3rd KWU World Championship – Women categories

The 3rd KWU World Championship are history, we will first take a look at the women`s divisions. One of the most impressing things must be how the little country Lithuania can produce so many, and so high level professional fighters. Other thoughts is in the opposite direction,  with this professional level from Russia, Lithuania – is so that we are going in a direction so professional that it will exclude the regular participant?

It`s time to be professional?

The organizing was very good, all at a top professional level!  One thing that was a really a lift was the late “draw” We have been tired to see line ups with “no show” at  fight day. And a another part of it, it is more effective to clean up thing like this before fight dag. (this is a a great point for organizers all over the world to pick up) Of course one would like to use the highest number of nations and fighters to look good on the paper, but people see right through that. But now almost every fight came as it should, according to the draw – thumps up!

Taking the numbers brought up in front it was expected about 300 participants. The tournament did get about about 260 participants (according to the official registration) and unfortunately some nations/participants dropped out. But in the women`s division it was few changes. 71 fighters fighting for the world champion title in 6 divisions..and countless strong fighters from all over. No doubt that this was going to blow the roof sky high!

The favorites moved on in the tournament, but there where also many hard fights for some on an early stage. Many tough that the “draw system” would make it fair, and put the “right fighter at the right spot”. The system puts exactly them the organizer want to be favorite, here, there and everywhere. And on can image how this challenge could be like, when you have a line up as strong as this one!

Women under 50 kg, category was added this time and had 9 fighters. Maybe the biggest surprise was non Russian fighter at the podium (that happened only in this and in the men -90 category) The Russian favorite vice world champion IFK Rimma Artemova, lost to Daiva Krisciuniene Lithuania-WKO) This was a big win for Krisciuniene. She lost to the main favorite Rengokai World & European Champion,Teona Gazdelina (Spain – Rengokai) Gazdelina won the tournament, and gets the victory over Honami Ito (Japan – Shieijuku). The fight did not make the audience go crazy, as the fight was fought in the same pattern more or less. Close distance, short punches and some low-kicks. The most impressive to watch, is how much power they can generate, in fact that their belong to the lightest category.

Women under 55 kg. In this category we saw a nice line up, and maybe this went a little in a different direction than the most of us believed.  Anna Izdebska (Ukranie) met Diana Mačiūtė (Lithuania – WKO) in the final, and it was the veteran Mačiūtė who took the tittle, knocking out Izdebska to the body. On their way to the final, both had stopped strong favorites who was aiming for top spots. Izdebska stopping Aleksandra Leśniewska (Poland) that many saw in the top three, Mačiūtė stopped Iya Kostova (Bulgaria -Kan) One of the biggest favorite was Erika Sato (KWF – Japan), she went out in her first fight against Kostova. Diana Mačiūtė was awarded Best Technique in the tournament. 

The under 60 kg category women had several fighters that was high on the ranking. Inga Mikštaitė, (Lithuania – WKO)  takes this category, but nothing was set before the final was over. Opening fight was a clear win against IKO1 EC Champion Agnieszka Winek (WKB-Poland), next fight vs Anett Leiter (Hungary-WKO) before Alina Polishchuk (Russia-WKO), Polishchuk top 8 at IFK World Championship in May, winner of Európa Open Szolnok Cup, Hungary 2017. Two very strong fighters followed each other, and after one red,one white and three flags draw –  extension was a fact. But Polishchuk could not keep up the pace, and the power punching cost too much, Mikštaitė takes it 4-1. In the other end, top elite fighter Emma Markwell (GB-IFK) vs Valence Bickel (KWF-Nederlands) As expected, this became a replay from British Open, Markwell advances and shows hers eminent level – Bicker is the reign EC KWF Champion! Next is Satsuki Kodama (Japan-Bushinkai) On the paper as well as on the mat, this is Markwell`s fight. Kodama tries to keep the pressure on, Markwell backs up and uses her reach advantage. Next one against Yekaterina Gurova (WKO-Kazakhstan) Gorokova surprises with strong and aggressive fighting, but the favorite Markwell advances, being clearly the strongest one. The final between Markwell and Mikštaitė is a dream final, both very merited and experienced. Mikštaitė raises her intensity from the first day. Mikštaitė stronger base from the first contact, drives forward with strikes and hits Markwell with a right high kick that connects – more punches before she execute a roll-kick that sends Markwell down. Wazari given, and the fight goes on. Marwell trying to even out with some good attempts, but Mikštaitė maintain control and neutralizes this. This is the third loss in the KWU WC ,but note three finals..! -that`s a very strong accomplishment!  Mikštaitė got her world tittle, and that in a convincing way. That said, we would like to see them fight again – the result might change.

