The 1st EFKO European Championship are history, the result well known, and 8 fighters – 4 women and 4 men are ready for the WFKO tournament i Osaka, Japan in May including the rest of the team from previous qualify. Many entertaining good fights was seen trough the 2 day tournaments – a short summary would be that favorites did as expected – and some new faces came trough the surface. The team behind the tournament has been working hard to make it happen, but as mention in the pre-article for the tournament, this was not necessary the easy task to complete.
Because of the place,venue, time and team around the tournament – one could not easily get rid of the “Diamond Cup” feeling. Not necessary a big deal, maybe more a credit to Koen Spitaels Shihan and his team for leaving a impression from earlier events.
The support into the tournament was as expected – medium. Long story short (again) there are way to many big tournaments in a already tight schedule. We have repeatedly pointed out the disadvantages of this, both when it comes to the participants as well as the organizational part. A significant factor will also be the cost of attending, and not least arranging.
The 1st EFKO EC went smoothly, and as we know, the team behind know where the focus should be. Lately, more or less all the larger tournaments have the similar wrapping. Draws, updates and promotions are more or less following the same lines. naturally enough, since the same systems are used. using one fight area will gives plus and minus. Great because no one misses anything. The flip-side is that it takes very long time to complete the entire tournament. In this case – no need to have a two days tournament – but, again – if this kind of tournaments had been held in a more moderate matter – the number of fighters would increase – two days would be more right.
It’s nothing new, the same thing was happening in the KWU EC 2018 – when one got fighters only coming in the second day -the day of the finals. Further on, for those who planned to watch the tournament at home the streaming had some better result the second day than the first. The need to reload the first day was noticeable – OK, nothing dramatic – but when this is a paid service, one do expect better. And as we mention “pay per view” this is disappointing, one could feel that it’s mowing in the wrong direction. “Promoting” the sport by taking a fee like this – would be like deny people to watch – when we actually need more people to see what we do. But ok maybe this was a try out one time, lets hope so.
On the tatami “the game was on” right from the start. In the women’s categories, all the ordinary rounds was 2 minutes – men 3 minutes from Quarterfinals.
In the lighters women category, -50 kg, only 5 fighters was in the line up, and as expected out from previous merits and results the final became a fight between Hayley Beth Rowlands / Great Britain vs Alona Veresniak / Ukraine. Last mention took the fight on judges after the ordinary round. Some did expect a extension, may especially since it was a final, but Veresniak a hair more active and was awarded the victory. This was in the line of the judging trough the tournament – a little faster decisions we are used to see, but thinking of where this ends up, we can only assume that the decision will come even faster in May. As we mention, this category had only five fighter – and in this case the organizer came up with a splendid twist – not giving away the third place, but having the Fight for 3rd place, -50 kg, Simona Urbutyte / Lithuania – Maria Adria / Spain. This make the 3rd place holder a better felling than be given the 3rd place after one fight that is a loss.
European Team to Japan WFKO Women – 50 kg:
- Erika Zeburtovic / Lithuania
- Alena Veresniak / Ukraine
In the under 55 kg category we had some real a crowd pleasers. A very intense pace and spirit was separating this category a little from others, and in the lead for this, now the champion: Eider Cardeñosa Etxeberria / Spain. The final against Anastasia Mikhalova / Germany become a long tough battle – but it did not slow down, it kept the intensity that we had seen trough the semifinal as well. The semifinals, Agata Kozubowska / Poland vs Anastasia Mikhalova / Poland and Eider Cardeñosa Etxeberria vs Agnieszka Winek /Poland, was at the same level as the final, a very tight, tough category in total. And on top of that, the spirit award of the tournament was given to Eider Cardeñosa Etxeberria.
European Team to Japan WFKO Women -55 kg
- Anna Bielska / Poland
- Eider Cardenosa / Spain
Under 60 kg had some really highly merited fighters in the line up, and they did not disappoint. World champion Valence Bickel / Netherlands, KWF, made her way to the final with strong kicks and punches, and did really show that even with the women shin pads – lowkicks can slow you down and hurt you. But she was challenged in the semifinal by Polish fighter Ewa Jabluszewska, who was capable of taking on the world champion. But Ewa Jabluszewska did get the warning that med her lose the final shot. The other semifinal was won by Lithuanian fighter Rūta Brazdžionytė vs Polish fighter Anna Wiatrowska. A very good fight, both very explosive and showed a good variation in their fighting style. Rūta Brazdžionytė grew only stronger into the fight, and the constant pressure to the body “choke down” he opponent. This became the same thing in the final, where Rūta Brazdžionytė took the fight in the extension really pressuring her opponent, dominating her and secured the tittle. Rūta Brazdžionytė was awarded the Technical award.
European Team to Japan WFKO Women -60 kg
- Inga Mikstaite / Lithuania
- Ruta Brazdzionyte / Lithuania
The heaviest category +60 kg was paced with champions, world champions and EC Champions. The top favorite and world champion Brigita Gustaitytė / Lithuania, took the tittle as expected. With her long reach and very good to keep it at her distance made it very hard for others to challenge her. The semifinal was the only time in the tournament that she was challenged enough to go into extension. The Norwegian fighter Marleen Gregusson showed strength and tactic to make a good fight, but was clearly slowed down by punches to the head, signaled by the referee but not seen by the corner judges. whether it had given a different result is uncertain, but it would have given a slightly different match. Be that as it may, Brigita is not an unclean fighter, but due to height differences she will always face this challenge – with a high blow to her opponents. The final vs Csenge Toth / Hungary was very dominant and strong. The young Hungarian fighter with a very solid technical style was forced to back up almost trough the whole fight and lost after the ordinary round. But made in total a great impression, and also worth to mention her semifinal was a long a tough fight vs Aneta Meskauskiene / Lithuania. Why Lithuania could enter the category with three fighters from same org became a topic – but it is well so, that it is always possible to interpret a set of rules.
