The America’s Cup and America’s Future International Kuoshu Championship tournament was held in Rio De Janiero, Brazil on February 22nd and 23rd. The event was hosted by Grandmaster Li Wing Kay, Pan American President of the TWKSF, and Sifu Serpio Silva. It brought together teams from all around Brazil as well as Paraguay, Argentina and the USA. The two day event had forms, weapons, two person sets, lei tai light and lei tai full contact events. The USA team was comprised of primarily East West students as well as a couple members of the US Kuoshu Academy in Owings Mills, Maryland. Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang, Chairman of the TWKSF and President of the USKSF, attended the tournament as well.
The tournament was held at a local community college in Rio. Day one started later in the afternoon on Saturday and began with the youth divisions. Mr. Fitzsimmons jumped right into action competing with his open hand form, long weapon and short weapon and took two first places and a second. He then jumped right into lei tai light contact sparring. He had a couple great matches and took 2nd place overall. Mr. Fitzsimmons made some new friends from South America and ended up trading shirts with one of the boys that he fought. At just 13 years old, the tournament was an invaluable experience that he’ll remember for years to come!
Opening ceremonies began at 7:00 pm with an introduction of all of the teams. Mr. Lee, Ms. Berch and Ms. Baker walked in for the United States team. Many dignitaries were at the head table including the Chairman of the World Kuoshu Federation, Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang. Master Buckley gave a welcoming speech on behalf of our teacher, Grandmaster Lee, who is the President of the TWKSF. After the presentations of the countries, lion dances and demonstrations, the opening ceremonies were complete and we moved into lei tai fighting and adult forms competition. Master Buckley led the USA Team as team leader and coach and Ms. Newman assisted as coach of the team. Ms. Newman and Mr. McKay both served as Executive Referees on the lei tai during the two day tournament.
It was a very efficient and well run event, and competition resumed right away after opening ceremonies. Ms. Baker had the only USA fight on day one. She put on a great performance and finished the fight in two rounds against her opponent from Paraguay. The rest of the team were busy competing in forms and weapons divisions. It was an active and exciting first day of competition for the USA Team!
Day two began early in the morning with both lei tai fights as well as the conclusion of forms, weapons and two person sets. Our team was running back and forth competing in forms as well as lei tai. Ms. Baker started off the lei tai with another strong showing in her finals fight against Brazil and took first place in her division. Ms. Berch also had a fantastic fight against an opponent from Brazil and easily controlled the match, giving her a first place finish. Mr. Lee fought against a tough opponent from Brazil and took second place in his division. While living in Wisconsin, Mr. Lee came home to train with the team a handful of times, and then met us in Brazil to compete. It was an impressive feat and definitely will add an invaluable experience as we prepare for the World Tournament in Argentina in 2015.
In the forms categories, our team did exceptionally well. Mr. Lee took 1st place in open hand, 1st place in short weapon, 2nd place in weapon two person set, as well as 3rd place in long weapon and open hand two person set. Ms. Baker took 1st place in open hand two person set, weapon two person set, short weapon, and open hand form, as well as 2nd in long weapon. Ms. Berch placed 1st in long weapon, two person open hand, two person weapon, as well as 3rd place in open hand form and short weapon. Mrs. Fitzsimons placed 1st in Senior short weapon as well as 2nd in Senior Open Hand form. Mr. Stamm competed as well and took 2nd place in open hand form, short weapon, and long weapon. Mr. Fitzsimmons placed 1st in youth open hand form and long weapon, 2nd in youth short weapon and adult open hand two person set, 3rd in adult weapon two person set as well as Teen Lei Tai Light. Finally, Mrs. Topacio-Call traveled with our team again and placed 1st in both her divisions with her open hand form as well as long weapon.
With the exceptional performances from our 9 competitors, our USA team took 1st place overall at the tournament. It was an incredible accomplishment! Ms. Baker also received the award for best overall athlete at the America’s Cup. 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 an International 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. We are looking forward to future International tournaments in preparation for the 5th TWKSF World Championships that will be held in Argentina in September of 2015.
Following the tournament, our team from East West had a few days of relaxation and took in the sights in Rio!
Here are a few of our favorite pictures from the trip, but you can find our entire photo gallery from the America’s Cup HERE!