EC in Georgia showed that the future in the women categories looks very bright, good fights yes, but we can also see that the lower level have moved up and are better prepared than ever. Development in women fighting has moved at full speed forward, and as we see it, it is now important that the organizational part keep up. The EC level in Georgia prove a certain high level, so many skilled athletes in action..
Development in women fighting has moved at full speed forward, and as we see it, it is now important that the organizational part keep up. Very specific issues here will be, for example, participation in the World Championship Japan, where the European region has a very tough qualification program. Here, all member states (who have the opportunity) should be able to send their nation’s chosen practitioner – on an equal footing with men.
Further on, synchronize the weight categories EC / World Championship with weight categories (in this case also men, and yes we know this is on the agenda) What about shin protection? That’s a game changer. Well we leave it out there..
Women -50 kg category, we can say that we saw a favourite victory. Eight fighters in the category and a couple of them manage to retain their position on the podium from earlier EC. 3rd place holder 2019 Maria Adria / Spain repeated her achievement this year. Fought a technical good Mariia Lozben / Ukraine. Lozben making a good fight, keeping her opponent busy with punches and kick, especially inside low-kick front leg, and some good knees as well. Adria being the one with a more aggressive finish. Extra round and the same pattern, Lozben starts best, Adria finishes stronger – and gets the flags.
This means that Adria faces Brigita Svinkūnaitė / Lithuania in the next, the semi-final. Svinkūnaitė fought and defeated Monika Podora / Poland in an aggressive fight. The fight had a very high pace and no doubt that this was at a certain level. The young Lithuanian fighter showed great skills fighting Maria Adria, and from the start the pressure are on. Svinkūnaitė keep a constant pressure, moving side to side and executes techniques with good accuracy and variation. Adria tries to come back in the last part of the fight, but cannot change the outcome. Svinkūnaitė goes to the final.
Natalia Chrzanowska / Poland and Alona Veresniak / Ukraine was ready in the other semi-final. Chrzanowska had defeated Viktorija Dambrauskaitė / Lithuania, shoving strength and a very strong drive through the whole fight. Coming close with a front kick to the head as well, that connected but did not score. Veresniak, the veteran and the favourite in the weight-category, did not disappoint. Taking a 2 x Waza-ari in the first fight against home fighter Salome Modebadze / Georgia.
Veresniak being too strong in a good semi-final, where Chrzanowska manage to follow for a while, but being marked by the pace and of course Veresniak doing her job. Veresniak seems to be the one working more systematic, good punches and lades several low-kicks as well. Final for Veresniak, victory on flags.
The final between Brigita Svinkūnaitė and Alona Veresniak was a fight between the most experienced fighter and the “newcomer”. Svinkūnaitė coming into the championship fresh senior as it gets, 18 years. Could she manage to threaten the champion from 2018? Svinkūnaitė goes straight to business, and causing a challenge to Veresniak with her side-to-side movements. Veresniak coming in with her strikes and low-kicks, but due to the sideways movements of Svinkūnaitė, causes some miss – especially with the lowkicks. Veresniak with her experience finding out the pattern and rhythm of her opponent, and works her way deeper and deeper into the fight. This is a close one, so an extra round coms up.
The extension keeps the pattern, both with their own style to reach the victory. Both very good at what they do, so two min. story told fast: new extension! In this round, it seems that more and more punches from Veresniak finds their way. Especially lower punches on Svinkūnaitė left side. The difference is not big – but enough, so Alona Veresniak becomes European Champion 2021!
In the -55 kg weight-category, the major favorited Teona Gazdeliani / Georgia did what most expected her to do. (Note that Gazdeliani this time represented Georgia, not Spain as usually) The whole podium in this category where changed since last time. With the clear number one ranked Gazdeliani, there was an even higher interest for the rest of the podium as usually. In addition, a very interesting podium it was in the end of the day.
Can you tell when you saw a flag from Croatia and Germany at the podium in this setting? We think this is the first time for both nations (in the Shinkyokushin EC) in the women category. Nika Jakobović / Croatia showed a good drive in her fights, combined with a nice variation of techniques and movements. No doubt that there is a good technical base – that only will develop further.
Drive through Valeriia Demchenko / Ukraine in the first fight, being the strongest one. Next fight vs Vanda Devenyi / Hungary, both with some good head-kick attempts – hard demanding fight, before Jakobović earn a victory with a roll-kick in the extension. Fist a Waza-ari (with 20 seconds left) so a full Ippon in the last second of the fight. Anastasia Mikhalova / Germany in the third fight.
The first semi—finale, Nika Jakobović vs Anastasia Mikhalova / Germany, who had worked her way and winning against Oliwia Kurzątkowska Poland – in a tough fight, then and in the 2nd fight vs a merited Eider Cardenosa / Spain. Cardenosa on her side had good opening fight vs Evelina Bidžanova / Lithuania – who came close with some high knees and kicks. Cardenosa neutralised the reach advantage of Bidžanova and worked her way to the victory.
