European Shinkyokushin 2018 – quick look at the tournament!

The European Championship Shinkyokushinkai 2018 are history, winners are crowned and memories are captured. Poland guided safely all trough the event, and ensured all that the World Championship in Weight Categories will be taken care of – if someone ever doubted! Shin-EC 2018 made a very strong statement adding more categories and not only keeping the level of fighting but even raise it as well. Transition from U-22 into the seniors are well proven, the weighing of champions and merited fighters from all across Europe are well pointed out. – and yes, Dimitrov is back!

A overview of the European tournament gives us a clear an impression that Poland works very good as an host-nation. Not only at tournament day, but being placed in central Europe makes it a naturally center to travel to. This can be one factor in the great support of the tournament. Poland as a nation do play a central roll in organizing great various events, and do also support events around the world with athletes from different levels.

The Championship was held on three fight areas/mats and the tournament run smoothly. As “usually”  the “lead-head” experience appeared, and that is an command challenge in many arenas, that the air quality are hard to keep up.

After the tournament one did get a little of “everybody beats everybody” (and Valeri Dimitrov beats all) feeling. From a regular line up, some of the known names was out, injured or waiting for the The 1st International Fullcontact Karate Championship coming up this weekend. But even so one could thing that it would lower the level, but that did not happen. One could see that many champions was stopped even before they got the possibility to reach the podium. In this comparison, there were many who were surprised by athletes who have relatively recently placed themselves in the top of the World Championship and other EC, not even reaching semifinals.

Top nations this year by medals The overall results show a relatively good spread on several top nations. (fighting and Kata)

This also makes the tournaments very interesting, and not least this motivates the different nations to continue their good work. It is known from experience that if you get a nation that is too dominant it will be an unhealthy balance in the tournament and interest will fall. As we mention earlier “everybody beats everybody” and the level only increases. Sure, there will always by differences in the level between nations, it is more how Women big it is that matter.

Women Under 50 kg

Ukraine did their best championship in many years. With category wins and several athletes on the podium the did really take a big step forward. Photo by

With ⇐ Alona Veresniak topping the -50 kg category for women, many had to think two times since Ukraine had a similar result in the women division. We believe that one have to go back to start/mid 2000, when fighters as Yevgeniya Antonova, Anna Tsybko, Natasha Stetsenko claimed their EC tittle. The other results were probably a little more expected, even though new champions were recognized. Alona Veresniak really sets her punches and kicks, and even so it is the lightest category, the power in her techniques are impressing to watch. And also the ability to raise her intensity makes her hard to fight.

Women Under 55 kg 

Lithuania as expected – Skaistė Venckutė, took the under 55 kg category, and not only that, awarded best fighter as well! Following up her win from U-22 EC last year. Photo by Algimantas Barzdžius visit for more top photos!

In this category several had moved up from the category below, and one of them Sandra Nowak, Poland – 2nd last year, third place 2018. Moving up an category could be hard sometime. Venckutė with her drive manage the win over Nowak after a very demanding fight, pushing forward with strong punches. The other 3rd place Nemeth Veronika, Hungary, she had 2nd place last year, and had to see the end of the road in Anna Bielska, Poland – the U-22 EC champion 2017. Both pretty even on distance, but it could seem that when Bielska moved inn on short distance, attacking with knees and short punches, she was the strongest – or more comfortable.

Women Under 60 kg

Another strong category this was, and the favorites did move on as expected. In to the semifinal Erika Rukšėnaitė, Lithuania vs Marta Lubos, Poland. Lubos moving up from under 55 kg, seemed very strong sharp. Rukšėnaitė, not a “sitting duck” at all, tough fighter, coming right at you – and you better be ready. This semi final was very entertaining, but deeper into it, Lubos connecting better and a hard fight just get harder for Rukšėnaitė – as Lubos taking it in. Other semi, the favorite Inga Mikštaitė, Lithuania advances against Solmaz Zeynalli, Azerbaijan. Zeynalli does a really good impression, an if we are not mistaken, this third place makes her historic! Facing a heavy favorite, taking a good deal of punishment – but still fighting back are in this case the best result she could reach. Do also have a good understanding, and sees the the big knock out attempt from Mikštaitė. And as we know just 6 month ago Mikštaitė secured her KWU world tittle with one of them, knocking down Emma Markwell in the final.

