PUMA Squad at the LTSI – 6 Oct 2019
By Mr Dale Hubbuck, 3rd Degree – Chesterfield Taekwon-Do
It was a busy weekend on the PUMA calendar with the PUMA black belt grading taking place in Swindon on the Saturday and the LTSI English Open Championships in Hatfield on the Sunday (6th October 2019).
9 PUMA students entered the championship and for some it was their first competition outside of the usual PUMA competition schedule. Here’s a rundown of the day from my perspective; both as a parent/spectator and a Taekwon-Do practitioner.
The day started at 5:00am for a quick breakfast for myself, Iden and Faye. Faye had decided to come along to support Iden and the other PUMA students (the promise of a McDonalds may have had some influence over Faye’s decision). We started on our journey from Sheffield to Hatfield, the other students and coaches would also need an early start to get to the competition for the 8:30am start time as we wanted to get together and support each other as a team.
Note Some of the other regular PUMA competitors were also away training for the ITF European Championships or had fallen ill and couldn’t make this event.
Once we arrived we quickly spotted the coaching team, which comprised of Mr and Mrs Swain and Mr Whitlock, who were looking smart in their PUMA England track suits. I don’t need to say much more about the experience and knowledge that these guys have within the competition environment and I knew it would reassure Iden that he was in safe hands. The coaches had their officials meeting and then the competition was ready to start.
Up first was Rowan Graham in patterns, RULE DIFFERENCE: the way the patterns are judged at this competition is via a score card system. Each judge holds up a score for the pattern between 3 and 9. Every competitor is scored individually and you are only asked to perform a second pattern if there are no clear winners for the trophy positions.
Rowan’s first pattern resulted in a tie for 2nd and 3rd place so it was back to the mats to perform again. Rowan performed a really sharp and powerful pattern and took 2nd place.
Straight away it was noticeable that there was a very high standard of competitor at this event, but Rowan wasn’t intimated with this and during the sparring division she moved around the mats with confidence. This resulted in a gold medal in the sparring division after beating all of her opponents.
Rowan was the only PUMA competitor in the morning session so we had time to catch up with some old friends who we used to train with and haven’t seen in a while and then it was back to watching some high quality Taekwon-Do action.
After the under 12’s had finished their divisions there was a team pattern competition. This consisted of a mixed team with a maximum of two dan grades per team. PUMA didn’t enter a team for this event but we had a great time watching the patterns performed.
Next up we had the 13+ coloured belts, representing PUMA was Dylan Maggs, Joel Titchener and Iden Hubbuck. I’m not sure how many events outside of PUMA the other team members have taken part in but it was Iden’s first and he wasn’t letting the nerves show. Joel and Iden performed a good pattern but unluckily it wasn’t enough to get into a trophy position. Dylan had to perform his pattern twice for a trophy position and it resulted in a 2nd place. Next up was the sparring and Iden needed to borrow some closed finger gloves as the PUMA gloves were not deemed acceptable. Iden had a tough opponent but he seemed to handle the pressure well even after being kicked out of the ring twice. His only problem seemed to be the Velcro fastener on his foot guards (new pads have been ordered). The bout ended in a draw. So we had extra time with a very close fight for another 30 seconds. The result was very close but unluckily for Iden, it wasn’t to be. It was a great experience for Iden and I’m sure he’s gained lots of valuable experience from the day. Next up was Joel who was in the same division. Another great performance but unfortunately the result didn’t go his way and he didn’t make it to the final and had to settle with a bronze medal. Dylan was in a higher weight division and had two tough fights against heavier and larger opponents. He used his legs very effectively and moved around the mats well earning himself a gold medal for his efforts.
By this time It was mid-afternoon and it was time for our 13+ black belts to compete. This group consisted of Ellie Mohan-Singh, Juliette Remillat-Scarpa, Amelia Richardson, Aidan Bailey and Joshua Williams. First up was the patterns division, not a single PUMA competitor did anything to let themselves down with lots of sixes and some sevens in the scores but as I mentioned earlier the standard at this competition was very high. The girls division ended with Ellie and Juliette battling it out for a bronze trophy position. It was a very tough decision and Ellie just pipped Juliette to get into the trophy position. The boys division ended with no trophies but some high scores were given out to Josh and Aidan so they should be very proud of their performances.
Finally it was onto the black belt sparring and the PUMA team didn’t let us down with great performances from all in some very tough fights. Amelia easily won her first fight but just lost out in the next round resulting in a bronze medal. Ellie had a really tough opponent but an injury just before the end of the fight resulted in Ellie having to withdraw and concede the fight. Juliette had a couple of hard fights, with her first opponent using her movement to try and wear Juliette down but Juliette’s experience didn’t let her down and it resulted in a comfortable win. Juliette’s next opponent was also tough and seemed to have some powerful kicks. A hard kick into Juliette’s back resulted in an injury time out. This allowed Juliette to stretch it out and recover. Juliette came back with even more spirit and energy. It was a great end to the fight but it just wasn’t enough to get gold; however, it was very exciting for the spectators.
Now we are on to the final event of the day but with Josh and Aidan competing at the same time on two different rings. This made hard to watch Josh’s fight live. Luckily I’ve seen the video and for such a shy and quiet young man he really enjoys his sparring and gets stuck in. His movement and sidekick kept his opponent away and came away with another gold medal for PUMA. Aidan’s fight looked like it was going to be a tough one as all the competitors in his division were light and fast on their feet with good legs. I’ve known Aidan for some time and seen him grow into a tremendous sparrer but I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. He had also been at the Bo Staff black belt grading the day before, including the spirit test, so his legs may have been a little tired. Anyway, Aidan matched his opponent with speed and kicking ability and got a win in the first fight. His second fight was very close resulting in two rounds of extra time and unluckily it wasn’t to be. On the bright side it was another silver medal for PUMA.
This brought us to the end of the competition with no one taking part in the special technique division which if I remember correctly was a flying turning kick.
It all ended with a team talk, team huddle and few team pictures. I personally enjoyed watching the huddle which perfectly showed off the team spirit that was evident throughout the day and I was also proud to see Iden being part of this and hope to see him taking part in many more of these events in the future (it may have even inspired Faye to join us at national squad).
So to finish off, I would like to say I really enjoyed what was a very long but worthwhile day. It was personally a great experience to be supporting a young team of competitors that are not only really talented in the technical side of Taekwon-Do but are also really nice people, all of which stayed to the very end supporting each other. I would also like to thank the PUMA coaching team who have inspired and used their vast knowledge during the day to guide the team. Finally, to all the parents that make these events possible, it was a long day especially with the travelling involved but seeing all the team members with smiles on their faces makes it worthwhile.
So to any PUMA students that may be reading this. Get yourselves over to a local or national squad session and it may be the start of a new and exciting phase of your Taekwon-Do journey.
Addition from Mr Swain:
Congratulations to all PUMA students who took part in the LTSI competition. If you would like to join them at a competition in future the first step is to get to National Squad Training on 3rd November or 8th December. In 2020 the PUMA squad will be aiming to attend more UK competitions as well as the Open Dutch, Holland Cup and the ITF World Cup in Slovenia in October.