The Golden Belt

The Future Of Martial Arts The 2005 Golden Belt semi-contact series has certainly lived up to its promise that any-thing could, and indeed would happen. The action has been nothing short of spectacular, and the skill, passion and will to win exhibit-ed by every competitor have been the driving force behind its success.

The penultimate event was once again a mix of those who had fought before and those who were new to the competition. As Master Ronnie Green,

Golden Belt World Vice-President said, It’s good to be able to come to these events and see how the fighters are improving. There are fighters

I’ve seen before, new fighters coming in, and there’s a great mix. Anyone can come in and enjoy the action, and anyone can get involved. There are no exclusions, and everyone can just enjoy taking part. The Golden Belt can provide the unity that we need, bringing everybody together, regardless of what association they are a part of, or what gym they train at. There’s no need to exclude anyone, and that will make us all work that little bit harder, to prove that we are indeed the best of the best. The thing that people need to remember above all about the Golden Belt is that we are here to be a positive force, to combat the negativity that exists in martial arts and to give the fighters a real opportunity to shine.

The thriving Junior competition got underway with the Under 135cm divi-sion, and another first class display by Nicholas Michael. The current points leader, who was clearly keen to cement his position, entered into a round robin final against the returning Ryan Andrews, and first time

Golden Belt competitor Joe Dadson. Michael versus Andrews was first up, with Michael taking the win in a very close contest by a score of 5 points to 3. Andrews then stayed on the mat to defeat Dadson in a bout that showcased his athleticism as he opened up a clear lead with head and jumping kicks. Michael returned to take on Dadson in the decider, and showed exactly why he is leading the pack by dominating the fight, taking his second win and the heat victory.

The Under 145cm division featured Solihull clubmates Thomas Dadson and Connor Doyle facing off for third place in a very close battle, with each keen to outdo the other. It was Dadson who came out on top, however, with a score of 7 points to 6, to make it two third places for the same family. In the final, the two leading competitors, Chris Andrews and Nathan Coleman faced off in what turned out to be quite a low scoring contest, as both struggled to make clean contact. Coleman took the win in the end, by a score of 4-0, which leaves the intriguing situation of the two being tied for the overall lead. Which one will go through to the Golden Belt finals? It’s too close to call, and everything rests on the results of the next event.

The Under 155cm division saw the winner of the previous two heats, Louise Nelson, get off to a flyer by defeating first time entrant Dennis

Morris. Her semifinal matchup wasn’t to be as straightfor-ward, though, as she took on Chris Andrews, who had entered a second cat-egory to further test his skills. In one of the best battles of the day, the two couldn’t be separated in normal time, and it took an extra period of overtime before Nelson was able to eke out a lead and go through to the heat final. Andrews went on to take third place with a win over Gavin

Hetherington, whilst Nelson faced Callum Hawthorne to see who would take home ten points and the winner’s trophy. 94

In a contest that was all about blocking and countering, Nelson once again exhibited exceptional skill to take control and build an unassailable lead. Despite all of Hawthor-ne’s efforts, he was unable to break down her defences, and Nelson picked up a 5-1 victory.

The Over 155cm Division enjoyed its largest ever turnout, and in this case, quantity did equate to quality, with all of the fighters putting forth their very best efforts. It was a familiar face taking the category win, however, as Ashleigh Holmes showed exactly why many are already tipping her for the title. After defeating Phillip Peverelle in the first semi-final, Holmes’ intelligent tactics gave her a 4-1 victory over

Ben Smart in the final. Smart had looked impres-sive in defeating third-placed Scott Andrews, but was unable to withstand Holmes’ onslaught as she used her feet well en route to the ten points.

The Women’s Under 60kg competi-tion has been a lot more open than many were expecting, and last year’s champion Grace Jenkinson certainly hasn’t had it all her own way. Jenkinson once again tasted defeat at the semi-final stage, as Karen Sutton was able to go underneath her kicks and counter with lightning-fast punches to advance to the final. Her opponent was decided in the second semi-final, as Amanda Menzies overcame another familiar fighter, Jordan Rose Keough, in a hard-fought battle that showed why any one of these four fighters would be a deserving champion.

On the day, there could be only one winner, and the final was a far more even contest than the scores might sug-gest. Both Menzies and Sutton used every weapon in their arsenal to try and outpoint their opponent, but this resulted in a number of double scores, whereby the referees simply couldn’t agree as to who had scored first, so awarded points to both fighters. Menzies was slowly able to build a lead, though, by attacking intelligently and making full use of the scoring system, with two-points being added to her tally for each successful kick to the head. It was a lead she had to work hard to maintain, but one that she would never relinquish, as she went on to claim the victory by 11 points to 5.

