The 5th TWKSF World Kuo Shu Championship Tournament was held in Mendoza, Argentina on September 26th and 27th, 2015. It brought together teams from around the world for the two day event in categories including forms, weapons, two person sets, light contact and lei tai full contact fighting. The event was held at sports complex in Mendoza and was divided into two separate tournaments. There was an official competition based on team rankings where competitors had to qualify with a first or second place finish at the Nationals within their respective country. The other event was open to all competitors and brought together martial artists from around the world.
The USA team was comprised of IBFDA students, as well as many other team members from across the country. Master Buckley was the head coach of the US National team for the 5th time (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015) and Ms. Newman returned as the US women’s coach for the second time (2012, 2015). Mrs. Buckley, Mr. McKay, Ms. Piacente, Dr. Panella, Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Cusack, Mr. Gray and Ms. Mannion all served in the capacity of International Referees for the TWKSF. Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Cusack and Mr. Gray attended International Referee Training the week prior to the tournament and earned their International Referee A ranking.
Our additional tournament competitor team consisted of Mrs. Fitzsimmons, Mrs. Ogata, Mr. Ong, Ms. Camozzi, Mr. Carlton, Ms. Duong, Mr. Baker, Mr. Greenwood, Ms. Topacio-Call, Mr. Fitzsimmons, Ms. Fitzsimmons and Mr. Call.
On Friday the team was preparing for the tournament by getting weighed in for their events the next day. During the allotted time for the US team to weigh in, Master Buckley found out that two of the team members that were supposed to fight the next day were not going to make it to Argentina due to circumstances at home. Master Buckley had continued to train Mr. Hodge and Mr. Stamm since nationals and knew they were more than ready to fill the open spots. With less than 24 hours to go, Mr. Hodge and Mr. Stamm were now on the US team!
Opening ceremonies began at 9:00 pm on Friday night with an introduction of all of the teams. Mr. Ong and Ms. Camozzi represented the United States team by carrying the flag during the parade of countries.
Day one started Saturday morning and began with some of the forms divisions where our team performed exceptionally well. Later in the afternoon the Lei Tai matches started up with Mr. Stamm leading us off during match number 2. Ms. Dominguez, Ms. Liu, Ms. Baker, Mr. Lee and Mr. Hodge all had matches during that day as well and all won their first fights. Ms. Liu’s fight was not without interruptions but as one of Master Buckleys students, she was prepared to handle anything. Said Ms. Liu about her fight “Master Buckley told us that we needed to be prepared for anything to happen, and that even if the lei tai opened up and we found ourselves in free fall, he expected us to remain poised and ready. During the second round of my first fight, there was an unexpected “intermission” to repair the lei tai because a hole had opened up in the middle. I had to laugh in that moment because Master Buckley had already prepared me perfectly for this scenario, and it really reaffirmed that we had trained under the best coach and teacher in the world – one that knew so much that he could tell us what was going to happen before it happened.”
By the end of the first day Mr. Lee had won a tough second fight to become a two-time world champion. Ms. Liu easily dominated her second fight to earn her second world championship. Ms. Baker also was the winner of her next fight to become a three-time world champion. It was a very active and exciting first day of competition with three world champions already for the USA Team!
Day two began early in the morning with both lei tai fights as well as resuming of forms, weapons and two person sets. Our team was running back and forth competing in forms as well as lei tai. Ms. Dominguez started off the lei tai with the first match of the day. Ms. Dominguez had another characteristically strong showing in her finals fight and took first place in her division to become a 5-time world champion. Ms. Lay was up next in her first fight on the world stage. She executed when the time came and fought her way to her first world championship. Last up for East West was Mr. Hodge who, with less than a days notice he would even be fighting, earned his second world champion title after a strong second fight. Incredibly, East West came into the tournament with 5 USA team members and ended the event with 6 World Champions!
In the forms categories, our team did exceptionally well. For the official United States team, we took home 9 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronze medals. All other competitors from East West collected an incredible 30 first place, 20 second place, and 20 third place finishes. The entire team was definitely aided by having such a big and enthusiastic team with us. Not only could cheers be heard every time someone from the US was up but you could definitely feel the spirit pulling for each and every person.
With the exceptional performances from our IBFDA team, the USA team took 1st place overall at the tournament. Mr. Lee also received the award for best overall male athlete of the tournament. We are all very proud of our team from East West. It is a privilege and an honor to be able to travel around the world to compete in a World Tournament to represent not only our teachers and system, but also the USA. It takes dedication and commitment from the athletes and coaches and we would like to congratulate everyone that took part in this event.
Congratulations to the entire USA Team for their incredible performances. Thank you to Grandmaster Huang, Grandmaster Lee and the TWKSF for making this all possible. And a special thank you to all of our USA Team supporters. Without your contributions, this trip and the amazing memories we made would not have been possible. We are already looking forward to the 6th TWKSF World Tournament that will be held in 2018 in a location to be determined.
Here is a brief slideshow (thanks to Ms. Duong) with some photos from the event.