Anastasiia Osokina / Ukraine vs Anna Bielska / Poland, Bielska lost in a fight with many warnings due to high punches. This was a very good fight, yes we could like to avoid all the warnings / high punching, but two very solid fighters and did show a lot of good fighting. The high punching did continue in the semi-final with Osokina vs Gazdeliani. This fight was not so fluid a technical as we had seen before in the category, but sometimes that’s the game. Gazdeliani advancing to the final after flag count.
The final where also marked by head/ high punches. Unfortunately, the fight is broken up because of this, and loses some of its charm. That is all to say about the final – because after forty seconds the fight is over, and that by a decision no one really understood. Nevertheless, Teona Gazdeliani representing Georgia became the champion as expected.
Women -60 kg category with 15 fighters from ten nations got some interesting set ups. Merited and profiled fighters as Lily Mezo and Rūta Brazdžionytė as good examples. These two was also the two entering the tatami for the final fight in this category.
Advancing to the second round, favourites and previous EC podium fighters made it through. Include a couple of up and coming fighters. Ukrainian fighters did a good championship all over and even so, they missed the podium in this category, they had quality in their representatives. Anna Sas / Ukraine clipped Vaiva Kairaitytė / Lithuania twice with good body-shots.
In the second round Anna Sas / Ukraine faced runner up from 2019, Solmaz Zeynalli / Azerbaijan in a very entertaining fight. Both involved in good exchanges, powerful and very nice combos put together. Keeping the distance made it also very clean and technical and one could see “the game” where played. Solmaz Zeynalli being the more aggressive last part of the fight, and that was the difference – and the way to the victory.
A little of the same pattern was I the next fight with Lili Mezo / Hungary vs Ekaterina Yushkevich / Belarus. Both with a good first fight, Mezo scoring in her fight with Shanty Jacobs / Belgium, Yushkevich gets the flag over Natalia Korzec / Poland. Mezo being too strong and takes the victory.
Further on Swedish Mirjam Björklund winning her second fight of the day, earning a scoring just before the time runs out. Looking at the fight I total, one could see that Björklund would have taken the fight without the scoring as well – dominating Maria Virtudes Estevan / Spain.
Rūta Brazdžionytė looking very strong facing Sandra Nowak / Poland, takes a full scoring after a minute with some well-timed body-punches. Nowak being a very competent fighter, as we know, so this victory was a good statement from Rūta Brazdžionytė.
She copy in her next fight, the semi-finale vs Björklund, after a minute of fighting two waza-aris, and Brazdžionytė are ready for the final. Björklund on her side ends up at 3rd place, a very good result coming into the senior category. The other semi-final, Lili Mezo vs Solmaz Zeynalli / Azerbaijan. Zeynalli has been with the best, and was as mention the runner up in 2019 – facing Inga Mikstaite in the final.
All are now aware of the capacity of Mezo, the reach advantage and the technical register, yes but also the explosiveness executing chosen attacks. One more thing we get an impression of this time, is that Mezo preform tactical and economic in her style. This means that she is more cynical in her style, and far more difficult to overcome. The physical capacity will naturally also last longer with these elements intact.
Solmaz Zeynalli is no “push over” stays compost the whole fight, eating a couple of high-kicks to the head, but does not lose focus for that matter. Great stamina, constantly inside the fight and will not allow herself to be shaken off. Good all round skills, both offensively and defensively. This contributes to an even and tough match, which goes out in all extensions possible, before Mezo gets the victory.
The final between Lili Mezo and Rūta Brazdžionytė are for many a “chosen final” to watch. This because both are so good, that one just want to see this fight, and how it will go down. Both fighters possesses a level so high, that one can assume that it want be easy for none of them to take the other one out. So the question is how can they get to victory – is there a “chink in the armour” to find?
Rūta Brazdžionytė takes it, as you all know, after an extra round. Closing in and constant pressure makes it hard for her opponent. Lily Mezo moves well, use fewer techniques – but sharp when delivered. Get contact to the head with kicking techniques this time too, but not enough to get the effect. What you see is that the timing and execution of the techniques are so good that it gets past the guard – so this will become more dangerous on sight. A strong championship for both and a good tittle for Rūta Brazdžionytė.
Women -65 kg have several top fighters, and did in this case get so more, coming down from +65 category where they use to fight. Many good fight in this category, interesting also, when we had new faces in the category.
Ivanka Popova / Bulgaria showed again great strength winning the category. Being the reign champion and the Open -Weight champion from 2018 one can of course expect a top level. Taking on Aiala Garcia / Spain in the first fight. The results comes in a two times waza-ari by working the body hard from the start. Outworking Erika Rukšėnaitė / Lithuania in the next fight, before facing Camille Haddouche / France in the semi-final. The same happens in this fight, neither Haddouche nor Rukšėnaitė can follow the pace (and the variation in the speed and rhythm) of Popova, 3 minutes and Popova goes to the final!
Aneta Meškauskienė made her way to the final by winning fight vs newcomer Bianca Larisa Coras / Romania, before going up against home fighter Tamar Bibileishvili / Georgia. The semi-final was against young promising Hungarian fighter Reka Kerekes. The fight is quite even but more activity by Meškauskienė tips the victory that way. That said, the audience gasped as a roll kick where performed by Kerekes in the closing seconds. The timing was perfect – the aiming a little of. But solid performed by Meškauskienė through the whole fight.