European Team to Japan WFKO Women +60 kg
- Agata Winiarska / Poland
- Ivanka Deleva / Bulgaria
- Brigita Gustaitytė / Lithuania
In the men division – 65 kg, Sergo Movseyan / Georgia became the champion. EC champion kwu, runner up in the Kwu World Champion. Became 3rd place holder in Shin EC 2019. Faced Khayal Nuriyev / Azerbaijan in the final. A final going trough ordinary time and 2 extensions, with Movseyan slowly but sure turning the fight in his favor. In style they were very similar, and mainly they went toe to toe from start to stop with punches and lowkicks. The category had several good profiled fighters, that raised the level for sure. Cristian Boldut / Romania, Konrad Kozubowski / Poland, Daniel Sternik / Poland – Sternik out with warnings vs Pablo Puchades / Spain – after a really good technical fight by Sternik. Pablo Puchades into the semi vs Sergo Movseyan who finished the Spanish fighter quick with two Wazari – head and body. Similar action in the other semi, Khayal Nuriyev takes out Azat Parsamyan / Armenia with good punch to the body. In total we would say that it is a favorite victory.
European Team to Japan WFKO Men -65 kg:
- Emin Ismayilli /Azerbaijan
- Andrei Zinchenko /Georgia,
- Sergo Movseyan /Georgia
Men under 75 kg, a quit large category with many merited fighters, strong fighters indeed – so the one who made it trough had to have it all. A surprise to many was when one of the big favorites Salahat Hasanov / Azerbaijan, left the tournament at a relatively early time. His loss came against the winner of the category Lasha Ozbetelashvili / Georgia. This fight was a “final” and a very strong figure by Lasha Ozbetelashvili who had this heavy fight in the quarter final – and still went all the way. He was challenged hard in the semi by Ali Hayder / Sweden, but the Swede could not keep the punched low, and went our on warnings. He had earlier faced a strong Alexis Warth / France, and eminent George Suciu / Romania.
With Lasha Ozbetelashvili in the final vs Milan Moczo / Hungary, one can say that this was a setting hard to predict. Ozbetelashvili could be a name one could see coming – but Moczo was a great surprise. The young Hungarian fighter advanced in the tournament on the cost of Domas Sutkus / Lithuania – Kwu vice world champion, and Tengiz Bastoiani / Georgia in the semifinal. Advancing by judge decision, holding a higher pace in total trough the fights. In the final Moczo keep hanging on the technical level, but Ozbetelashvili being clearly the stronges one.
European Team to Japan WFKO Men -75 kg
- Mikheil Tsiklauri / Georgia
- Justinas Kvietka / Lithuania
- Lasha Ozbetelashvili / Georgia
Men under 85 kg, Jean-Paul Jacquot / France goes all the way, the French powerhouse is a brutal gentleman! Stopping 3 of 4 of his opponents before full time! His “dance-partner” in the final, Rasmus Bergström / Sweden, have also a very good tournament. Showing his capacity in the technical aspect, nicely mixed up with movements and power. It seems that all components comes together. The swede as also awarded the technical award. In the final – we think that both fighters showed exactly why they reached the final and how. Jean-Paul Jacquot seems a number to big for Bergström this time. As mention Jacquot made short process in his way to the final, Bergström fought his way with several good fighters as well. A really good fight was in the semi against a very tough fighter fro Lithuania, Orestas Abazorius. This fight had it all, and was very entertaining.
European Team to Japan WFKO Men -85 kg
- Valeri Dimitrov / Bulgaria
- Juras Sokolovas / Lithuania
- Jean-paul Jacquot / France
The heaviest category men + 85 kg, was unfortunately to report, very predictable in the draw / line up. With 14 fighters in the category. Top nation Lithuania with four fighters, three of them with clearly capacity to reach the final. And that was the results av well. Top fighter and favorite Eventas Gužauskas took the title. Knocking of veteran Jan Soukup / Czech Republic on his way, and making it look easy. Cred to Soukup pushing himself into this high level tournament at an respectable age. The other finalist contender Paulius Žimantas, taking on team mate Antanas Klibavicius in the semi, knocking him out with punch to the body. The final becomes an anticlimax, the arena are completely dead, and after a strength demonstration by Gužauskas he becomes the + 85 kg champion.
European Team to Japan WFKO Men +85 kg
- Edgard Secinski / Lithuania
- Eventas Guzauskas / Lithuania
- Paulius Zimantas / Lithuania
As we said, many good fight – and the fighters are giving their best. The tournament are also so good it can be – based on one’s assumptions. Once again: it is nothing new about it, we have seen it before, but it will be more and more visual. There are to many big tournaments that has been added to an already fully packed schedule.
Anyway one must not forget the tremendous work all involved part does to create, and to make thing happen. Please: do not burn yourself out!