Wednesday, 24th October 2012
The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Orlando Florida was the glorious venue for the 2012 WKA World Kickboxing championships. Held over the course of a week late September. This year’s championships were plagued by gossip and rumors of political turmoil that threatened to spoil the event. Thankfully after a superbly attended opening ceremony consisting of over 40 nations, and a few very welcome and united words from both WKA owner Paul Ingram, and President Klaus Nonnemacher, the event was about to get underway, allowing the athletes from all nations do what they do best … and what a superb tournament it turned out to be.
The WKA World Championships brings competitors from many different martial arts including Taekwon-Do, Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, to name but a few. There are a vast number of categories to be vied for which cover the full range of disciplines, from ring sports including K1 and Muay Thai, mat sports with continuous and point scoring sparring, through to traditional and freestyle weapons forms.
The England Light Continuous Team coach, Master Ted Wolf, 8th Degree, fielded another very strong squad of over 50 fighters contesting several different divisions. Last year’s championships in Karlsruhe provided England with a huge medal tally and everyone knew it would be a mammoth task to be able to improve on that but with team morale at an all-time high, that’s exactly what the England Squad did.
The preliminary Light Continuous rounds got underway with Stuart Arroyo in the under 60 kilogram (kg) division, successfully overcoming a game Lebanese opponent to secure himself a place in the final for the 2nd year running.
In the under 65kg division Gio Marchese was aiming for Gold having won silver the previous 3 years in a row, albeit by a very contentious decision last year. Gio looked superb putting together crisp combinations and jumping kicks, also securing his place in the final. In the same category Ben England was looking good but lost out to multi-world champion Guido Rodel in the semi-final, who had booked himself a fight with Gio for the 4th consecutive year.
Jamaine Hemmings looked to be in impressive form, fighting his way through to the under 70kg final, defeating a Canadian former World Champion in the process. As too did Jamaine’s younger brother Reuben Hemmings, who was on fire, making light work of all who stood in front of him! That was two brothers from the same club in WKA World Championship finals – very impressive by anyone’s standards.
The under 80kg category saw former ITF World Taekwon-Do Champion Richard Belle, and Jaie Lyons up against top quality opposition. This was by far the largest division. Richard having recently become a Dad for the first time had come in to the championships far from match fit however using sublime movement and some of the very best kicking in the sport, Richard secured his place in the final. It was to be an all-England under 80kg final for the 2nd year in a row as Jaie Lyons out punched and out maneuvered his opposition in style. Could Jaie overcome his narrow defeat in last year’s final, to get Gold his year? It was a final scheduled for Thursday that we were all looking forward to.
Elsewhere our heavier competitors fought gallantly but sadly failed to reach finals. Four times under 90kg winner Gavin “The Champ” Williamson in particular lost out on a very close decision to a very talented German fighter whom he had previously beaten at the German Open Championships in June of this year.
In the men’s Veterans under 75kg division, England’s Steve Morgan secured himself a place in the final by putting on an awesome display of kicking and movement, winning by a landslide over a tough Lebanese competitor who had made it through to the non-veterans under 70kg Final; such was the standard of the Vets category this year. Steve’s final was scheduled for Friday against Nico Kornhass who defeated England’s Marc Golland by split decision in the semi-final.
Elsewhere England Ladies were on similar form to the men.
Lucy Wolf secured yet another world final in the under 50kg division again in awesome style using her trademark barrage of kicking skills to great effect, coupled with crisp punching combinations and great movement. In the same division team mate Jasmine Duggan was unfortunate to sustain a nose injury, which prevented her further progress.
In the under 55kg ladies division Lucy’s club mate and protégé Joann Rolison gave a simply breath taking display of how it should be done on all levels, outthinking, out punching, out kicking, out moving and simply outclassing all before her on her way to yet another world final. This was both Jasmine and Joann’s first World Championships at senior level.
Ladies Veteran Carol Butt lost out in her semi-final to a superb fighter from Germany in the ladies Veteran under 60kg division. Carol coming back from injury and surgery still did herself and the England team proud by even getting to the championships. Although not at her best Carol can be proud of the hard work and sheer tenacity it took in getting there. Many would have simply not competed.
