AMA North West Open
Castle Leisure Centre, Bury, 2nd April 2006
Report & Photos by Martyn Skipper
The North West Open is a regular on the circuit for many prestigious clubs, including Silsden, Yamakai, British Wado and EKKA, as well as a strong contingent from the host association, AMA.
This year there was a change of venue from Darwen, home to the tournament for the last few years, to neighbouring Bury. The new venue meant six areas could be accommodated in a single hall. Two squash courts were made available for athlete warm up areas, and the administration was managed from a balcony area away from the action- a format successfully deployed a couple of weeks previously at the English Championships in Sheffield.
The regular categories of individual and team, senior and junior, kata and kumite were augmented by the inclusion of Sougo Budo events. As far as I can ascertain, “Sougo Budo” translates as “reciprocal martial art” or, more simply, “fighting”. So what makes it different from other systems? Introduced to the UK at the AMA International Open as a demonstration event, Sougo Budo was discovered by Peter Allen on his travels around Europe, where it is becoming increasingly popular. Both combatants wear tightly fitting body armour, and a headguard with a transparent polycarbonate visor covering the face. Because of the mask, which has holes for the eyes and a mouth hole to assist with breathing, no gumshield is necessary, but WKF style gloves, footguards and groin guards are worn. Scoring is in English, and consists of a single point for a punch, and two points for a kick. All infringements carry a penalty of two points for a first offence, and disqualification for a second infraction. A blow is considered excessive if the head is forced back such that the recipient can “see the moon”. Otherwise there are no limits to the level of contact. Indeed if a blow knocks your opponent down, you are immediately awarded victory. The whole of the body armour is considered to be the scoring area, but only the front of the visor scores. Any blow to the side of the headguard carries a penalty. Because of the novelty of the event, only a limited number of entries were submitted. Therefore the male event was open weight, and childrens’ categories were segregated by weight, but mixed sex. Perhaps because they had prior opportunity to try out the kit, USKA had a clean sweep of these events, carrying away all of the available trophies in all categories. Notable was USKA veteran Darren Snell who made light work of all his opponents, flooring USKA team-mate Alex Mason, and this correspondent, in the elimination rounds, for his first Gold of the day.
In the traditional WKF tournaments, the pee wee events were heavily subscribed, and, despite extending the action to three tatami areas, the eliminations were still running well after lunch, putting everything else behind schedule. In such a large field, any podium place was surely well deserved, and Terry Pottage’s Kenyukai did particularly well. Notably, Aaron Kiernan took gold in the U309kg kumite, and bronze in the kata, whilst older brother Jake took the junior kata title.
The senior male kata was a strongly contested affair. Despite strong performances from, notably BYAKKO and Kenyukai, Gold, Silver, and one Bronze medal went to USKA, with Steven Pycroft, performing his winning Suparimpei for the first time in competition. The second Bronze went to AMA stable mate, former KUGB star Dean Pallas. In the other kata categories, BYAKKO fared better, picking up first and third in the cadet boys’ event, as well as first in the junior kyu grade section.
Of the other visitors, regulars Yamakai from north of the border took the majority of the kumite prizes.
I spoke briefly to Silsden’s World Champion Paul Newby who was there in his capacity as coach to his club, Sport Karate. He confirmed that he has now forsaken amateur karate competition for professional boxing, and therefore would not be defending his title in Tampere, Finland in October. He was in good spirits and I congratulated him on his victory in his first pro fight. He said that he found the transition relatively easy, and had no trouble with the fitness. Additionally, he admitted that as a karateka he had favoured tewaza over keriwaza, and therefore the rules of the ring proved less of a challenge to him than others who attempted the transition from the tatami. His next pro fight is two weeks away (at time of writing) so here’s hoping that when you read this, Paul’s record will be two wins out of two.
This year seemed to be the year of the oldie. In the heavyweight kumite, USKA’s Darren Snell- recovering from a knee injury that had kept him out of this year’s Masters Kumite at the English Championships - met young England international Adam Hadfield in the final. On this occasion experience triumphed over youth, giving Snell his second title of the day. As chance would have it, Hadfield and Snell met again in the team Kumite final. Once more Snell saw victory, as did his USKA team.
With a young field in the lightwewight kumite, your writer entered the event more out of hope than expectation. Nevertheless first score in the encho sen in the semi final put me in the final against Kenyukai’s Sean Towey, where again the wrinkly prevailed over the young buck.
Amy Nelson of NWKA took the senior female kata title. Emma Boyle of Yamakai beat her team mate Nicole Blair in the female heavyweight kumite final, whilst local girl Lisa Hill of USKA took the openweight title.
Organiser Peter Allen told me that next year’s event is likely to be at the same venue, and asked me to thank his support team, and the referees under Terry Pottage, for the smooth running of the event.