EC Shinkyokushin 2019 – write up

12-13. April 2019, Lithuania, Vilnius – European Championship Shinkyokushin was organized. The women division divided into five categories contained some of the best fighters in the game – not only in Europe but also world wide.But the remarkable factor was how incredible well prepared young fighters was. Not only coming into the senior tournament “to see whats up”  but challenging the top as well.This was seen several times, physically as well as technically. There are no doubt that the new generation of fighters are pushing the action – but never underestimate good practice and experience.

The level, and many of the fights trough this EC was so close and even, that we do believe the results easily could had been different. In other words, marginal differences. When one sees this from a judge’s decision, when a judge must make a decision -and still there are no difference between the fighters, one can get unpopular victories / losses. -or perhaps some incomprehensible decisions, is more right to put it.

The results in total seems not so surprising, and the five categories are won by three countries that one expect to be there, more or less. Two categories to Poland, one to Bulgaria and two categories won by the host Lithuania. Many tough that Lithuania with three fighters in each category would be more dominant, and yes that is not a strange tough. Nevertheless other nations clearly also have a very high level!

Starting off in the -50 kg category.

Erika Žeburtovič / Lithuania and Alona Veresniak / Ukraine became the two finalists – both at the podium last year as well. After two times ending 3rd, it finally became a success for the home fighter. Both taking their semi finals in ordinary round, Alona Veresniak vs a strong Maria Adria / Spain and Erika Žeburtovič winning against Raminta Makackaitė / Lithuania, willing it more. All top four have nice,strong technics with a good drive into it, combined with high pace (that will be expected in lighter categories)

The final, was unfortunately settled on warnings. A “Genten” counting warning, made the reign champion loose this final, also this in the ordinary round. For some this was a “how you see it” situations, where some think that the act are being provoked too happen, others see it other way around. We think that these two fighters are very good, and if the final could continued it would be hard to say which way the tittle had gone. Both proving that they belong to the top level in the EC, taking top positions more than one time.

In the under 55 kg category we see the favorite Anna Bielska / Poland climb to the top – once again. Being reign champion – and this time shows why. Naturally she has top qualities – when she is a champion, but we see something extra in the ability to act right in the different situations. She is also going the longest way, no walk overs trough the championship. Taking the final vs Anastasiia Pokotylo / Ukraine. Bielska have very good kicking abilities, and also a reach advantage in many fights. This is a challenge for anyone, but as mention she act very smart in situations where her opponents puts on high pressure. Not stressing it up or going into “hummingbird style” Pokotylo shows that she is strong, and coming in with a low base, good kicks and punches that bring her to the final. But vs Bielska it seems that she is a number too small. Bielska mixing it up, and always in control wide repertoire.

On the way to the final Pokotylo fight Agata Kozubowska / Poland in the semi. Takes it with 3 flag after ordinary time. Pokotylo are aggressive all the way, but also taking some leaning in with punches. And it is close several times that she are being cough to the head with knees and kicks – actually more than one kick connect to the head, but a small difference makes it to good attempt – and not a Wazari. Kozubowska needs one centimeter or two into the target, Pokotylo get paid for her tough forward style, being the reign U-21 champion to remember.

In the other semi Kata Rita Dezso / Hungary faces Bielska, and a hard challenge for the young Hungarian. Dezso are doing a good fight against a champion. Bielska really mix it up, and kicks are flying inn from all angles. With this high technical pressure, Dezso must keep a defective focus, and as often less attacks. This will maybe feel bad for a fighter being “choked down” but it is a matter of facing a very good opponent – not being bad in what you do. Dezso coming with a victory against Uxue Lopez de alda / Spain. Bielska have before this fight taken on Ekaterina Yushkevich / Belarus and Denitsa Georgieva / Bulgaria.

Under 60 kg had some very interesting newcomers, and this is why it was mention in the top text. Hungary with Lili Bán and Lili Mezo was of great interest. And they did not disappoint. Both taking 3rd place, and showing great skills. One of the favorites Marta Lubos / Poland unfortunately could not attend this year, but was replaced by Sandra Nowak, taking the place at short notice and gave it all. Up to the semi finals, the favorites advanced without being challenged. Third place holder from last year, Solmaz Zeynalli Azerbaijan takes it in the semi vs Lili Bán. Both quit similar in their style, but in the extension Zeynalli makes a difference – getting a hold of her opponents inside leg, and raises the pace into victory.