The final Ivanka Popova / Bulgaria vs Aneta Meškauskienė / Lithuania becomes a copy of the three previous fights done by Popova, and close the deal with a scoring by punches to the body.
All the fights of Popova have so intensity when it comes to the punching and working the body that no one could stands against it. The intensity, power, change of rhythm and timing – a beautiful example of how the use of simple techniques in several contexts combined with the physical aspect makes it “deadly” effective.
The heaviest category +65 kg in the women’s division was possibly the class that was most discussed in advance. Not so strange, considering that the class had three world champions and x number of European champions.
The young raising star Monika Zielińska / Poland swept across the category with a drive no one could stop. It is tempting to say that Monika Zielińska did the same in this category as Ivanka Popova did in the category below. All three-world champions had to step aside, and the special award given to Zielińska was very correct.
Zielińska started to face Norwegian Marleen Gregusson in the fistfight. Gregusson making first contact moves well and connect with good lowkicks. Zielińska known for very good back-kicks, but movement and good eyes brings Gregusson out of position for a possible hit. As the fight, goes on Zielińska turn on the turbo and Gregusson could not follow. This pattern was recognizable in the rest of the matches as well.
Second fight Csenge Szepesi / Hungary – no introduction needed. This was the first fight for Csenge Szepesi, since the draw gave a W.O. in the first round. Csenge comes out and takes initiative and get “things started” But slowly more and more Zielińska eats her way into the fight, and during the last minute the pace raises higher and higher. The ending from Zielińska is so strong that Csenge being pushed backwards and dominated.
End of round, and before the decision Csenge takes Zielińska hand and congratulations her on the fight. But, the judges give an extension, even though a decision had actually been made. Csenge takes once again the initiative and Zielińska seems laid back – could she burned herself out in the last part of the first round? No, she is still in – and then some! Back-kicks are connecting, and roll-kicks also appear – the variation comes to play. Pace raises times fly, and this time Zielińska gets the victory – and applaud from Csenge, showing class act.
Semi-final and Brigita Gustaitytė / Lithuania is ready. Brigita Gustaitytė comes from a long fight with newcomer Anastasiia Nesterenko / Ukraine, who was very impressive in her appearance. The KWU World Champion does not manage to run over Anastasiia Nesterenko, who are fighting well all-round, and close with her roll-kicks. After extensions, Nesterenko evidently runs a little empty and the victory goes to Gustaitytė. Out of gas its can not a topic in the next fight with Monika Zielińska. Zielińska takes the fight after 3 min. of intensive fighting. This time she also attacks the liver side hard with kicks. Gustaitytė known for having good control regarding to the distance, and a very strong last 30 seconds. All this are being shout down by Zielińska, the pace from start are about what we have seen the last 30 second from Gustaitytė earlier. And the last 30 seconds is beyond that again.
Agata Winiarska / Poland consider be one of the top favourites. Been in the top ranks for many years, and have the merits to back that up. Facing Therese N Østebrød / Norway in the opening fight. Winiarska takes the fight on flags after ordinary round, Østebrød doing a good job, staying composed and have a constant pressure to get better distance.
Next fight for Winiarska: Anastasiia Khrustalova / Ukraine. The fight starts with a high pace and some very strong exchanges of kicks and punches. After a little while, the strongest and most systematic Winiarska seems to get the best out of it, the pressure from Khrustalova decreases and the opposite for Winiarska. The strong pressure from Winiarska drives Khrustalova out of the tatami several times. On the distance Winiarska, also mixing things up, some sidesteps and lowkicks makes a new entry. Decision to Winiarska after ordinary round.
Semi-final and “another Csenge” from Hungary, Csenge Tóth. This young athlete have solid base technically as well as physically. Despite young age, challenging the top fighters in the category. Coming of a win against EC KWU champion Rima Lisinskaitė / Lithuania.
Winiarska being too strong in close distance, Tóth with good footwork changes the angles constant. Experienced Winiarska catching these movements, and when the distance goes from close to long – Winiarska closing it imminently with attacks, a punishing front kick to the body for an example. 2 flags to Winiarska 3 for extension. Inside low-kicks and deep stomach punches from Winiarska in the extension. Still good movements from Tóth, and working to answer the attacks. One more extension. The pattern from earlier keeps going, both fighters are digging deep now, and it is down to will and stamina. This time five flags for Winiarska.
A Polish final is a fact, Agata Winiarska vs Monika Zielińska. It’s a final, and it shows. The quality of what’s being done are very good, and the effect of their techniques shows. Zielińska this time also add some hard round-kicks to the liver-side of Winiarska – and the kick/punch at the (almost) same time find its way. Together with the constant changing side, high pace and very strong pressure – Monika Zielińska does what brought her to the final – win. Poland with a two top fighters in the heaviest category, and it will be interesting to see next year in September what they can deliver in the World Championship on home soil.