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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Legend Shotokan Open 2012



On Saturday 10th March the annual Legend Shotokan Open took place at Bracknell Leisure Centre. It was, as usual a display of fantastic, traditional karate from some fantastic karateka. The standard of competitor gets higher every year, and with each year that passes the competition gets bigger and bigger.

In a competition of this size mistakes are inevitably going to happen, and so a good competition cannot be judged on whether mistakes happen or not, but on how effectively those mistakes are dealt with. 

Having a good day, I was lucky enough to have scored the highest total points in the second round of the ladies dan grade kata, yet found myself not called for the finals. When realising what had happened, I went to speak to the officials at the table, who immediately contacted Colin Putt and Gerry Breeze. The mistake was rectified almost immediately as was done so with a smile and a professional attitude, as it always is where these two gentlemen are concerned to be fair. Attending competitions is always a far more positive experience when those in charge of the day are professional and passionate about the event.

The under sixteen kata competitions were all very impressive, with a few youngsters showing some amazing displays of mature karate. The 12 to 15 Brown and Black belt category was a pleasure to watch, and in particular Elliott Smith and Laura Divers gave an inspiring display during the finals.

As always I was amazed by the respect afforded to those competing in the kata finals. The room was hushed and each competitor was cheered when they reached the end of the kata. Normally you find that kata, particularly ladies, it has to be said is not afforded the same level of respect as the kumite but in this competition you most certainly do not see that. It makes you feel proud to compete in something that is afforded a certain sense of importance.

The kumite, as always was so exciting to watch, with some very promising youngsters coming up the ranks. The final between Jamie Pepper and Lucas Haynes was a great show, and both youngsters showed much promise during the earlier rounds.

As usual the men's team kumite was amazing. There is something infectious about watching a group of men forcing their will on the opposing team, and you get arrived away in the atmosphere whether it’s your team on the mat or not! There were the usual outstanding displays from the SEKU, Takakai and Seishinkai teams, all placing in a few of the separate team finals.

I was impressed by the luck of injuries this year, particularly in the youngsters’ categories. This comes from vigilant refereeing and is something that can make or break a competition. Now that I am taking younger teams to compete this is something I notice and place emphasis on far more, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the control and confidence of the officials in these categories.

I cannot praise the use of sanbon kumite for the under 11year old enough. As I said, taking a team with me for the first time meant that I had more to worry about than my own performance, and knowing that my kids could participate in the kumite in a safer more structured nature was fantastic. It is a perfect stepping stone for them, still having opportunity to show their spirit and to step on the mat without the risk of injury. 

The next Legend Shotokan Open will take place on Saturday March 9th 2013 and I urge you all to support it. Being a traditional competitor is getting harder and harder these days. There are less and less good quality, reliable competitions available to us and so when they are there, we have to make the effort to support them, because with the massive rising push to include karate in the Olympics, we could very well find ourselves becoming extinct...


Emma Robins