The under 65 kg category women had 16 fighters in the line up, and was looking quite interesting, but just up to a certain point. Anzhelika Sabaeva (IFK – Russia) was looking for her third tittle, and it was few, if non who believed that she could not make it. And she did as expected, but she did get some good resistance in the final against Gabija Gudeliauskaitė (WKO – Lithuania) Sabaeva have the pace and stamina to secure the third tittle, Gudeliauskaitė are close with some surprising kicks but not close enough to make some difference. Camille Haddouche (WKO – France) takes a notable third, and capture the only medal to France this time, shearing the third with Meskauskine (IFK – Ireland) that once again enters the podium, and shows her stability a top fighter.

The minus 70 kg category women became highly interesting when the line up was ready. The top four held a very high level, and  Agata Winiarski (WKO-Poland), Julie Lamarre (Canada) Lilla Herczeg (Matsushima – Hungary) and Svetlana Tuchkova (Russia – IFK) ALL are World Champions. Taken in consideration that some are more recently World Champs than others, and could be more at their peak – it is remarkably that top four are all World Champions. Lamarre beat Tuchkova in the semi, her push-kicks and stiff punching style did not let Tuchkova in on her favorite distance. Winiarski beat Herczeg in the other semi, that was a far more technical clean fight. In the final it was again battle of the styles, Lamarre using push-kicks a playing defense, Winiarski  waiting out the counter attacks at pushes forward. More and more Winiarski gets her style into the fight, and uses good side movements together with punching. Winiarski  takes her second world tittle this year, and doing so not actually on home soil, that makes it even bigger. And maybe a little strange (but positive) way this turned out. Fail to qualify in the WKO world cup loosing to Monika Ryzkovaite, that gave an opening for IFK world championship – and a title! And just for the record: now it is 1-1 Monika Ryzkovaite – Agata Winiarski.

Women over 70 kg had nine fighters, and that would give one fast access to the podium. A great surprise with the top spot was Maria Papadopoulou (IFK-Greece) for those of us who have seen her in British (as an example) lost on weight, when she dominated her opponent and deserved the win. But we must not forget that she won the U-21 World Championship in 2015, so it is not complete out of the blue. In the final Papadopoulou meet Alexandra Karpuk (KWF – Poland) Karpuk EC KWF champion and more do not impress the way one could think, regarding to her good record. She barely makes it through the first fight, and gets a favorite win against Chiliza Fundiswa (Malawi) 3-2 after the first extension, and maybe it is a clue when the spirit award goes to Chiliza Fundiswa. Papadopoulou on her side, shows aggressive fighting and are really working her opponents body and legs. Karpuks back at the track again advance, meeting Mbonambi Thandeka from South Africa is a big difference fro the parallel fight. Diana Balsyte (Lithuania – WKO) vs Azhar Zhaxybayeva (Kazakhstan – WKO)  Two strong fighters and the winner would be marked. Both had the capacity to reach the final, and in the final was the winner of Papadopoulou vs Mariya Panova (IFK – Russia) Once again Papadopoulou impresses and collect the victory over Panova in a hard fight. This of course was a key win. Balsyte manage to advance in a even fight before she collect a point with a knee to the head in the extra round. Balsyte vs Karpuk, to decide who will fight Papadopoulou in the final. Karpuk do come more to live in this fight, and gets her inside low-kicks going. Balsyte answer this with strikes and dangerous knees. Karpuk tries to steal the fight with a high pace last 20 seconds, but Balsyte turn this around immediately and drives Karpuk back and out of the mat. Spit decision, and into a extra round. Karpuk gets some good low-kick going before Balsyte even this out, and from that point the round becomes more like a replay of the first one.. Karpuk get the split decision. In the final, Papadopoulou keeps it coming, and after a little feel out, she takes control and drives Karpuk around and back most of the fight. This gives 5-0 after first round victory to Papadopoulou. Both fighters are young and up and coming, and this will be someone that will be noticed more than this time!

When we take a look at all the fighters with all kinds of merits, we realize that there is not possible to rank the fighters anymore. Not at the regular way that we are used to. To compare WC or a EC tittle can be a huge difference. One EC title can be miles away from a another EC title. What about the -70 kg category, top four are all world champions before this tournament..!

But our biggest concern is how the “professional wrapping” will affect the total picture. There will (are) be bigger challenges than we are dealing with at the time, when the professionalism raises. One key word: money. The scary parallel is to look toward professional sports today. On the other side, we must take the chance to develop our Kyokushin karate!

We can only congratulate all the fighters attending!