In the junior boys, England schoolboy Connor Smith was unlucky to lose his semi-final fight in the kids under 40kg category, and Tom Wright fought superbly in the over 50kg division to secure his place in the final.
Elsewhere in the Male Junior divisions England had another 2 finalists in the shape of another pair of brothers “The Smiths”, no not an 80’s pop group, but a talented duo of Tom and Frankie, also from the same club as the Hemmings brothers. Respectively competing in the over 70kg and under 65kg divisions, they were on great form and did themselves proud.
Daryl Owen would have to settle for Bronze in the under 70kg division losing out a hard fought semi-final.
In the Junior girls Light Continuous categories, Geanina Luca and Victoria Keeble both secured Bronze medals in their respective under 50kg and under 55kg divisions. Whilst Dani Scorer and Teresa Tomassi secured yet another all England final in the over 60kg division.
England had reached so many finals, and secured many Bronze medals by only the second day of competing. It was a truly impressive performance. There was also so much more to fight for as many of the Light Continuous team had also secured medals and finals in both semi contact points divisions, and not forgetting the newly added ITF Pattern section!
We were all looking forward to Thursday and Friday’s finals with great anticipation and excitement, as we knew there was plenty more magic yet to come, especially in the team categories! A couple of days rest and morale boosting evening meal times were the order of the day. Everyone from the England Light Continuous team was buzzing. It was quite simply amazing to be part of it all.
By the time the finals came around we were all anticipating something quite special and when the pressure was on Team England delivered…in style.
Stuart Arroyo had a convincing victory against the Canadian finalist in the men’s under 60kg division to secure our first Light Continuous Gold of the day! Stuart really set the tone for the England squad.
Next up was Gio Marchese in his eagerly awaited under 65KG final against Guido Rodel of Germany. These two had now contested the final 4 years in a row, a truly remarkable feat by both fighters. As the fight got underway it was Guido who went out on the attack right from the off, hitting Gio with an axe kick and punch combinations in the first few seconds. If Gio wasn’t awake before…he was now! Gio soon found his rhythm and before long sent Guido flying off the matt with a superb sweep followed by strong punches. Gio kept to his game plan and kept on the attack finishing the round the stronger fighter. A few wise words from Gio’s corner man Chris Djaelani sent Gio out for the second round again on the attack but lighter on his feet. To his credit Guido fought superbly but just came up short against Gio who was never going to let this fight go. We waited nervously for the result. As Gio’s hand was finally raised a sense of relief as well as joy was felt by all. In the true spirit of these championships both Gio and Guido held each other’s hands high as German coach Harald Rogner came over to congratulate both Gio and Master Wolf on an awesome display of Light Continuous kickboxing and true sportsmanship.
Next up was Jamaine Hemmings in the under 70kg final. Could Jamaine make it three Gold’s from three finals for England? In the first 30 seconds it was clear that Jamaine had the measure of his Lebanese opponent who despite being a strong fighter, seemed to have nothing to match Jamaine’s sublime movement and crisp punching combinations. Jamaine finished the round way ahead and this continued all the way to the end as his hand was held up in victory!
Three finals, three Gold medals!
Jamaine’s younger brother Reuben was up next against another tough Lebanese fighter in the under 75kg final. Reuben got straight to work as he had done in the preliminary rounds and looked simply awesome. After 30 seconds he was well clear of his opponent who then went down with a knee injury. The Lebanese team then explained their fighter was advised not to fight due to a knee injury from the preliminary rounds. The fight was stopped and the win awarded to Reuben. Even though it was not how Reuben would have wanted to become champion, it was clear to everyone that even fully fit his opponent wouldn’t have been able to match him!
Four Gold medals now from four finals – England were dominating the field on the mats!