Strong spirit was also showed by Anett Leiter , Hungary, taking on the champion only with one hand more or less, since her right hand was injured. Defending well, but naturally can not do more out of it.  Photo by

This final between Mikštaitė and Lubos made (at least) one thing clear, that the throne in this category are about to change. After a very intense start, giving each other full power in punches and kicks, the picture are opposite from previous fights they have fought (Open weight EC, and the kwu/ec) This time Lubos does not get shaken the same way as before by Mikštaitė. So, after more very good exchanges from both, Mikštaitė receives two clean hits on her right side of the body. From being aggressive and forward, the behavior changes to the opposite. Backing up, and Lubos smells blood. A flurry of techniques from Lubos are sending Mikštaitė back and out of the mat clearly hurt. In the flurry, Lubos get a warning for connecting to the head, no scoring, Mikštaitė gets time to recover. The fight starts after a while, and the intensity are very high! The main picture is that Lubos are handling Mikštaitė well this time, but the decisions are given on warnings. One to Mikštaitė and one more to Lubos. To flags for extension, three flag to Mikštaitė who gets the championship, but little cheer from the crowd. Well, we believe that if the extra round had been given, a natural decision had appeared. Regardless of the results,these two are some of the very best fighters that is.

Women Under 65 kg

Poland with  Monika Zielińska ( Photo by took their title in the under 65 kg category. Monika Zielińska did also get the Best spirit award, and have EC tittle in U-22 and Senior now!

This category was very interesting, and some really strong profiles was in the line up. And with the adding a new category in this level, some came up, and some went to the category above. But the way it turned out, was that the most established athletes were stopped before they “could entered” the podium.Cecilia  Wallin,Sweden. Aneta Meškauskienė, and Gabija Gudeliauskaitė, Lihuania, all three one could see entered the podium – but all as stopped before that! Zielińska and Ivanka Deleva, Burlgaria, stood for the most of that, both showed really good fighting. At third place Gyongyi Seregely, Hungary, with her strongest result up to now(?) Tamar Bibileishvili, Georgia, repeat her result from EC 2016.

Women over 65 kg

Romania took also this year a EC tittle with Andreea Merca, who did move up in aheavier category than last year. In this category, the over 65 kg, the level was very even, and this made the fighters go extensions “all day long” More than one fight was the winner declared with very little margin. Looking at top 8 in this category, it is easy to see, and understand the level, all champions and highly merited fighter from tournaments all over the world. The will to win is a keyword in this category, and we believe this years podium will have the possibility to change all over the next year.

2nd place Brigita Gustaitytė, Lithuania, made her first appearance senior EC vice, followed by last years champion and runner up Sara Hägge, Sweden and Ryžkovaitė Monika, Lithuania. Just outside the podium Agata Winiarska, Poland and Camille Haddouche, France – both had very good and tough fights, and we all know how good they are – it is almost strange to see them outside the podium. Haddouche had a intense fight against reign champion Hägge, and Winiarska met the new European Champion Brigita Gustaitytė in a “final” of it own. One thing for sure, EKO can really be proud over the level of these fighters, and the will continues to grow making each other better.

The final between  Andreea Merca and Brigita Gustaitytė became a hard fight, with the will to will playing a central role. Due to the difference in height, it was sometimes messy which resulted in warnings and breaks. It was mainly blow to the head and pushing that was the was the case. But both fighters had no intention of giving up, and fought harder and harder. Merca, pushing forward attaching constantly, Gustaitytė answering it up, and dangerous with head-kick, connecting more than one time. But it is Merca who gets it in the end with her well known strong drive and spirit. Photo taken by Svein Olaf Bennæs Shinkyokushin Norway

Men under 65 kg

An unbelievable strong category! Andrei Zinchenko, Georgia, back on track after missing the podium last year. We have seen him fight in minus 70 kg category, and been one of the lightest – but one of the strongest! In the -65 kg he is for sure not any weaker! Last years winner Emin Ismayilli , Azerbaijan, did reach the final this year also. Winning against a very good Milad Samizada, Sweden in the semi. Milad had on his side stopped talented Daniel Sternik, Poland, Spéder István, Hungary and Masca Ovidiu, Romania. Ismayilli is a hard nut to crack, and with an injured leg the task was almost impossible.

Ismayilli really strong, very tight, with very strong techniques, safe hard fighting. But this was exactly what he met in the final vs Andrei Zinchenko. The final was fought more or less in close distance, power-punching – non interested to back an inch. In to the extension, an the same pattern as the ordinary round, but the intensity raises. The fight are getting wilder, and through this sequence Ismayilli connects two times with head punches, and Andrei Zinchenko can collect his second EC tittle.

Men Under 75 kg

The category with most fighters – 28 in the line up. Not since 2001 with Sergey Voytenko have Ukraine taken the EC tittle for seniors men. Oleksandr Svynarenko, Ukraine changed this by winning the largest category – impressing! -but the “warning” came last summer taking the 3rd place in the World Championship in weight categories. This category had many very good fighters, and to be honest, top eight here were relevant to the podium.

Looking at the podium, Ukraine, Romania, Lithuania and Hungary (in that order) was the top spots. With this results, Oleksandr Svynarenko and Ukraine on top, we are back to how this just raises the interest. If we can predict almost every result, we loose interest. Back in the tournament, we saw that the fight towards the top was very very demanding. And the semifinals was really all that one can wish for. Svynarenko showed strength putting the pressure on his opponents with strong punches to the body. This also earned him points in several fight, and victories. And he even made this happen in the final against a technical George Suciu, Romania.

