2nd BKF Youth Championships,
 Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield 26th-27th June 04
Report & Photos by Martyn Skipper
This is the British Summer. Tennis at Wimbledon, Racing at Ascot, Rowing at Henley, and now a new tradition is emerging with the Youth Karate Championships at Sheffield. The old steel city doesn’t quite have the cachet of the Home Counties, but the facilities at Ponds Forge, the central location and accessibility are ideal for a British championships and the centre is becoming the venue of choice for Karate events.
The quality of youth karate in Britain is impressive today and the standard of sportsmanship, athleticism and technical prowess lived up to all high expectations.
This year 395 competitors, representing 30 clubs and associations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland competed over two days. Day one was a long affair, with the officials finally packing up at 10.30, but that meant that Sunday was over with quickly. Even with an hour’s lunch break, all the presentations were done by 4.30.
Youth kata is consistently crisp and mature these days and, like kumite, its future is in excellent hands.  Honours were evenly shared amongst the federations, and countries in the individual events, and the AMA took the team title, again stamping their authority on this event.
Of the hundreds of kumite competitors, on caught my eye in the early rounds, and I choose this opportunity to showcase 15 year old Daniel Johnson in the 14-15 year old boys’ 70k+ category. Daniel has been practising karate for 5 years and is currently graded first dan with Toyakwai. Hailing from Braintree, Essex, he cites his coaches Dean Simpson, Joe Anderson and Lacky Lawrence as his inspiration. His previous best individual performance was third in the AMA open in Nottingham last year, but his assured composed mat demeanour and sharp counter-gyaku in the early rounds promised better. A Semi-final win against KMAC’s A.Pooley set up an interesting final against T Gordon of Fudoshin. With his distinctive sculpted hairstyle, and an altogether more dynamic, flamboyant style, the taller Gordon was a marked contrast to his opponent. In the final, fist blood went to Johnson with a fast right hand reverse punch.  This early lead seemed to unsettle his opponent who did not show the flair he had exhibited in the earlier rounds. A couple of uncontrolled headshots from Gordon gave Simpson another ippon. Gordon struggled to cope with Johnson’s slick gyaku, but showed some of his earlier panache  with an excellent jodan Geri for sanbon. In the end it was Simpson 5-3, but there is no doubt a great future for both these gentlemen.
In the 75k+ final Shuhari’s Grosvenor met Hanko Ryu’s Mike Roche. Grosvenor is not your classical mesomorph athlete’s build, but despite that moves quickly and shows flexibility and flair. Roche was a determined competitor, and kept attacking, sometimes to his detriment, frequently falling foul of the counter attack, but nevertheless keeping the pressure on. A loose jodan mawashigeri thrown by Roche was caught by Grosvenor, and a sweep punch follow up gave a deserved sanbon. An exciting match which finished 10-3 to Grosvenor.
The final event of the day was the male team final between Scotland’s Sakai coached by Kris Coulter, and England’s Shikon coached by Paul Wood. Round one saw Shikon’s Aman Panesar against Sakai’s Steven Rooney. This was a dynamic, leggy affair with each fighter taking sanbon with jodan geri in the first few seconds. A deciding jodan ushiromawashi from the Scot decided the bout at 6-3 to Sakai. Next up was Chris Mendes from Shikon against Steven Gray.  The Sakai fighter took the first gyaku, then a feint ashibarai/ gyakutsuki follow-up made it 2-0. Mendes now needed to score, and a sharp chudan mawashigeri for nihon made it 2-2 to keep Shikon in the match. In the final bout, Shikon’s David Plested faced Sakai’s Craig Moffat. The Sakai team are great kickers, and first blood went to Moffat with a fast ushiromawashi for sanbon. A single from gyakutsuki followed .The pressure was really on Shikon now, and Plested showed his desperation with a couple of attempted throws, and a wild, turning ushiro geri attempt. With two individual bronzes from the weekend already to his credit, Plested is no slouch and continued his attack, a fast lead leg ushiromawashi so nearly made it 3-4, but Moffat was quicker still, and neatly avoided the attack countering chudan mawash for  a 6-0 lead. Another head kick from the Scot sealed victory for the bout, and the event.
Presenting the trophies was VIP guest Oliver Brunton, Executive  Member of the BKF, and President of the Northern Ireland branch. Ollie has been a referee for 20 years and was on the WKF referees council for 13 years latterly as General Secretary. He said it was “good to see such a high standard of youth karate”. I asked him his opinion of the modern competition rules, and he opined that the 3-points for a head kick rule, and the throwing/ grappling  was “very exciting” and he applauded the athleticism of the modern karate competitor.
His son James took the Gold in the cadet -75k event. Earlier in the day, his compatriot Mairead Hardy took the Female -60k gold, Northern Ireland’s first title in a British Championships. How pleasing for Ollie then that his son made it two in one weekend.
An excellent weekend. Summarised by two of the organisers: First, former World Champion, Abdu Shaher; “I am impressed by the wealth of talent in Youth Karate. I look forward to an even better event in 2005.” And from Head Referee Doug James: “I was pleased with the overall standard of refereeing. With over 50 referees and judges in attendance it was pleasure to see so many willing to support this event”.
Forthcoming events for your diary:
 4th-5th September British International open Crystal Palace
18th-19th September English Children’s Championships, Ponds Forge
23rd-24th October British Senior Championships , Crystal Palace.
For more details contact Abdu on
abdushah@aol.com or see www.britishkarate.com