How three members of the Wadokai
with the hope of becoming the first ever Sakagami Cup Champions Lisbon
On the day many of Wadokai’s finest were battling it out in Leicester for a place on the England Squad for the European Championships, Wadokai Portugal were hosting the first ever Sakagami Cup Tournament. The cup pits fighters from Wadokai
their counterparts from
in honour of the 8th Dan President of Federation European Wadokai,
Sakagami Sensei. Founder and organiser of the tribute tournament Frederico
Silva said that he hoped this inaugural competition would grow by reputation to
include other European countries who would meet annually to pay tribute to
Sakagami. He added that he wished the tournament to become “as respected as the
Sensei in who’s honour it is held”. England
In it’s infancy the cup is only open to male seniors (although Sensei Silva hopes to have more categories in the future) so this lone female reporter boarded a plane to Lisbon to spend the weekend with three of Wadokai England’s talented and enthusiastic karateka; Leicester Karate Association’s Junaid Mulla, and Shizen-Do Kai’s Keenan Pedley & Jon Lefevre. We were also lucky enough to be joined by Sensei Pedley’s father Ed, who kept us youngsters (!) in-check during our 4 days mini-break.
Our hotel was so new that it squeaked which meant that whilst the accommodation was far superior to the usual hostel/low-cost affair, it was in the middle of an industrial estate on the outskirts of
. This, the out-of-town
sports venue, and the centre of Lisbon
formed a sort of Bermuda Triangle of confusion for our local cabbies who ended
several trips with: Lisbon
“It is here,
somewhere, this road.
Maybe. I think.
You get out here.
After finding our feet in the city and on a high from
England’s 3-2 football win against , we
headed to the venue on Saturday morning confident of giving our Portuguese
opponents a good fight and an excellent display for Sakagami Sensei. With only
two countries competing for the trophy the pressure was on, this was not just
competing for gold or silver but one where our boys would either win or lose. Sweden
Suitably energised, the three men warmed-up ready for their first bout. The competition was designed as a talent round-robin with each of the three fighters facing each of the three from the opposing side. As a spectator I was to be treated to nine exciting matches of 3 minutes each (or the first to 8 points) and with two only people in the audience supporting
Keenan Pedley was first up for
. The competitors were
well-matched physically and for the first minute the two strategically avoided
much confrontation, instead testing out the range and speed of their opponent.
This suddenly all changed with Pedley landing his first point and proceeding to
surgically picked apart his opponents defence, losing only 2 points and landing
6 to win the match. England
Junaid Mulla faced a heavier opponent in his first bout but managed to build up a four point lead before the Portuguese man landed a ferocious mawashi geri to bring the match almost equal. Mulla took time to applaud his opponent before calmly executing three perfect Gyaku zukis in a row to win the match.
Three fights, three wins for the English and what looked like an uncomfortable climb for the hosts. Despite this the crowd was enthusiastic and cheered on their boys. It should be noted that they supported good techniques from both sides and when the English landed a good point the crowd responded with good humour and polite applause.
With five wins in the bag and the Portuguese without a single match win, the cup was firmly in the hands of the English allowing Lefevre and Mulla to try out their techniques and focus less on building up points. John won his match by 2 points and Junaid narrowly lost his, also by 2. Once Keenan had been patched up by the on-site paramedics he ended the competition on a high, sweeping away his opponent’s exhausted legs to win the match and the tournament.
To much flag waving and cheering from us, a delighted
held their trophies aloft as they took their place as the first ever winners of
the Sakagami Cup. England
The significant verdict of eight wins to one was testament to the quality coaching of our
fighters at national and domestic level and to the dedication of Keenan, John
and Junaid. This is not to demean the Portuguese team who showed some excellent
techniques and will certainly be ones to watch in England in November. Venice
We were also impressed by the quality of the competition as a whole and particularly the high standard of decisive impartial refereeing and judging by our Portuguese hosts. We would like to thank Sensei Silva for his hospitality and graciousness and for organising what we hope will become a major event in the Wadokai calendar in years to come where Wadokai
doubt defend their new title. England