In the other semifinal Mezo vs Inga Mikštaitė / Lihuania. This became the “final” of the category. Mezo really putting on a show, and without doubt challenging the reign champion in all ways. Mikštaitė can not take Mezo out, it quickly becomes clear. Mezo is stronger, and reads well what is happening. Mikštaitė have to rely on her routine, and make the time work in her favor. Mikštaitė raises the pace, working from side to side, Mezo awaits and execute a perfect jumping back kick to the head of Mikštaitė. Both fall down, both raises up again – no points given. At this point Mikštaitė have pure luck not being knock out cold. The way the kick was set up made Mikštaitė walk straight into it.  Extension is a fact, and Mikštaitė was now going for higher pace and moving side to side – and so went the round. Mezo did not follow this, and Mikštaitė to the final.

The final became an anticlimax compared to the semi. Mikštaitė went for the same style of tactics in this fight as she finished the last round in the semi. Unfortunately Zeynalli can not keep up with this, and the final goes without further changes. Undoubtedly very good Inga Mikštaitė, one of the best in the business – but the others are closing in.

In the under 65 kg category some really strong profiles. Could reign Open weight champion Ivanka Deleva / Bulgaria contain her drive from last time? As you know, she can. Taking the final vs Magdalena Gustaitytė / Lithuania. Several very long demanding fights.

One of them the semi final between Patricia Farcaş / Romania vs Magdalena Gustaitytė / Lithuania. Farcaş showing strength in the quarter final, eliminated last years 3rd place holder Gyongyi Seregely / Hungary. Gustaitytė eliminated Monika Zielińska / Poland the reign EC champion. Gustaitytė vs Farcaş becomes a long hard fight, and not before the 2nd extension did we get a winner. Up to that point the was dead even, just the last part of the fight Gustaitytė manage to put some more pressure on Farcaş. Lithuania to the final 3rd place for Farcaş – strong achievement, and comparing to last year this is in the right direction.

In the other semi we had a rematch from last year, Aneta Meskauskiene / Lithuania vs Ivanka Deleva / Bulgaria. last year Deleva eliminated Meskauskiene in the quarter final, this year it happened in the semi. Deleva’s drive are as known incredibly strong – and in high pace. This comes to show this fight as well. Two extensions and Deleva takes it 5-0, being the one with the best moves, angling, adding front-kicks and a very strong finish. Meskauskiene constant working forward, putting on the pressure showing good spirit.

In the final between Gustaitytė and Deleva comes at each other strong from the start, exchanging technics. It reminds a little about what we saw in the semi, at it stays that way during the ordinary round. Into the extension Deleva show everyone who is the champion. Turning the heat up, and powering her way into her European Championship tittle. Very impressing the way Deleva goes trough the tournament, defeat one by one opponent in her hard working style.

Over 65 kg showed an impressing line up, and in this category it was hard to predict the top 4. Into the semi final with Csenge Tóth / Hungary vs last year runner up Brigita Gustaitytė /Lithuania. She is also one of the most active fighters we see, enters many tournaments.  Tóth impresses everyone, and of course one do see the eminent work of coach Edit Abraham in her style. very clean, good technics from a strong base, combined with good movements. But Gustaitytė do also have a very strong base, size and ability to take a god deal of punishment without slowing down. 3+2+2 becomes a fact, and in the end Gustaitytė gets it, but this one is such a close fight that both wins, Gustaitytė advances. The best part is how both manage to keep it so clean in possible can be – no “hummingbird-style”.

The other semifinal with Agata Winiarska / Poland and Camille Haddouche / France. These two fighters have shown that they belong to the top – the question was how high. Both eliminated EC merited fighters in their way, Nora Vaznelytė / Lithuania and Diana Balsytė / Lithuania. In this semi we also get a 3+2+2, and like the other semi – this could be a final as well. These two fighters do also have very strong good technics, and especially the kicks looks very strong. The fight almost get a decision after the first extra round when to judges votes for Haddouche. After next round the flags have changed side, two for Winiarska, to for extension… main judge makes the call and Agata Winiarska to the final.

The final – how could the fighters get ready after so hard semifinals? Very impressing how strong the top fighters are. Punching hard, and going hard to the legs of their opponent -Winiarska with the heel kick, Gustaitytė with heavy lowkicks. Once again it is almost done after first extension – two flags to Gustaitytė. After giving it all then some – the flags has changed side – two for Winiarska, main judge makes the difference – Agata Winiarska European Champion! Extremely strong to keep going, turns the flag in her favor, we talk about a strong mental capacity, and a signal: don’t stop believing!

We witness a very high level of fighting trough the tournament, and now it is possible to draw some lines between the level around different organizations and other tournaments. No doubt that these medals that was taken have the top quality – no European medals given away without a win or advancing further in the tournament. This is how the quality of the medals and the championship are being kept. And this is important if one want to continue to develop, and if we want to see top fighters go for the most valuable medals. We must add just as an tough: how could this tournament looked if the women categories had no leg-protection.