of controversy.

The Portugese youngster who had entered the final in first place was disqualified, as the judges obviously came to the same conclusion as the Welsh Coaches... his Kata bore fewer hallmarks of Wado than it did of Shotokan!

As Sam prepared for the biggest match of his life, the Cadet Kumite final, it was announced that there had been a successful protest, the Portugese boy was reinstated, and the Kata final would be re-run!

If there were fears that the controversy would unsettle Sam, they were unfounded, though he was taken to sudden death by an almost equally skilful Romanian, he snatched the winning point to claim the WUKF World title.



Both Welsh boys gave good performances in the re-run Kata final, and then watched with mixed emotions, and a sense of disbelief as the Portugese karate-ka was once again disqualified!

Nathan's excellent Kata earned him the Silver medal, with Sam taking his second medal, a Bronze.



As we had hoped, this small squad again reinforced Karate Wales' arrival on the European and World Stages!

No longer are Wales considered the poor relations of British or European Karate, but recognised everywhere as a force to be reckoned with!

UNITED WORLD KARATE

The President's meeting on the Wednesday night which was attended by Rob Copeland, Lee Costa and Paul Watson, was extremely enlightening, as it was also attended by the new President of UWK (United World Karate) Mr. Richard Jorgensen. 

UWK is set to completely change the Karate landscape worldwide. 

The UWK brings a fresh approach as it encompasses all Karate! 

Traditional Karate groups who do not enter 'Sport Karate' competitions as we do, have been pushed to the sidelines for decades. This includes traditional Karate groups and the 'Contact' karate groups such as Kyokushinkai. 

These two groups have millions of practitioners! 

Mr. Jorgensen explained how originally, the International Olympic Committee gave Karate clear guidelines on how to be accepted into the Olympics, however these guidelines, which include welcoming all groups into membership and giving all groups competitive opportunities, were ignored. 

The result as we know, is that Karate has moved further and further from Olympic inclusion.

UWK, whose affliate groups include over one hundred countries representing millions of karateka intend once again bringing all groups under their umbrella, though of course, keeping their competitive events separate, and expect National federations who affiliate, to do the same.

Karate Wales will very soon start working towards this inclusive ideal.

Watch this space.

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