Gold, silver and bronze – Aikido team bring ‘em home
Student National Shodokan Aikido Competition
Harvey Hadden Sports Complex
In the biggest student aikido event of the year, eight universities with over 100 students competed at the Harvey Hadden Sports Complex in Nottingham, over a tough two-day event.
Marking a steady improvement on last year, Leeds made it through to the semi-finals in five of the nine events. Medals were won in three of them, earning the team a fantastic fourth overall place.
The LUU team brought home medals in the randori events, in which they had to apply their aikido techniques: sparring against an opponent with a tanto, or imitation knife.
Captain Rachel Johnson won gold in the individual women’s event, placing the LUU team firmly on the map this year.
Leeds also won bronze in the embu events
If this wasn’t enough to show what Leeds’ women had to offer, the team won silver medals in the team randori event after some gruelling sparring with the seven other universities.
Leeds also won bronze in the embu events, during which participants had to demonstrate a series of techniques in response to pre-determined attacks.
Bronze was won by Toshiki Shiomitsu and his partner Mike Smith for their excellent performance of the ‘goshin no kata’: a black belt kata which demonstrates a set of techniques for self-defence against grabs, strangles and strikes.
Meanwhile the Leeds team found itself amongst the semi-finalists for every other black belt kata, being narrowly beaten by overall competition winners, Sheffield.
Another noteworthy performance was that of Alex Matthews, who through a magnificent display of both randori and kata skills, graded to his black belt during the competition.
With champions being made and black belts won, the LUU Shodokan Aikido team looks set to rise to the top in the next few years, but not without yet more intense training from their dedicated instructor, Justin Gallagher.
From left to right (top row first): Stephanie Ward, Daniel Green, Alex Matthews, Bethany Evans, instructor Justin Gallagher, Freddie Lewery, Christopher Beetham, captain Rachel Johnson, Toshiki Shiomitsu and Michael Smith.