The Ponds Forge, Sheffield was the venue for the weekend for the 2022 English Karate Championships.
The Forza Karate Club team comprising of Sensei Jade Honeywood and Athlete Kobe Yogarajah (incidentally both England Karate team members) were joined by Sensei David Thomas, Sensei Hazel Flaherty and Athlete Jasper Simmons to form Team FKA.
Kobe began the campaign as current British 4 nations champion. This is the first time since the British that he has competed. A few niggling injuries thanks to school sports set Kobe aside from training for a couple of weeks, plus exams, it was an up hill battle to say the least, but both athlete and coach were prepared to go ahead.
Kobe first opponent was a very capable athlete and regular performer. Standing quite a few inches taller, it was clear that range was gonna be the issue for Kobe and of course, a high guard.
The fight fight began with some great exchanges from both fighters, mid way through, Kobe dropped his guard to allow his opponent to score with a head shot. The score 1-0
Kobe continued to apply pressure on his opponent working both head and body and few attempted kicks seeing the fight through to the end 1-0 to his opponent, not the start he wanted and clearly upset with his performance.
Fortunately, his opponent made it through to the final allowing Kobe a repo-charge. This meant Kobe had the opportunity to fight for a bronze medal.
Kobe first fight in the repo-charge see him win 1-0 with a clean fight and well time counter punch to see him through for a bronze medal fight.
Going for bronze, Kobe was against an opponent he fought in the British semi final only a few months ago.
The fight began with lots of cat and mouse tactics from both fighters, sizing up each other and cancelling each others moves, the fight ended 0-0 and a decision had to be made by the officials. 4 flags – 1 Kobe lost against his opponent. Kobe campaign ended with a 5th place.
Following on from previous EKF seniors in 2019 before Covid, Jade was against a English International and lost 1-0 in the last 5 seconds, so today job was to get past the first round.
In the first round, she was against a competitor from SKA. A strong fighter with a good front round kick, Jade managed to pick off her opponent with a head kick to take a 3-0 advantage, throughout the remaining of the fight, she tried hard to maintain that lead but finished with a 4-2 and through to the semi finals. 3 minutes later she was back on…
Semi finals fight was against Higashi, the first half of the fight was good movement from Jade using front punch, reverse punch and kicks, timing her opponent, however she noticed that towards the end of the fight her fitness was failing, she had never placed to in a final of a senior national championships and wanted this so so much, 10 seconds left… Jade battled with her opponent exchanging kicks and punches continuously and the buzzer sounded… Jade was in the her first senior final! Jade beat her opponent 5-2. Well done Jade. Her finals are later this afternoon, however more work as we had team fighting.
Jade is now joined up with association team mate Hazel Flaherty. Unfortunately due to the amount of women in the association at this level, we did not have 3 team members to fill the line up, so we had to make do with 2. Our first fight was against Higashi.
Hazel stepped up and was first fighter, a controlled performance by Hazel and won the fight 4-0. Now it was Jades turn. Standing in front of her was he opponent from her individual fight, now well rested she was ready to step up.
In a more controlled manner, she kicked her opponent to the head, great combinations and finished the fight 9-1. A much better performance against her than in the semi final individual bout. Team FKA are now in the English Senior Team finals!
English Female -68kg Finals
Waiting in the stands, worried yet focused, her category was called and she stood at the edge of the step with her opponent on the other side. Coaches behind, waiting for the announcer to call on the next category. A little whisper from her coach in the ear and then low and behold the music that blasted from the speakers of the venue, her own motivational song that she listened to all the time… She just knew it was meant to be and was now fired up and played to the crowd with her arms up.. Go Jade!
The fighters lead off down the stairs to the tatami. Referee bowed them in and then fighters were on the line. Hajime (start) the bout begun. Jade and her opponent were moving around the mat and her opponent from Team Ranking fought a different fight to what she did in previous fights, now this time waiting her for opponent to move onto her. Jade worked this out on her own and stuck with her own tactics, both fighters were warned for passivity ( lack of attacking) and this continued for a minute until jade got the first point. 1-0.
Her opponent then spent the remaining of the fight trying to chase and catch the point back with jade countering and moving away from the attacks… So so close with 3 seconds to go referee shouts hajame… Jade launches with a front punch and moves to the side, it missed her opponent and her opponent countered with a reverse punch only to be met with Jade back let round kick to the head. Yame! the referee calls… 4 flags go up and she done it. 0,00.6 seconds left, Jade is now 4-0 up.
Buzzer sounds. A big yell (Kiai) from Jade as she returns to her line and is awarded the fight, she turns around and does a little dance of excitement before running into the arms of her coach. Well done Jade. English Senior Karate Champion!
Now for the women team finals. Bushino Ryu vs Frontier Karate Association
A buzzing atmosphere as we are close to the competition ending, all the crowd are clapping the fighters. First 2 fighters, Jade and her opponent.
In an exchange of half way through the fight, her opponent kicked towards the head and Jade was down 3-0. last 10 seconds to go, Jade pulled a point back to finish the fight with a loss 3-1. We managed expectations and was very pleased with a silver medal and well done to the Bushido Ryu team on being crowned English Team Champions!