Suciu had a very hard fight in the semi against Gintas Gervelis, Lithuania. This fight was hard and even, until Suciu really “rag-doll” punched Gervelis with high punches. But it took a while, because Gervelis made a very strong first 30 second, an Suciu had to work really hard to get back in the fight.The final as mention became a short fight, Svynarenko earning the victory after a strong start. This was the same recipe from the semi, against Zalán Karczub, Hungary. The results ment that Suciu was the only one from last year podium.

Men Under 85 kg

World Champions, European Champions – this category had them all…and this categoryhad Valeri Dimitrov, Bulgaria. The result are no secret, and once again Dimitrov takes the EC tittle. The final was a highly interesting set up. Salahat Hasanov Azerbaijan – reign World Champion in weight categories summer 2017. Both was naturally in the final.

The semi for Salahat was a good fight vs Ihor Kotliarevskyi, Ukraine. Stronger and out pacing his opponent Salahat was ready for the final. Also worth mention was the fight with Salahat vs Tamas Popovics, Hungary, this was a insane hard fight, and with a pace that one could almost not believe.  Video

In the other semi, Dimitrov vs Jakub Tecza , Poland. The Polish fighter did his things – but the same did Dimitrov, and that resulted in victory for Dimitrov after “eating” the leg of his opponent with heel-kicks. Many was shocked by Dimitrov`s speed, and in the final one could see the three classic stages went through Salahat. The start was good for Salahat, strong combinations with punches and inside low-kicks. Dimitrov with punches and heel-kicks. Dimitrov`s timing is superb, and one can see the attacks of Salahat are slowing down – the damage are eating its way through his leg. But Salahat is a World Champion and he shows it by really lifting himself trough the pain, and raises the pace to meet Dimitrov`s attack. But Dimitrov continues to hit, and Salahat even drops his arm down when the kicks are coming in against his leg.

After ordinary time 4-1 to Dimitrov, who looks that he was ready for one more round. Salahat seems broken by the results. We do believe that it could be a extra round, but had it changed the result? Hardly. The best thing with the whole setting is to see Valeri Dimitrov whit out any injuries fighting. Valeri Dimitrov – the best fighter in the World, no one can compete with his results and record. And for Salahat – he fights as we “speak” in Japan right now!  Photo by

Men Under 95 kg

Home-fighter and reign Champion Maciej Mazur, Poland, was in a own class. no one could threaten him this time and he won as he would. Technically as well as physically, he is in a class for himself. Controls his fights with the greatest calm, and works strategically and purposefully. It will be the final that becomes the highlight, a short one to say that way, as he  finish it with a clean head-kick! Earning the best Fighter award as well. The runner up, Juras Sokolovas Lithuania, takes his first EC medal, even so that he get knocked out fast in the final, he will be one to see more of in the future. Out powering and out pacing Adam David, Hungary, in the semifinal ans seems clearly the right man for the final. Photo by

Image may contain: 2 people

Men Over 95 kg

We spoke about knock out in the final, and that it was this category will be remembered for! A brutal knockout from Eventas Gužauskas, Lithuania, as he sends the veteran Brian Jakobsen, Denmark, down and out with a really clever “death roll” Rolling the “opposite way” he hits the Dane with full power, and hits him totally unexpected. Gužauskas had shown very good fighting, winner against a really good Anatolii Zhuravel, Ukraine, in the semifinal. Zhuravel on his side had a very strong tournament, earning a quick victory in his first fight, and really messing up the veteran Margarint Dorin , Romania in his next fight, Dorin`s experience and skills makes him trough without giving away any point.

Jakobsen came to the final getting a good win against Lithuanian power-fighter Antanas Klibavičius, and a tactical win in the next vs Andras David, Hungary. Second place for the Dane, two years a row, as Gužauskas notes his first first EC tittle.

Taking the EC in a total view, there is no doubt that the level is sky high. And it is getting more and more interesting every year. As one could see, new young fighters are coming up – and they are very well prepared. And as mention by many, the podium have many nations/fighters and variations that keeps this exciting. If you see for an example the same nation taking more or less every place at the podium every year, (of course not if it is a national open tournament) the balance gets a negative turn, it becomes predictable – far more than just a couple of factors and many will lose their interest. This is nothing new – this is most of the how sport turns out. The level will continue to increase, and one can see that this strong competition lifts up the fighters. And not to forget, the way the Shinkyokushin works together, having fight and Kata seminars across the borders of nations. And this is hard working camps, not “selfie-camps” with the main focus on promoting. Danish Fightcamp , Spring Camp in Hungary and Romanian Kumite camp are excellent examples on how the level will increase with right focus.