The Women’s Over 65kg category had something of a deja vu feeling about it, as the final became a re-run of the previous event. Both semi- finals were decided by a narrow margin, as Sharon Read defeated Tracey Holmes 4-3 and Chris Hubbart took the win against Kulbir Bansal 6-5.

This meant that points leader Read would take on Hubbart for the second time, but first there was the matter of third place to settle. After a back and forth contest, Holmes was able to get the edge, and defeated Bansal 8-5 to take home 5 points and the tanto sword.

Although it featured the same two fighters, the final was a much higher scoring affair than heat 4. Read and Hubbart had both learned from their previous encounter, and were able to avoid and counter each other’s moves. Once again, however, it was Read who was able to get the edge and take home the victory by 8 points to 3. Hubbart was philosophical about her defeat though, and promised to come back for an even stronger challenge next time around. I usually like to go out and get the first attack in, she explained, but it didn’t work that way today. Sharon is so good with her legs that I was forced to use my hands more, and to try and get in underneath, but she always seems to be able to catch me with her kicks to the head. She is a great fighter, but I’ll get her one of these days! The Men’s competition started with the Under 65kg category, and amazingly, every single bout was decided by just one point. Although much has been made of the fact that anything can hap- pen in Golden Belt competition, nobody was expecting this! One of the highlights was Kyriacos Michael’s semi-final bout with Idris Williams, which was 2-2 at the end of normal time, then 4-4 at the end of overtime. Sudden death was the only way to separate the two, but Michael was eventually able to take it by 5 points to 4.

The other semi-final saw Mark Hylton defeat Dave Waller, setting up a final between Michael and Hylton. It’s difficult to convey in words just how close all of these fighters were in terms of ability, technique and determination to win, but there had to be a winner, and the day belonged to Hylton, as he took the victory by 6 points to 5. This allowed him to leapfrog Michael and take first place in the overall standings, but any one of these four could still take the division, and once again, everything rests on the results of event 6.

The action continued in the Under 70kg division, as a round-robin final saw Rob Hopkinson, Greg White and Dave Keough go at it. Keough’s con- sistency has earned him the category lead, but White and Hopkinson are hot on his heels, and the three-way final was an opportunity to see all three of them in action. The luck of the draw seemed to work in Hopkinson’s favour, though, as he defeated White, then got to rest as Keough and White went one-on-one. White’s second defeat meant that Hopkinson and Keough would battle it out for the ten points, and it was the refreshed Hopkinson who took the win, by a score of 5-0.

The Under 75kg competition was next up, and there was another round-robin final, but despite the format, there was still no clear winner. Andy Ennis beat

Peter Cook by 3 points to 1, then Cook bounced back to defeat Kevin Nailor 6-0. If Ennis could defeat Nailor in the third fight, then he would take the overall victory, but the student was unable to defeat his instructor, as Nailor won by 4 points to 1. With each fighter on one win, some frantic arithmetic was called for, as the points scored had to be taken into account. Cook had the highest total from both fights (7), so was declared the winner, but as

Nailor and Ennis each had 4 points, Nailor was awarded second place by virtue of his win over Ennis.

After the complexity of the previous categories, the Under 85kg final came as a welcome change, as it was a straightforward one-on-one final.

Kevin Andrews took on Ross Porter in an action-packed bout that saw both fighters giving it everything in a bid to take home the winner’s katana. It was Porter who took the first point, and
he really started as he meant to go on, opening up a lead which Andrews was never able to pull back. The action came thick and fast, but Porter kept control, and was able to win by 5 points to 1.

The old argument that big men can’t move was proven wrong yet again in the Over 85kg division, which was headlined by a return match between

Louis Joseph and Martin Scott. All of the competitors exhibited speed and movement that would put a number of smaller fighters to shame, as they were aware of their environment and used the whole of the mat. The semi-finals saw Joseph beating Darren Lapworth, and the ever-present

Scott taking a win against Kevin Andrews, who had entered his second weight category.

It was all about Joseph versus Scott, though, and just as in the previous heat, the two held absolutely nothing back. The two leading contenders in their weight class put on a real show, and in the end, a single point made all the difference. This time, it was Scott who was able to triumph, though, with a score of 6 points to 5. Each now holds a win over the other, so it will be interesting to see if the two are drawn against each other in heat 6, as we could be in for yet another classic. I’ve been away from competition for about ten years, explained Joseph, but wanted to get back into it, and this was an ideal opportunity.

I’ve really enjoyed getting out there and fighting again. It was nice to get into the finals and take home the swords, but I would have been equally happy knowing that I’d had some good fights. I think that people should definitely come along and support events like this, because you can train for as long as you like, but there’s no substitute for getting out there on the mat and using those skills, and it’s definitely something that should be encouraged.

There’s only one more event left to go before we find out who the 2005 Golden Belt semi-contact champions will be, and one thing is for sure – whoever takes home the belts will certainly never forget their experience.

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