The next eagerly awaited final was an all-England affair in the under 80 kg division between Richard Belle and Jaie Lyons. As the fight got underway it looked like a puncher versus kicker scenario, which had the makings of being a hard fought contest. Midway through the first round Richard performed a drop sweep, which upended Jaie and brought great applause from the crowd. Back on his feet Jaie continued to attack with strong punch combinations which just fell short due to Richards’s movement which was beautiful to watch as well as effective. In the second round Richard continued to shine combining footwork with superb kicking. Jaie shouted on by best friend and fellow England team member David Lowes just didn’t seem to have an answer to Richard’s legs, not on this day. It was no surprise when Richards’s hand was held in victory; however Jaie, still only 21 years old did himself and his team proud. England had now won 5 consecutive men’s finals, and claimed one silver due to having an all-England final. You couldn’t have written this script!
Steve Morgan was unlucky to miss out on Gold in the men’s under 75kg veteran’s and didn’t quite get in to his rhythm against Nico Kornhass of Germany. Steve went in to the championships having been plagued by injury so to get to the final in a very tough division was a great achievement. The Elastic man is back!
Could the ladies finalists continue in the same way?
Next up was Lucy Wolf in her under 50kg final. To say Lucy’s fight was one sided would be an understatement! Lucy never allowed her opponent to get going and hit her with every technique in the book, even easing up so as to assure the win without disqualification for excessive contact.
Joann Rolison then followed suit, dominating her final in every area easily taking Gold in the under 55kg category.
Two ladies finals, and two more Gold’s for team England.
In the Male kids England’s Tom Wright won his final in the over 50kg category, a fantastic achievement. Elsewhere Teresa Tomassi worked hard to secure her win over Dani Scorer in yet another all England final. Dani at only 14 years old and 4 years younger than Teresa showed great skill and determination in this fight, winning the respect of all in attendance.
All eyes were then on “The Smiths” who in the Male Junior divisions were aiming to emulate the earlier achievements of the Hemmings brothers by securing Gold medals in their finals. 14 year old Frankie Smith fought a great but very close final against a very game opponent. In the end it was Frankie’s hard work and strong kicking that saw him secure his first world title in the under 65kg. Older brother Tom was up next in the over 70kg final. Tom absolutely destroyed his American opponent. Tom’s leg speed and kicking combinations have to be seen to be believed! Whilst his opponent gave it his all it was a very 1 sided affair, another Gold medal for England.
So many Gold Medals and still the Light Continuous team fights to go! The Men’s team fights saw England up against Germany yet again in the final. One glance at the German team and it was obvious that coach Rogner had selected Giants in a bold move to overcome England who had won the team event now several years running. A thumb injury ruled Tom Smith out of the Men’s team which gave a call up to under 80kg silver medallist Jaie Lyons. The first fight saw Richard Belle narrowly lose out to a very gifted and much heavier opponent. Chris Djaelani then stepped up for England, giving away over 40kg to a simply huge opponent. The German tried hitting Chris with everything he had but Chris stuck to his game plan and was much faster on his feet, landing awesome crisp punch combinations and dodging bombs with silky smooth head movement and footwork. Chris aimed to make up for his disappointment in the individuals and he did it in style, defeating a giant in what was in its self a huge achievement.
Reuben Hemmings was next up against 6 times WKA world champion Michael Beurk from Germany. The German started on the attack and never truly allowed Reuben to work to his strengths, taking the victory over 1 round of fighting. Next up Gavin Williamson secured a superb win against a seasoned K1 fighter from Germany. This made it 2 wins apiece. It was all down to the last contest between German under 85kg Gold medalist Manny Boyd, and England under 80kg silver medalist Jaie Lyons. Both of these guys fought to win, not an inch was given by either guy. At the end England felt sure Jaie had done enough to secure victory however it was the German’s hand that was held up in victory. The German team erupted and coach Harald Rogner was quick to come over and shake the hand of England coach Master Wolf. What happened next was beautiful to be a part of. German coach Rogner ordered his whole team to walk down the line shaking the hands of every England team member present. This was an incredible and very genuine gesture of friendship between two great nations who have not been the best of friends in the past. Coach Rogner hailed England Light Continuous Coach Master Ted Wolf as “The best Coach in the world”. A magnificent accolade and based upon England’s performances, it would take a brave person to argue against.
England Male Juniors were up next. Wins from Musa Dawodu, Frankie Smith and Tom Smith were enough to give England the victory against a strong German team.
