Twenty members from Imperial College Taekwondo (ICUTKD) travelled to Worcester from 16th to 17th March for Spring Championships, the final competition by British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF). Students entered the individual and team poomsae and sparring for both World Taekwondo (WT) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF).

In this event alone, competitors earned a total of 40 medals; 6 gold, 17 silver, and 17 bronze across all disciplines. ICUTKD were awarded 1st place in Kukkiwon poomsae, 3rd place for ITF sparring, and 4th place overall amongst 61 institutions nationwide. This was an excellent way to mark countless hours of practice with Bryan Chong, ICUTKD Chair 2018-19, who helped dramatically improve the club’s quality in poomsae.

BSTF holds three competitions as part of a championships series. Each student athlete accumulates points throughout the series and the club with the most points is awarded the overall prize at the end of the Spring Championship. Alumni can also compete but will not carry points for their representing club. Entries are open for WT and ITF poomsae and sparring for all classes, beginners and experienced alike.

For those unfamiliar, taekwondo is a Korean martial art, and WT sparring has been an Olympic Sports since 1988. Poomsae is also known as forms or patterns, where there are sequences of moves consisting of stances, blocks, punches and kicks. In WT, poomsae is also called “Kukkiwon patterns”, and in ITF “Chang-hon patterns”.

Our Spring Championships medallists for Kukkiwon Patterns, individual, are: Bryan Chong (bronze), Sophia Ppali (bronze), Claire Tjokroidjaja (bronze), Joonho Son (gold), Andrew Bates (bronze), and Cynthia Ho (gold). In pairs: Bryan Chong and Sojin Park (silver), Sophia Ppali and Joonho Son (silver), Andrew Bates and Lucy Lei (gold), Myriam Belmekki and Thomas Kloska (silver). In teams: Bryan Chong, Sojin Park, Syazana Hisham (silver) and Andrew Bates, Cynthia Ho, Lucy Lei (bronze). Bryan Chong also earned a gold in freestyle poomsae, a self-choreographed set of moves in time with music of choice. Our medallists for Chang-hon individual patterns are: Wenbo Chen (bronze), Claire Tjokroidjaja (bronze), Michael Ogunjimi (silver). Pairs: Angela Sun and Wenbo Chen (bronze) and teams: Angela Sun, Wenbo Chen, Brandon Tollan (silver).

WT sparring, also known as kyorugi, is full-contact, so competitors wear body armour and guards on the head, arms, hands, shins and feet. The rules are as follows: 1 point for punch to the body, 2 or 3 for kick to the body or head respectively, 4 or 5 for spinning/ reverse kick to the body or head respectively. In B and C-class, these are scored by corner judges whereas electronic sensors are used in A-class. In ITF sparring, all points are scored by corner judges (typically three of four judges) and the winner is revealed at the end of the match. 1 point for a punch to body, 2 or 3 points are scored for a kick to the body or head respectively. ITF sparrers wear more padding on guards for feet and hands with no body armours so sparring is semi-contact. In both disciplines, competitors are matched by class, gender and weight categories.

Medallists for WT sparring are: Jamie McNeil (bronze), Sojin Park (bronze), Claire Tjokroidjaja (bronze), Sharmila Rana (gold), Thomas Kloska (silver), Myriam Belmekki (bronze) and Nick Hyunh (bronze). Jamie McNeil and Bryan Chong have qualified for the European Universities Sports Association (EUSA) Champions this August in Italy, an exciting opportunity offered by BSTF in association with EUSA for qualifying WT A-class fighters. For ITF sparring: Angela Sun (silver), Savya Aggarwal (bronze), Wenbo Chen (silver), Claire Tjokroidjaja (silver) and Michael Ogunjimi (bronze) have earned their well-deserved medals.

ICUTKD are proud to say that despite sustaining injuries from competitions, we keep our spirits strong. As a club, we welcome everyone; those who have never kicked, seniors who are looking for a new club, and everyone in between. This was demonstrated from the strong bonds we made this year and many of our competitors and volunteers were new to the club.

Congratulations to all medallists and non-medallists in Taekwondo who competed this year representing Imperial College London.

We express many thanks to our instructors and coaches Master Reza Saberi, Christopher Dancel and Liyan Chow who give endless support throughout the years. It has been a fantastic academic year 2018-19 for ICUTKD: from our summer tour to Singapore, to many evenings at the Student Activity Spaces in preparation for competitions.