On Sunday 20th March, Daniel, Tristan, Raghu and I fought in the Kudo Nationals at the Arnold Classic. Everyone conducted themselves extremely well and put in great performances, making me very proud.
There was no-one in the 230PI Master’s division, and the open division was full of 100kg + fighters, so I fought in the 240PI Adult division. While I didn’t mind fighting younger and bigger opponents, it was unfortunate that three from Sobukan were in the same division.
Tristan was first up, fighting Alex, a wrestling and Kudo champ from QLD. Tristan matched him in the striking, but was outwrestled by the champion wrestler. He put in a valiant effort to fight to a draw in the first round, and almost caught his opponent in an ankle lock before finally being caught by a knee bar in the extension round.
I fought Ian Teng next, a Melbourne based BJJ/MMA/Kudo fighter who visited us at Sobukan last year. Ian was the heaviest in the division, I was the smallest! I managed to win my fight, landing a front kick to the face, a spinning heel kick to the liver, a big leg kick, a hip throw and some strikes from knee ride.
Raghu got a bye.
Daniel then fought a muay Thai fighter, and was unfortunate to injure his shin when his opponent leg checked his very first leg kick with his knee. Daniel fought on regardless and at the end of a back and forth battle with some huge knees, punches and kicks, and a nice takedown by Daniel, he emerged the eventual winner. However, due to the shin injury, he was unable to continue and was awarded the silver medal.
Next Raghu fought Ian in the fight of his life. Raghu looked like a pro as he used agile footwork, sublime angles and leveraged his reach advantage to pepper Ian with a smorgasbord of kicks and punches, winning by a distinct margin.
Alex got a bye. Raghu and I were then scheduled to fight to meet Alex in the final. I had made a decision in advance to withdraw if I had to fight one my students. It would not be fair to them to fight their instructor and a hollow victory to beat a student. I chose my role of ‘coach’ over my role as ‘fighter’ to progress Raghu to the final.
Raghu fought hard against the champion, but despite Raghu landing some great kicks and surviving some slick submission attempts, Alex’s wrestling was too strong and Raghu had to tap to a tight arm bar with just one second remaining on the clock. Raghu was awarded the silver medal, and I the bronze.
Also from SA, Garry and Jordan Smith showed great heart in battles in their respective divisions. Garry unfortunately re-injured his knee and was unable to continue in the third round with his strong opponent. Young Jordan fought a much bigger, older opponent and made everyone proud, but his opponent Harvey was too strong.
Huge thanks to Sean W and Daniel C who worked as marshals at the event, and supported our team on the day. Also thank you to Justin for his conditioning programme and guidance to the fighters in the lead up to the competition.
Thank you to Paul Cale Shibucho, Geordie Lavers McBain and Tony Watts for putting on a great event, and to the Silvio Morelli and the promoters from Blitz for the opportunity for exposure to the greater martial arts community.