On Nov 3rd 2019, we took a team of 20 junior students to compete at this years British Kenpo Karate Association Championships in Exeter, Uk.
It was an early start with the coach arriving at 6:30am to pick up a lot of super nervous students in Gloucester and a very emotional and proud instructor! We got off without any delays, although we will say most of our competitors looked like ghosts haha
We had a super quick stop off to pick up our Bristol members along the way. Then we were a full team of twenty once again. About half an hour later the bus suddenly woke up with our older member Jasmine kicking off some singing along the way.
We had a quick stop off at a service station on route, for some desperate wee's and dancing at the services just like last year. Then it was back on the coach to complete the last part of our journey. Shidoshi Sinead was then attacked by Eden and Hannah, who proceeded to almost rip all her hair out in an attempt to plait her hair... Sinead still has no feeling on one side of her head hahaha
When we arrived in Exeter the nerves kicked in along with excitement. As Shidoshi Sinead gave one final team talk, the team was ready to get off and do themselves proud for sure. A sea of green flowed from the coach to the venue. Which was an amazing sight to see.
Everyone registered on the way in to confirm their details and divisions at the front table. Then we all sat down and started to get ready and into our uniforms. Each student helping each member to get ready and tie their belts correctly etc.
Shidoshi Sinead was then called away to start judging on the top table, leaving all the kids in the capable hands of Sam, Helen, Marc and Pippa. With that, the event was off and forms and sparring were all going on at the same time.
Throughout the hall you could hear the echoes of our team clapping and cheering on each member of the team on the floor. Which was super lovely and sent a chill down most of the kids spines as they heard their name being cheered on.
There was some really tough divisions for some of our kids, with some of our beginner blue belts sparring in the brown and black belt divisions! But everyone performed to their absolute best and did not let anything get in the way of having a great day!
Shidoshi Sinead was an emotional mess all day long, holding back tears of joy as she watched each and everyone stand on the floor and do their very best, which is all she could ever ask for. She was so impressed by the team working together, looking out for each other and helping all our younger members all day long. It was heartwarming indeed and made all the months of hard work all worthwhile.
There was lots of winners of trophies on the day, plenty of surprised faces and shocked looks as their names were called out. But there was also plenty of tears throughout the day, of just missed places, some hard knocks in sparring and the whole day just being so overwhelming. But rest assured Shidoshi Sinead dried all their tears, hugged them tight and perked them up to get back in and finish all their divisions. So many lessons were to be learned in the day, from both winning and loosing. You just have to admire the courage of any kid small or big for standing out there on their own in front of so many people on the day.
The placings on the day were as follows:
Amber - 1st Sparring and 3rd Forms
Lucy - 3rd Forms
Jasmine - 2nd Forms, 3rd Self Defence and Sparring
Eden - 2nd Forms and 3rd Self Defence
Gabriel - 2nd Forms and 3rd Self Defence
Finley - 3rd Sparring (as a blue belt in a brown and black belt divisions! wow!!)
Will - 1st Forms, 1st Self Defence and 2nd Sparring
Jay - 1st Sparring (Undefeated two years in a row!)
Eddie - 1st Sparring
Erin - 1st Forms, 1st Self Defence and 3rd Sparring
Nathan - 1st Self Defence
Josh - 2nd Self Defence
Zach - 2nd Sparring, 3rd Forms and 3rd Self Defence
Grace - 2nd in Self Defence (This was the most emotional win of the day, for those who do not know, Grace travelled last year with a tiny team of 4 others to compete, she did not place and was noted for being the most smiley person all day. She has been training 3 days a week most of this year and it truly showed at the tournament! She made Shidoshi Sinead cry along with some of her team mates from last year getting very emotional too. GOOOOO GRACE!!!!)
Special Mentions go to the following who finished just outside of the placings on the day:
James - Competed his socks off all day in a tough division with kids much older than him
Noah - Kept his cool all day waiting for his divisions, then made Shidoshi Sinead super proud with a truly amazing Short form 1
Hannah - Again was in a tough division with kids much older than her, but she took it in her stride gave it her all and did a truly fantastic job!
Albie - Never been to a tournament in his life, not even training a full year yet. But he got up and gave it all he had on the day which was not an easy thing to do! Then he made Shidoshi Sinead cry with some kind words at the end of the day.
Maia - First time competing as a purple belt, she fought her heart out in the sparring and kept going even when she got a bit of a knock. Sinead truly admires her spirit and determination as she completed the rest of her day and did amazing!
Leo - Only competing in sparring on the day, Leo did us all proud. He was unsure about competing and took some persuading to give it a go. While he did not win, he gained a lot from the experience to take forwards we are sure. But most importantly he was the best assistant instructor Sinead could have asked for on the day. He looked after his sidekick all day, along with everyone else. Helping them with everything he possibly could have. That is to be admired greatly and we look forward to some more coaching from Leo in the future.
What truly amazing kids they are!
As the tournament came to an end, we stayed despite all our team being finished their events and cheered on all the other kids in the final few divisions. It was great to watch some of the brown and black belts do their forms for sure.
Our team was approached by Ms Jaki McVicar at the end of the day and commended on their sportsmanship and attitudes all day long. She told them they are very lucky to have such a great instructor, to teach and get them all there on the day and to give her 3 cheers. Which of course the kids didn't need to be told twice to do. They were all super grateful for her kind words.
Then it was back on the coach around 4pm to make the long journey back to Gloucester. Spirits were high, singing was loud and the atmosphere was just truly amazing. (Although we are not sure the bus driver appreciated the shrieking sounds of a dodgy YMCA being sung haha)
We finally made it back to Gloucester just before 7pm, the whole team piled into Sinead and Marcs little flat, where we had Mc Donald's delivered by Eden's wonderful Mum for everyone. Which was by far the most Mc Donald's in one single order we had ever seen. The evening finished with plenty of games, laughs and fun.
Plenty of super proud parents picked up each one of their Kenbu team members. Then I think its safe to say Shidoshi Sinead fell straight into bed! What an amazing day altogether, new friends made, memories that will last a lifetime.
We ask that all family members and friends, celebrate in each child's achievement, including focusing on the positives of the day and reassure them that they did amazing! Win or loose they all did something incredibly difficult and are leading the way for all other students they train with each week.
Over the past week each member has come to class and chatted and inspired who knows maybe next years kids to come along. Which has been so lovely to watch.
Until next year....
A huge thank you to the following groups!
All the BKKA instructors who ran the event or helped judge and referee on the day
To all the parents - For getting your kids to training every week and supporting them on such a big day
To Shihan Marc for all his great photography on the day
To Helen, Sam and Pippa for helping to chaperone the day and look after the kids throughout the tournament.
Jackies Coaches Gloucester - For getting us there and back safely and comfortably
Trutex Gloucester - For the amazing Hoodies they printed for us
Mc Donalds Gloucester (and Edens Mum) - For the biggest order ever for delivery
Fundraising - Thank you to everyone who supported our fundraiser to pay for the kids travel. You are all amazing and a true Kenbu and Budo Warrior Schools family
St Peters Social Centre Gloucester - For squeezing our fundraising night booking in at short notice
Sven Kirkpatrick - For running 160km the distance of Gloucester to Exeter to raise money for the team
The Burrell Family - For running a cake sale to raise funds for the team
We just couldn't have done it without you all!