This year the WKU World Championships were held in London at the Radisson-Blu Edwardian Hotel and Conference Centre and being on home turf, England fielded a full team with seven competitors from the Fighting Falcons School of Martial Arts and Andover Martial Arts and Fitness Centre (AMAFC).
Spread over four days the competition ran two days of individual and team eliminations followed by two days of finals.
As usual the competition started with the youngsters taking to the mats. Falcon Sophie Nandan fought well in her first championships to finish with a bronze in the girls -50kg and in the boys -40kg, Connor Burdock struggled in the individual points and light contact due to the size difference. However he bounced back to win his elimination team fights finishing with a silver for Team England.
In the girls’ musical forms, AMAFC’s young Cassa Mai went up against Canada and the United States. An impressive display saw her just a few points behind the leader going into the final round where she stepped it up another level and smashed her form taking the world title in what is her first international competition.
In the adult divisions Falcon Sophie Robinson made her international debut winning her first fight 9-6 to get through to the quarter-finals where she went out to a strong fighter from Wales. All in all a good performance that she can be proud of.
Next up against Germany was Falcons’ and England coach Gordon Mitchell in the -80kg Veterans division. Unfortunately Mitchell pulled up with a calf injury in the first exchange but in a typical show of stubbornness continued to fight on the one good leg and amazingly stole a win from a frustrated German fighter. After some heavy strapping Mitchell continued on to the semi-finals where the lack of movement resulted in a close fight but a loss and a bronze.
In the mens Veterans +80kg, AMAFC coach Andrew Lavery fought some great battles, convincingly beating his two German opponents to make it through to the finals against England teammate Trevor John. With both John and Lavery carrying injuries, the final was a close and cagey affair. In the end it was John’s greater experience being the small difference between the two. Another silver for Lavery, no small achievement considering he went into the competition with a severe shoulder injury.
Unfortunately the competition had taken its toll on the male team and with John, Lavery and Mitchell all out, England were unable to field a team to defend their current world title.
Last was Falcon Brandon Prince in the junior -65kg division and he was in another class altogether going ten points clear and smashing his Canadian and German opponents in the first round and quarter- final fights. His semi-final against Wales was the real final and tight in the early stages and by the end Brandon had the measure of his opponent and eased ahead to win 10-8. The final against Lebanon was a showcase of point fighting in which Brandon used every technique in the book winning 20-2 over two rounds. The final score raised a massive cheer as Brandon executed a well-timed spinning sweep to put his opponent on the floor.
World Champion number five for Team Falcons and a World Champion for AMAFC. There must be something in the water...