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7 Gakushuin members attended the 2012 Legend Shotokan Karate open championships, held in Bracknell.

Fighting under what was claimed to be JKA competition rules (shobu ippon) demonstrating the usual haphazard application of rules, nevertheless the competition was well supported, and well attended ensuring a hard day for all concerned.

Our Squad were led by our Assistant Chief Instructor, Brian Hall Sensei who managed the team and their efforts brilliantly, his team (in addition to himself were: Jonathan Hall, competing in his first Shobu Ippon event as a Cadet/Senior, Jenny Hopwood, Hayley Just, Mac McInroy and lastly John Gilliland (the Boss, or old fart, whichever suits best).

Kata was performed in pairs using the shitei or compulsory rounds, using Heian Shodan – Godan mostly at random, initially it appeared as though the competition was a knockout, and certainly was organised as such, then it seemed it was according to the more traditional scoring system, sadly Jenny and Jonathan were eliminated early on.

Brian and Mac had more impressive performances winning several rounds, indeed whilst competing for a place in the final, I was seriously impressed (a huge rarity in itself) when Brian performed Heian Sandan, and was marked down, the explanation when queried that it was not according to master Nakayama’s books, held short shrift, a replay saw Brian perform the best Heian Godan I have seen, and that without any bias, once again, the scoring was abysmal and Brian lost out on the medals, not through inability of himself, but rather than bias of inexperienced and blinkered thinking of judges too set in their ways to understand that karate out of a book lacks any real credibility.

Hayley however, showed we are up for any challenges, having no opponents in her category, she entered the mens Kata, the only girl, and showed just how determined she can be, eliminating one after the other and sadly only just missing gold, nevertheless a well-deserved Silver and our only Kata placing.

Kumite however, saw a different picture, one which Gakushuin placed there names firmly on the board and let everyone know who we were.

Jenny competed in the women’s Senior Dan Grades, alongside here was Hayley, having no-one in the Women’s Kyu Grades (her opponent withdrew, Brian and I think she saw Hayley and got scared) so Hayley simply entered the women’s Dan Grades, the girls both fought brilliantly, eliminating their opponents respectively until the quarter finals where they narrowly lost out, nevertheless both gained a very worthy Bronze.

The men’s event had our three old farts, Brian, Mac and John in the veterans category, john first up and facing a determined but inexperienced yellow belt. There were three Kyu grades in this category, and I cannot help thinking the organisers were trying to scrimp financially, as it would have been no problem to hold a kyu grade veteran’s event rather than enter yellow belts in such a high graded and experienced category.  One good point to note was the placing of ourselves in the category draw; we were properly drawn thus ensuring we would not meet each other until at least the quarter finals.

Mac was next up and despatched his opponent using some strong and very effective Gyaku tsuki’s, Brian, currently our most current competition fighter quickly despatched his opponents, despite suffering a torn hamstring during his kata performances, favouring his good side to reduce the likelihood of further damage, he still occasionally forgot, and was suddenly limping and massaging his rump, nevertheless he worked his way steadily through his opponents to reach the final.

John and Mac met each other in the semi-finals, with the second place in the final at stake, this was going to be interesting, having trained and fought together many times over the years, each knowing what was likely, and more important, how much pain could be coming J

Flurries of punches producing very little until Mac tried his Jodan Mawashi, john blocking and spinning the leg, thus allowed a Gyaku Tsuki to the unguarded back to clinch the place in the finals having obtained Ippon.

The veterans finals between John and Brian was reasonably even then Brian went Waza Ari up, John determined to even the score attacked with vengeance, tried a new technique of blocking with his nose as Brian launched his Gyaku Tsuki, besides the blood (which did not flow freely enough, and decided simply to stay in my nostrils until later) the red mist descended, Brian reaching for his reeboks, and John realising he was in the wrong, calmed down (it is one of my less admirable traits, sorry Bri), a very well deserved win for Brian, and a Gold, Silver, and Bronze for Gakushuin.

Clearly I am getting past it to be still competing, but I have always tried to lead from the front, and believe if I teach how to fight, I would not wish to be as some, and talk about how to fight, whilst never placing themselves beside those they teach, and in the firing line. Thankfully we no have a very worthy Assistant Chief Instructor who embraces competition fully, and can lead Gakushuin members forward, continuing our tradition be being prepared to fight, anyone, anywhere, and under any rules.

The men’s team (Brian, Mac and John) fought brilliantly, sadly however, as we worked our way up the knockout sheet we were beaten in the semi-finals resulting with a Bronze.

Our mixed team had a blazing time, team order of Mac at number 1, followed by Hayley at Number 2 and Brian our third fighter, Mac and Hayley worked wonders, cutting through the opposition and saving Brian from aggravating his hamstring injury, sadly again losing in the semi-finals but nevertheless adding another team bronze to the collection.

Our hugely impressive trophy haul from a squad of 6 was

1 Gold

2 Silver

5 Bronze (including the two team bronze)

I was and am very proud of Gakushuin, at the Legend Championships we demonstrated that our karate is good, that we practise what we preach, and should always be proud of who we are and what we do.

As Chief Instructor I am hugely impressed by all our instructors and members, the participants at the competition reminded me how we teach, and what we practise is right, we do not claim to be better than anyone (well not many) but we do command respect especially through the achievements of our members.

Well done everyone



Gakushuin Calendar


WUKF World Champions 2016

A Hearty congratulations to Brian Hall and Hayley Just on becoming WUKF World Champions 2016

Clearly a force to be reckoned with.

Best wishes from all at Gakushuin