Many TaeKwon-Do groups /organizations in the U.K. like to use the tag of ‘open’, yet how many can actually say they operate real open events like the L.T.S.I. If you open the doors to your championships, sell it as open and run it with all your own officials on the rings, it’s not really open, is it? If you enforce your set of rules, it’s not really open, is it? That was the story before the U.K. group the L.T.S.I. rewrote the script and turned the TaeKwonDo world on its’ head in 2004.
When you enter the L.T.S.I. Opens, you find a new way forward – rules that are geared towards making open championships fair across the board, five independent umpires from different groups, matted full sized rings, fully insured and awards that many say just simply ooze quality.
On 27th March, the L.T.S.I. headed by Master Snow, 7th Degree, hosted the 18th South East TaeKwonDo Opens and, according to the response by the many attendees after the event on their Facebook page, it was another cracking event.
Okay, it was hosted on Mother’s Day. It was also hosted on the same day as other top events, yet it still stood tall amongst the rest.
Numbers were lower than usual, with 278 attending. The day started well, as the 12’s and under lined up to do business at 8.30am. Master Snow gave a very passionate speech about the last two years that we have all gone through and those we have unfortunately lost due to Covid. As the kids sat quietly listening, he welcomed the L.T.S.I. mascot Leo the LTSI Lion. There were many smiling faces all around! Leo done his rounds, putting the kids fears to bed, then it was time for the action to start.
At 9am, rings were set by Mr. Smith, 6th Degree, who is the tournament supervisor. Officials were ready to judge the attendees. Youngsters were called up onto the rings in twos to demonstrate their amazing talents. Whether the suit was ITF, plain white or even black, all practitioners fought with heart and soul giving their best and congratulating each other, regardless of the result. Parents were overjoyed, shouting from the bleachers as their children gave their best. Seeing their kids winning and put on the podiums to get their awards, smiles and hand shaking after, regardless of affiliation, showed true sportsmanship in sport TaeKwonDo.
The trend was set at this point and this continued across the day. From the 13’s plus colour belts to the Black Belts in the afternoon, standards were higher than high. Many Black Belts hugged across the day, having had 24 months of not seeing each other and saying “I don’t really care about the win, I care about being here with my TaeKwonDo family”. It really was amazing to see as a non- practitioner. The group of Instructors from XS TKD said “As we walked into the arena, the emotions hit us. It’s so good to be back here with everyone”.
Umpires from all different groups worked together on the rings, proving that the badge and affiliation means nothing at our opens, when all are working for the common goal of quality TaeKwonDo championships which are fairer than fair.
New groups in attendance congratulated Master Snow for the amount of effort put in by him and his team. Chris is the brains behind the operations, organising things from the ground up – those that know him know he pushes hard! No one puts in as much work as he does. In fact, if you attend the L.T.S.I. events, you will see him working hard – from picking up rubbish, giving out water to umpires to keeping the event running smoothly, he never stops. His passion can be seen, as his love for the art is unmatched by most.
Top schools were in competition to win the area title. At one point, Chris’ St. Albans TaeKwonDo school was heads above the other 38 schools in attendance but, by 2pm, things start changing as Rayners Lane, Worcestershire, XS and Proaction started to stamp their authority. We witnessed some amazing bouts across the day both in sparring and patterns. DE Photo took over 5000 images, with 700 of the best shots now on our Facebook page, along with two cracking videos.
The L.T.S.I. always sets a high standard and have offered all schools the chance to win the area title at the South East Opens and their English Opens. In the beginning, it was just fun – now it’s a real game changer. 15 selected fighters get the chance to fight for the title, but must be from the same school. Many have tried to cheat over the years by picking their best fighters from their association but, at the end of the day, only top schools have actually won the title proving cheats don’t prosper.
At the end of the 18th South East Opens, five schools stood at the top of the table – Rayners Lane took the title with 53 points, Worcestershire had 43, XS TKD 36 points and St. Albans L.T.S.I. and Proaction both had 29 points.
On behalf of the L.T.S.I. organising team, we would like to thank all competitors, their amazing Instructors and the parents and guardians who bought their family members to our event. We send a special mention to the many schools that provided officials on the day. These events are hard especially with a perfectionist like Chris as the head, but that being said, he is a guy that says “Let’s get on and do it this way” and he won’t stop working until the job is done. I believe this is why his students support him so actively and many across the U.K. love his events.
The L.T.S.I. are now gearing up for the Black Belt opens on 5th June, which is open to all associations. You can get details on any of their events at www.ltsi-tournaments.co.uk. Take the plunge and try one event and we are sure you will be blown away by attending a real opens.