There may have been plenty blood, sweat and tears as Tae Kwon Do Edinburgh hosted its annual fight and awards night – but the fighting on show highlighted the quality and enthusiasm of the martial art across the city.
The strong crowd at Portobello Town Hall were exposed to a total of 22 bouts, with students from Tae Kwon Do Edinburgh put to the test against representatives from clubs from Uddingston and Hamilton.
The climax to the evening then pitched three of Edinburgh’s most exciting prospects against international stars from Poland.
James Watson, the head instructor who runs the Colinton and Meadowbank sessions at the Edinburgh club, was delighted at the quality of show put together.
Watson, who runs the club alongside Angus Budge and Luke McGowan, said: “It couldn’t have gone any better ,to be honest. The crowd and atmosphere of the place was just amazing.
“I was overwhelmed and the crowd really got behind every fighter on show so it was a great turnout. I think this has underlined the talent that Edinburgh has and has really put us on the map.
“Some maybe didn’t show their true capabilities but most of them came out strong and won their respective bouts. We put them up against harder opponents because we wanted them to face a challenge. There were some very good fights on show.”
Watson, a two-time world champion himself, had special praise for Colinton’s Dean Reid and Lewis Harrison, and Meadowbank’s Kerry Laird for their individual performances, but also paid tribute to Callum Preston, Scott Hughes and David Hand for registering a 2-1 victory in favour of Edinburgh over their European opponents.
“Callum Preston was fighting his very first international fight at the age of 15 and even though he lost, he was facing a guy in his early twenties. Callum has been a British champion a couple of times running and put up a very good fight, he was there and never gave up and will learn from the experience.
“I think the standard was a lot higher than I was expecting from the Polish team. I remember watching them in Poland when I went over to the last European Championships but they did bring a real challenge to my guys.”
Watson has previously stated his intentions to extend the club’s international relations and welcome further overseas opposition to compete here in Edinburgh, an aspiration that has simply been enhanced by the success generated by the club’s triumph at the weekend.
The club now await their next challenge in April when competitors from Liverpool provide the opposition but Watson revealed he has also been sounded out about the possibility of hosting one of Tae Kwon Do’s more lucrative events.
He said: “We are already in talks to host another international event. It’s a hard process because there is a lot of funding needed to get the other team over and look after them. They loved their time over here and they’ve asked us to come over to Poland for the return leg next year.
“We’ve also just been asked by the TAGB (Tae Kwon Do Association Great Britain) which is Europe’s largest single martial arts organisation to see if we would be able to stage either the British Championships or the World Championships in Edinburgh.
“The problem we have at the moment is there isn’t a venue big enough to hold it. We could host the event through in Glasgow but I would like to see it held in the Capital.”
Polish coach Piotr Bernat was overwhelmed by the support and hospitality he and his team received during their short stay in the Capital. He said: “I’d like to thank everyone for making us feel so welcome. It has been a fantastic experience to come over and fight and we would love to have a return leg in Poland next year.”