Monday, November 24, 2008



After another early start, we arrived at the Budokan and secured the same great seats as yesterday.

Our great view... with action replay :-)

The final day would be the mighty kumite weight divisions, so I was very interested to see my competition division, if I’m to get to this level in my own tournament career, I need to know what I’ll be facing!

Male Kumite -70kg
This category had more entries than any category so far (about 70!), and since this isn’t my weight division, I didn’t start watching properly until I had finished my delicious Starbucks white hot chocolate drink and the first round was over with.

Rafael Aghayev
One of the first fighters on the mat today was Rafael Aghayev, the guy who easily won the men’s open division yesterday. Obviously he was the favourite to win this division too and the Japanese home crowd still loved him! He beat either Ireland or Sweden in his first round (I’m not sure which) and then smoked Tunisia 5-0 in the next round. He then dispatched Qatar and the USA (4-0) to meet Japan’s Nagaki for a place in the final.

...everyone else

Canada in action (Xavier Fournier)

Canada’s Saeed Baghbani got through two rounds, against Bosnia and Herzegovina (1-0) and the Syrian Arab Republic (1-0). He then met Egypt and lost 1-0. Egypt’s T Moussa went onto beat England (0-0 Referee‘s decision) and Scotland (4-2) to meet Aghayev in the finals.

Jason Ledgister in action

England’s Jason Ledgister was on good form, he was biding his time in all his matches, just doing enough to win each fight. He beat Indonesia (1-0) in his first round and then the Netherlands (1-0) and Wales (1-0).

England vs Wales

Watching him fight, I thought he was being too cautious and bouncing too much time away. In fact in his match against Egypt, the score was 0-0 right through extra time and it eventually went to a referee’s decision. Obviously I’m a little biased, but I thought Jason should have got the decision but he didn’t.

Japan’s Shinji Nagaki did well, he dispatched Norway easily, then his next match against China was very good. I think everyone in the stadium was watching, even all the officials! Nagaki won 7-1, his next round saw him beating Venezuela (3-1) and then Belgium (4-1) to meet Aghayev for a place in the finals.

Aghayev vs Nagaki

The crowd had loved Aghayev all the way through the tournament, the Japanese affection cooled somewhat after he beat Nagaki 4-1. The fight was really good, the crowd really got into it but it was always going to be won by Azerbaijan! By the time the finals came around at the end of the day the crowd had forgiven Aghayev and were cheering for him again.

Male Kumite -70kg Final
This was probably the most anticipated fight, the crowd wanted to see if Aghayev could get the double gold. After all the pomp and ceremony the match started. Both fighters bounced around for a while measuring, Aghayev quickly scored two body punches. The referee then charitably scored a weak body kick to Moussa which equalised the score.

Go Aghayev

Aghayev took the lead again with another body punch. Egypt’s Moussa threw a very good hook kick to the head which landed, however Aghayev showing his experience moved in at the same time dropping Moussa to the floor. The match ended 3-2 to Aghayev. He had won 2 gold medals at the World Championships, a great achievement!

Male Kumite -75kg
When I started competing this was my weight division, at my last FEW European Championships I only made the weigh-in by dehydrating myself and staying away from breakfast! After that competition, I decided the time was right to move up to the next weight division. Anyway, I was still interested in this division as it’s usually the most interesting with a reasonable amount of contact being allowed.

England’s hopes rested with Alton Brown, he beat Israel 4-0 in round one but then crashed out to Canada’s X. Fournier in round two (1-0).

Richard and Lawrence working hard...

By this point I was wondering if I would ever be able to look at Richard and Lawrence again because of the embarrassment I was feeling. Canada had beaten England far too many times for my liking!

Canada's Saeed!

Canada’s X. Fournier went onto beat Bosnia and Herzegovina (3-1) but lost in extra time to Kazakhstan (1-0).

Canada vs Kazakhstan (I think)

Kazakhstan went onto face Japan’s Ko Matsuhisa who had already beaten Germany (3-1), Ireland (3-0) and the USA. Kazakhstan got disqualified in the match against Japan for excessive contact. I think Matsushisa was still feeling the effects of this fight in his next round when he faced off to Chile’s D. Dubo and ended up losing 7-3.

