13th January 2018 – English Kyu Grade Championsips

Ellie18Well Christmas has come and gone and we’re back onto the tournament trail. The first competition of the year is always the English Kyu Grade Championships. This is always difficult to predict where our squad is in the terms of fitness, so close to the winter break. We have tried our best with a few training sessions in between Christmas and New Year and a know the circuit training has been of great benefit.

For those who have read my reports in the past, this is always my least favourite competition. This reflects the size of our squad this year, Sensei Mark and myself decided that we would only take the athletes who could potentially win medals, this would make our job slightly easier on competition day and give more of our focus on the guys who have been selected. Using the open competition to develop our club squads and a selection process to represent the association, I think this will be our blue print for the next few Kyu Grade Championships because certainly this time it seemed to be working.

I try not to be too negative at the start of the year but there was so much going on around me at the competition, and I was not happy. I was asked last year at the Senior English Championships about the Leicester Arena as a venue for our national competition, at the time it seemed to work but I stressed it would be inadequate for the Kyu Grade Championships and so it proved.

I can only speak for myself as a coach and not as a paying spectator but behind the curtains in the warm up area, it was complete carnage. Getting around the areas was a nightmare, how Sensei Mark and myself didn’t miss any bouts was a miracle. We are always trying to make our sport as professional as possible, don’t know how many times I saw referees picking up coaches on the length of karate suits either to long or to short. My concern would be the bigger problems, six-meter areas, mirror judges and a basic error, just turning the score boards around so the paying customer can actually see them.

The karate tournament scene is as healthy as I’ve seen it for such a long time, and I would like to thank everyone involved in the running of the event but for us to go forward, we need more investment in the grass root competition. It can’t be right that a top World and European Official are stuck in the warm up room trying to locate competitors in a crowd of athletes. I’m sure there was enough money made on the day to pay admin staff, so that our best officials can be working on the competition areas so at least we have three referees not two. (WKF rules say there should be five).

Finally, onto the days report, we’re definitely moving forward with the development of our kata squad. The hard work Sensei Kelly Horsfall and Sensei Natalie Payne have been doing with our squad is starting to come to fruition, most of our athlete progressed through many rounds. This year we didn’t quite get the rub of the green, making four finals and not winning a single one and in most cases, only being beaten 2-1, little frustrating! On another day the results could have been reversed. One huge positive was that George Donne and Sarah Whittaker our debutantes made their first English finals. Ellie Payne was her usual consistent self, again only to fall at the last hurdle taking the silver. Ellie was also part of the team with Ellie Costin and Ben Gwyer, yes another second placing, I think we have to be happy with that result, as we found it difficult over Christmas to get the guys in the team to train together. Our final medal, a bronze probably came from our most improved kata participant, Ellie Costin. I’ve no doubt her time will come. Every time I see her perform she just gets better and better and I can see her growing in confidence in each competition and developing that kata elusive aura.

IRjeon_kyu18 know some of our Yanagi Kai clubs especially at Sensei Mark’s and Cheyne’s have had a great last few years but down here at Sale Dojo we have struggled a little to find our next superstar. Green shoots have been threatening to show but at last I feel confident we are finally on the way with a Gold medal from Luke Brigham. I spoke to Tony, Luke’s dad about twelve months ago in regards to his training and I felt his effort and attitude was superb but he wasn’t getting the rewards I felt his hard work deserved. I told Tony that he had to be patient with him and for Luke to keep his head down and the results will come, a conversation I’ve had with many parents over the years. We have produced dozens of champions at the dojo and advised Tony to get Luke to stick with the programme and work hard and the rewards will finally come. I suppose what I’m trying to say is “You only get out what you put in”. We had the club moto “The fight is won in-between the point”, basically this means work hard in training, in-between the bouts and competitions. If you show the same dedication and work ethic as Luke with no distractions from other sports and you’ll reap the rewards. It’s very simple, you need to train hard, listen to your coaches and turn up for every kumite lesson, it’s as simple as that.

We managed to take the first three placings in Luke’s section, boys 12 -13 -45kg Ben Gwyer silver, and Rjeon Waldrond the bronze, this is very satisfying at this critical age group. If we can maintain this progression we should have the next England representative in our midst.

Very much like our kata squad we progressed through lots of rounds, Joe Harte from Red Sun took the title in the under 9 category, I must admit this was a nice bonus, as it’s the first time he’s competed at the senior level, Joe fought brilliantly getting better round by round, biggest smile of the day.

kyu grade18Another great achievement from our girls team getting to a final but then the disappointment of falling at the last hurdle taking the silver in the girls 10 to 11 , but I’m sure Kitty, Willow and Tahlia will learn from the experience.

We also took two other individual bronze medals Sam Kirkman and Reece Allen both fighting extremely well, another two team bronze medals in the boy 10 to 11 and 12 to 13 categories this showing the strength and depth of our kumite squad.

I think an overall summary of our weekend is very positive, with the progression of our young athletes is outstanding, I think finally the coaching structure is starting to reap the benefits of their hard work. So nice to see our junior coaches Niamh, Lucy and Lydia giving up their time traveling down to Leicester to support our squad.

Two gold, six silvers and six bronzes is a great return on our twenty-four students involved.  Thanks to all who helped prepare our Yanagi Kai squad for these championships.       



Silver Ellie Payne – female 12 to 13 3rd kyu and above
Silver Sarah Whittaker – female 12 to 13 4
kyu and below
Silver George Donne – male 12 to 13 4
kyu and below
Silver Ellie Payne,Ellie Costin, Ben Gwyer – 12 to 13 team kata
Bronze Ellie Costin – female 12 to 13 3
kyu and above



Gold Luke Brigham – male 12 to 13 3rd kyu and above -45kg
Gold Joe Harte – male 9 years and under 3rd kyu and above
Silver Ben Gwyer – male 12 to 13 3rd kyu and above -45kg
Silver Willow Wood, Kitty Woods, Tahlia Blake – 10 to 11 team kumite
Bronze Sarah Whittaker – female 12 to 13 4th kyu and above
Bronze Rjeon Walrond – male 12 to 13 3rd kyu and above -45kg
Bronze Sam Kirkman – male 12 to 13 3rd kyu and above +45kg
Bronze Daniel Bartoletta, Sam Eagle, Isaac Lilly – 10 to 11 team kumite
Bronze Ben Gwyer, Sam Kirkman, Rjeon Walrond – 12 to 13 team kumite
Bronze Reece Allen – male 9 years and under 3rd kyu and above