South Devon Clubs Among Medals at TAGB Championships
The Korean martial art of Tae Kwon-Do took over Torbay Leisure Centre on Saturday 5th October, with over 400 competitors, from as far away as Yorkshire, contesting the TAGB Southern Championships.
An early winner for Tae Kwon-Do Torbay instructor Andy Saunders was Skye Kelly (pictured, left) who won bronze for her performance in the Girls’ Yellow Belt Patterns. Taek Won-Do patterns are combinations of movements that demonstrate some of the combat techniques used in the art. Not only do the competitors have to impress the judges with their technique, they also have to convince them that the student would be effective in a real-world encounter.
There was also success in the Patterns for Torbay father and son Richard and Harry Sloggett, with Sloggett Junior winning household bragging rights by taking home a silver to his father’s bronze.
In the Black Belt Patterns, Torbay’s Ben Fry was happy to scoop a bronze on his home turf.
“In South Devon the scene is definitely growing. There are a lot of enthusiastic instructors down here.” – Peter O’Neill (MartialArts4Fun)
Of course, no martial arts tournament would be complete without the sparring, and there was plenty of combat action to get the spectators on the balcony in the mood. In this respect, Tae Kwon-Do’s most distinguishing feature is its focus on kicking as the main weapon of attack.
Before reaching blue belt standard (the seventh grade), the junior sparring is contested in a ‘point stop’ format. Rounds are only one minute in length (one and a half for adults), and the contest is stopped after every point-scoring move to ensure both competitors are happy.
Points are accrued for strikes to the head (one point), kicks to the body (two points) and kicks to the head (three points); the winner is either the first to reach ten points or the one who is ahead after the time is up.
From blue belt and upwards (the senior grades), the format changes to an open contest with corner judges. The four judges are equipped with point ‘clickers’ and red and blue coloured ribbons, while the combatants are given, if necessary, an additional red or blue belt. At the end of the contest, the judge awards his or her decision by holding up one of the ribbons (or sometimes both); three of the judges have to award the fight the same way before a winner can be declared.
As well as the standard sparring, there was tag team sparring, a fast-paced competition where combatants tag out, to be replaced by a teammate, after a period of time or combination of moves. This event saw Will Chan of Tae Kwon-Do Torbay seal another silver for Torbay. The South Devon club may not have reached the leaderboard but their three silvers and three bronzes were a respectable haul for a small contingent of only 15 competitors.
MartialArts4Fun were more heavily represented, and their 43 competitors returned with their year’s best total of 38 medals. Two MartialArts4Fun clubs placed equal third (Teignmouth) and equal fifth (Newton Abbot) respectively in a final table that saw Exeter Eagles emerge as the resounding winners (full table will be in Sport South Devon Issue 15, out December 2013). Among the Teignbridge medal-winners was starlet Shawna Ball who scooped gold in the tag, silver in the Black Belt Patterns and bronze in the lightweight sparring. Shawna was also the youngest member of the display team who recently wowed the crowd at the TAGB World Chamionships (see SSD14 for more on that). The display team, in their customised blue and black outfits, once again drew deserved applause for a superbly choreographed routine featuring patterns, aerial leaps and, of course, the ‘destruction’ of wooden blocks – all set to music.
“The guys have been training since October last year. They spent three months putting the demo together and then another eight months perfecting it and getting it tight for the Worlds last July,” said MartialArts4Fun Head Instructor Peter O’Neill, who revealed the team will now be rehearsing a similar demonstration for the upcoming British Championships.
Sport South Devon also asked for Mr O’Neill’s thoughts on the Tae Kwon Do scene in the area:
“I think in South Devon the scene is definitely growing. There are a lot of enthusiastic instructors down here working really hard to introduce and expand it,” he said.
For more event photos, interviews, a full local winners’ list and insight into the burgeoning Tae Kwon-Do scene, don’t miss our feature in SSD15 – out December 2013
Thanks to Karen Ball (MartialArts4Fun Press Officer), Andy Saunders (Tae Kwon-Do Torbay Instructor), Andrew Tombling (Senior Area Instructor) and the event welfare officers for their invaluable assistance and information.