Chile went onto the final against Turkey’s M. Basturk. Basturk had some good fights on his was to the final, round one he beat Venezuela 1-0, he then dispatched a very strong Italian fighter. His next fight against Azerbaijan was good and he won comfortably (7-2), his next fight was an easy 10-1 win against France.

Male Kumite -75kg Final
Chile (D. Dubo) vs. Turkey (M. Basturk), as with yesterday, all the final events were held at the end of the day. This fight was pretty much one sided, I thought it was only a matter of time before Turkey took the prize. I have the feeling that this same thought passed through Dubo’s head too. Dubo moved in for a body punch but left his head completely open at the same time, Basturk felt compelled to tag his face with a punch. In response to being 'tagged' Dubo took a dive that was worthy of England’s Premiership Football League! I thought that he milked this a lot, the referee even called on the match doctor. Two of the flag officials wanted to give a warning to Dubo for ‘self endangerment’ but the referee decided that the contact was too heavy and penalised Basturk.

Chile vs Turkey

The match was a stalemate at 0-0 when it went into extra time. Neither fighter could gain the initiative until Dubo dived in yet again for an unprotected attack and promptly got hit in the face, and took an even more spectacular dive to the mat spitting out his gum shield for extra effect. The referee’s decision was very controversial and had the crowd up in arms. He again penalised Turkey, and since this was the second such penalty, he gave the point and the match to Chile.

I thought it was a very sneaky way to win a World Championship title and I thought it cheapened the whole competition. I had hoped that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen at this level because it’s little more than cheating. On the other hand, Dubo showed a great understanding of the situation, knowing that he was outmatched by his opponent, he used the rules to his advantage and Basturk should have realised what Dubo was doing and not got sucked into it. Still, I don’t think it’s an honourable way to win such a prestigious prize!

Male Kumite -80kg
This is my category, so it stands to reason that I may come across some of these fighters in the future. I therefore started to watch a lot of the fights very carefully leaving Amy to fill in the program and take pictures (which is why the photos are sparce for this division!).
England’s Loxley Simmons lost in his first round to Egypt’s H. Keshta with an embarrassing 11-1 score. Keshta then went on to beat Turkey (2-1) and Mexico (4-3), he lost to Japan in the next round.

Japan’s Satoshi Ibuchi was on good form, he beat the Congo in his first round (1-0) and Armenia (4-3) in the second. He then beat Norway (5-1), Egypt and someone else (sorry I’m not sure who!) to get to the final against Russia‘s I. Eldaruchev.

I watched a lot of fights intently in this division but I was often disappointed, the standard wasn’t great in a lot of fights and they often degenerated into a scrap or worse, they bounced most of the time away and stole a point with a few seconds to go. They weren’t great to watch.

Japan vs Russia - Final

The final was very much of the same mould, Ibuchi (Japan) and Eldaruchev (Russia) bounced most of the time away, they through a few techniques but nothing scored until the dying seconds when Ibuchi connected with a lunge punch to the face. He got the point. Eldaruchev tried to take the win with a head kick, but was forced to the floor and the match ended. The result was a unimpressive 1-0 win and the Japanese spectators erupted with cheers and applause.

Competitor Warm Up Area

After watching the full category, and not wanting to endure the reperchage we (Amy and I) decided to escape outside for some fresh air. We had a look at some of the souvenir stalls outside the Budokan and headed to Starbucks again for a pick me up.

When we got back to the Budokan, we bumped into Arakawa Sensei in the corridor. He was taking a well earned break from marshalling the competitors in the warm up area. He then decided that we should go with him and have a look at where the fighters were warming up. I was surprised to see that it was such a small area, it certainly made for a lively atmosphere. I was even more surprised when sensei showed us the gym that he teaches at every Thursday with Takagi Sensei. Apparently the Japanese team were using that as their ‘secret’ warm up area. Arakawa Sensei said he didn’t like this, and that all the athletes should have been warming up together, but I think any country hosting such a tournament would have done the same for their own national team.