The last team event of the day saw England ladies up against another team of Giants from Germany. Lucy Wolf came up against another giant K1 fighter like last year in her team fight. Lucy must have been giving away 10 inches in height and 25kg in weight but still overcame her opponent in true Lucy fashion using her kicking and movement skills to great effect. Next up for England was Charlotte Jones. Like Lucy, Charlotte came up against a much larger opponent. Charlotte won the respect of everyone in attendance as she kept on moving forwards, not giving up despite taking some very heavy blows. Charlotte may have lost the decision but she won the crowd’s applause and appreciation. There was a momentary pause before England sent up under 55kg gold medalist Joann Rolison for her match against again much larger German opposition. From the word go the German came on the attack bringing the fight to Joann which made this for many of the crowd and myself included, the best fight of the whole tournament. Every time the German girl threw a shot, Joann would move, duck, slip counter, move and be well out of the way. The German barely touched Joann who hit her with front leg kicks, rear leg kicks, the sweetest punch combinations…you name it, Joann did it! It was an absolutely textbook display from one of the most talented competitors I’ve ever seen! This gave England ladies the team Gold!
England’s Light Continuous Medal tally was immense however all was not finished yet as many more Gold; Silver and Bronze medals were won in both semi contact points divisions and ITF Patterns. It was a superb team performance by England and coach Master Wolf who did everyone and his country proud.
Master Wolf’s England WKA squad proved that they are the ones to beat with an average of at least one medal per competitor being achieved!
The total medal tally was 23 Gold, 16 Silver and 35 Bronze.
Sincere thanks and great appreciation goes to Master Wolf and his lovely wife Brenda who made the whole trip very special indeed. The level of organization and effort that went in to this trip was simply unparalleled and greatly appreciated by the whole team – Thank You!
With next year’s world championships held in Greece team England have earned themselves a well-deserved break before squad sessions resume once more.
I for one can’t wait to get back in to the swing of things! With memories of Orlando still burning brightly in our minds I feel certain that the whole team will approach next year’s tournament stronger, faster, sharper and even better than this year!
England WKA results
Team Light Con 1st
Team Points 3rd
Lucy Wolf -50kg Light Con 1st, Points 2nd
Jasmine Duggan -50kg Light Con 3rd, Points 3rd, ITF Forms 2nd
Joann Rolison -55kg Light Con 1st, Points 1st, ITF Forms 1st
Charlotte Jones -60kg Points 3rd, ITF Forms 3rd
Angela Hebden +65 Points 3rd
Team Light Con 2nd
Team Points 3rd
Stuart Arroyo -60kg Light Con 1st, Points 3rd, ITF Forms
Giovanni Marchese -65kg Light Con 1st, Points 2nd
Ben England -65kg Light Con 3rd
Jamaine Hemmings -70kg Light Con 1st, ITF Forms 2nd
Reuben Hemmings -75kg Light Con 1st
Richard Belle -80kg Light Con 1st
Jaie Lyons -80kg Light Con 2nd
Christopher Leighton -85kg Points 3rd
Gavin Williamson -90kg Light Con 3rd
Marc Golland -75kg Light Con 3rd
Steve Morgan -75kg Light Con 2nd, Points 3rd
Simon Hamilton-Brigg +75kg Con 3rd
Andrew Cobbley +75kg Con 2nd
Carol Butt -60kg Light Con 3rd, Points 3rd, ITF Forms 3rd
Geanina Luca -50kg Light Con 3rd, Points 3rd
Victoria Keeble -55kg Light Con 3rd
Dani Scorer +60kg Light Con 2nd, ITF Forms 3rd
Teresa Tomassi +60kg Light Con 1st
Team Light Con 1st
Team Points 3rd
Frankie Smith -65kg Light Con 1st, ITF Forms 2nd
Musa Dawodu -70kg Points 3rd, ITF Forms 3rd
Daryl Owen -70kg Light Con 3rd
Thomas Smith +70kg Light Con Gold, Points 2nd
Connor Smith -40kg Light Con 3rd, Points 3rd ITF Forms 3rd
Aaron Cobley -45kg Con 3rd
Tom Wright +50kg Light Con 1st, Points 3rd