Guten morgen from Germany! Our team from East West just wrapped up a full and eventful day of competition at the 5th European Kuoshu Cup in Germany. Our USA team consisted of Master Buckley, Master Ozuna, Mrs. Newman, Ms. Baker, Ms. Berch, Mr. Stamm, Mrs. Fitzsimmons, Mr. Fitzsimmons and Mrs. Topacio-Call.
First, we'd like to thank Master Alex Czech and the TWKSF for putting on such a fantastic event. Master Buckley has known Master Czech since they first met at the 6th ICKF world tournament in 1989 and have maintained a close relationship since. Our students have been coming to Master Czech's tournaments since 1998, and it is always a first class event. The German team has been so hospitable and made us all feel very welcomed. The team was all excited to have Grandmaster Huang at the tournament with us. It's always an honor and an education when we are able to be around him and International tournaments like these give us that opportunity.
The tournament started off as Master Buckley helped to ring in the opening ceremonies with a speech as a representative of Grandmaster Lee. Master Ozuna also joined the opening ceremonies with a fantastic demonstration that got thunderous applause from the crowd. Master Buckley, Master Ozuna and Mrs. Newman spent the day coaching the team, referring, judging forms and helping to make sure things ran smoothly. Tournaments like these are great because our students really get our full attention. All three had an opportunity to see almost every event our team competed in and were able to give some invaluable feedback to the competitors.
The tournament was a big success for our entire team. Here are some of the highlights for each team member.
Mrs. Topacio-Call was our lowest ranking member of the team and did an exceptional job at the competition. She was able to participate in two events and took home a silver medal in Women's Northern Long Weapon under 5 years experience division! It has been such a pleasure having her with us on this trip and getting to know her better. We're confident that we'll be seeing much more of her on trips with us in the future.
Mrs. Fitzsimmons was also able to compete in two divisions and earned a gold medal in the Women's Northern Form over 5 years experience division! She set an incredible example for her personal student, Mrs. Call. Master Buckley commented that this event made it clear that she is moving closer to her black belt in both spirit and movement abilities. She was a joy to have on the trip and we are so glad that she made the decision to bring her son to this international competition, as it was an important experience for both of them.
Mr. Fitzsimmons placed first in all six of his divisions! He had a an impressive showing in his light contact division, winning 4 matches to earn the title. He was running between rings during the division and learned a great lesson about adaptation and maintaining focus. He earned a new nickname because of this… (Make sure to ask him about it when you see him next). Mr. Fitzsimmons grew by leaps and bounds at this event. As the lei tai team was warming up, they needed a fourth and pulled him in. He learned quickly what sparring was all about. He also had the opportunity to compete in the adult division with Mr. Stamm as his two man set partner and was pushed to new levels. It was obvious to all that he is a changed young man!
Mr. Stamm has been with East West since he was a little kid and was one of our earlier junior brown belts. After some time away from the school in college, he wanted to fulfill the opportunity he had in his youth and has come back with a new passion, focus and enthusiasm. He made a great effort to be at this tournament and knew it would be an important experience for him. He did a fantastic job and learned some valuable lessons that will serve him well on his way to his black belt and the next world championship. He brought home an impressive 5 gold medals and undoubtedly had black belt spirit, determination and focus at this event.
Ms. Berch had another stellar performance at this tournament. She has been competing internationally with our team since 2000, when she was 7 years old. Her wealth of experience on the world stage was definitely evident throughout the day. She remained calm, cool and collected even with last minute changes to her lei tai category. As she has done in the past, Ms. Berch voluntarily bumped up a weight division to give a competitor without any competition someone to fight. Not only did her competitor have 30 plus pounds on her, but Ms. Berch ended the fight after the first round when her opponent threw in the towel. Ms. Beech is building quite an international reputation. Her consistency and longevity with tournaments like these has made her a seasoned competitor and a force to be reckoned with.
Ms. Baker also added another great tournament to her already impressive resume. She truly showed what focus means and proved why she is a two time world champion. With food poisoning from some bad meat that morning, Ms. Baker went out there and ended her fight in the first round by knocking her opponent off the lei tai 5 times. She competed in 6 events thought the afternoon and not once complained about her illness. She gutted it out and showed the heart and dedication of a black belt. She placed either first of second in every single one of her divisions and made us all very proud.
International tournaments like the 5th European Kuoshu Cup are amazing experiences for our students. They are able to represent the USA along with their system, and gain invaluable experience not only for their martial arts careers but also for their lives. We hope that you all have a chance to join us on one of these trips in the future. Congratulations to everyone the competed at the European Cup. As always, it was a pleasure to see our Kuoshu family and we can't wait for the next one!