Female Kumite +60kg
I can’t claim to have watched these categories very much, especially after England’s Katie Hurry and Japan’s Ayaka Arai both crashed out in their first rounds. Amy was obviously watching them intently so I decided to go wandering around the stadium. On the way I bumped into the England squad and said hello to a few of them.

USA vs France

The USA’s Elisa Fonseca Au and France’s T. Fanjat ended up getting to the finals of the Female Kumite +60kg. Fanjat completely outclassed the USA fighter and won convincingly with 2 body punches and a head kick to 1 body punch making the final score 5-1 to France.

Male Kumite +80kg

Japan working hard

England’s Davin Pack fought well in the first round against Germany’s J. Horne, the score was 3-1 just before the buzzer when Davin threw a head kick which connected but didn’t get scored by the referee’s.

The French team watching the fight closely

Italy’s S. Maniscalco met France’s I. Gary in the final which was a close fight. France scored first with a body punch, which was quickly followed by the same technique from Italy. France scored another, and Italy again equalised.

Italy vs France

Then, with a little time left Italy scored another point and France was unable to equalise. Italy won 3-2.


Mens Kumite -70kg

1st - r.aghayev(aze)
2nd - t.moussa(egy)
3rd - s.baghbani(can) and s.nagaki(jpn)

Mens Kumite -75kg

1st - d.dubo(chi)
2nd - m.basturk(tur)
3rd - m.mohamed(egy) and k.matsuhisa(jpn)

Mens Kumite -80kg

1st - s.ibuchi(jpn)
2nd - i.eldaruchev(rus)
3rd - h.keshta(egy) and a.prenov(kaz)

Female Kumite +60kg

1st - t.fanjat(fra)
2nd - e.fonseca au(usa)
3rd - e.podborodnikova(rus) and c.feo gomez(esp)

Male Kumite +80kg

1st - s.maniscalco(ita)
2nd - i.gary(fra)
3rd - c.robb(sco) and j.horne(ger)

I think it was great to be able to watch the best fighters from around the world fight it out for the number one spot. The fact that the World Championships was held in Japan, the birthplace of the Sport/Martial Art made the competition that bit more special.

I was surprised at the fighting style that tended to be successful, the techniques were very flamboyant compared to what I’m accustomed to. The most popular technique was still reverse punch, but it was performed in a very embellished way and then the finish was very important. Like Richard has already said, if the fighter didn’t recover well or get into a dominant position after the technique then they didn’t get the score. Again like Richard has already mentioned, it was great to have benefited from Oliva Sensei’ experience the week before watching this tournament because you could see his theories in action.

Throws and head kicks were very popular but these tended to be in the earlier rounds, a lot of the fighters became cagey in the last few rounds, obviously they didn’t want to mess up.

The European fighters faired very well in the tournament as a whole, though I didn’t like their way of moving. A lot of them were bouncing too much and actually becoming airborne on every bounce. I find that this makes you vulnerable to attack whilst you’re ‘in the air’. Also, most of the Europeans tended to bounce the majority of the time away, and then make a sudden dash for a single point just before the end. England seemed to be using this strategy in a lot of fights, however the match occasionally went to a referee’s decision which didn’t always go well for England. I’ve always preferred to get points early and hold them rather than having to ’chase’ the game for 3 minutes.

I was surprised at how many bouts went to encho-sen or extra time, where the first to score would win. I was even more surprised at the amount of play-acting there was with regards to injuries, in fact some bouts were won purely on a fighters acting ability. I thought, or rather hoped that at this level of competition, there would be no place for that sort of thing.

On the whole it was a great competition, and the crowd really got into some of the matches making the atmosphere electric. I was obviously disappointed with England’s performance but this was the first major challenge for the newly formed English Karate Federation (EKF), so the only way is up for us.

Hero Worshipped - Kids would follow the Japanese team around to get their autographs...

The full tournament results can be viewed here:

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