We returned home from a LONG journey… probably the longest I have ever had in one go. But we made it home…. all I can say is that renting out shower rooms was an ingenious idea from the staff at Narita Airport.

The competition was a high level in both tournaments and it was great to be able to kick the year off with this great experience.

Dutch Open, 8 – 9 March 2008. Rotterdam, The Netherlands

JAMES GIULIANO (Men’s Kata)….. James was finally able to spread his wings and do a 6 kata epic performance. He defeated tough competitors from the Czech Republic and Sweeden to get through to the finals. James performed Anan against the New Calidonian born Frenchman, Mihn Dahk’s Chatan Yara Kusunku. James has previously beaten Dahk at the Oceania Championships in 2006. But this time, France came out on top. The flags were 0-5.

FOTI BAROUNIS (-75kg)….. Foti was winning his fight by 2 points until the last second where a take down from nowhere came to see the final score as 2-3. Arguably, this happened after the full-time bell, but we didn’t have it clear enough on our video footage. Although the fighter was a strong competitor from Germany, he didn’t make it through to the finals.

KRISTINA MAH (-60kg)….Kristina won her first fight against Finland 1-0. Her second fight was against Tunisia. She lost 0-3. The Tunisian unfortunately lost to the current World Champion in this division from Slovakia who eventually finished 2nd to Venezuela in the finals.

LEON ROMARY (-70kg)….Leon won his first fight and got out of a tough spot. His second fight showed him to be much more in control and scoring more convincingly. Unfortunately he lost a point in last seconds of the fight and his opponent lost in the semi-finals which counted him out of Repecharge.

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Foti and James

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James Giuliano – Silver, Men’s Open Kata

Intermission in France

Thank you to our friends from Sport Central Karate Club – Gilles Cherdieu and Darrich, and SIK, Paris – Serge Chouraqui and Maxime – for taking us in for a couple of training sessions and making our trip even cooler.

The students at the club are so awesome to train with – we really hope that one day we will have to opportunity to train with you in Sydney and show you around here! Sab, Fatemeh, Amar and Hacen – thanks for the wonderful dinner – we took home some great memories from our short stay with you.

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Training with our friends in SIK (Sporting International Karate), Paris.

Mohammed VI Karate Cup, 15 – 16 March 2008, Rabat, Morocco.

It was a refreshing change to feel the humid air in Rabat. Getting back to double figures in the temperature was exactly what our frozen fingers and noses were asking for.

The organisation of the event was great. Everything was paid for and taken care of as the Moroccan Federation said it would be. As far as the competition itself…

FOTI BAROUNIS (-75kg) —- Foti won the first round quite convincingly against Congo 2-0 although didn’t manage to hold of the competitor from Saudi Arabia in the 2nd round. He was leading in the first minute and a half when the Saudi competitor started to come back. The final score was 3-5. The final of the division was between France and Morocco. France’s SDRIC SIOUSSARON lost (not convincingly though) to HICHAM RAHI of Morocco.

TSUNEARI YAHIRO (-60kg) —- Tsuneari was fighting well on the day, and was just a little unlucky to have “the Moroccan Golden Boy” as his first round fight. The fight was close and ended in Hantei decision after extra time where the referee made a casting vote for Morocco. This fighter lost in the next round to Italy’s FRANCESCO ORTU who in turn lost to Frrenchman DAVY DONA in the Semi Finals. DONA eventually took out the division.

Tsuneari will be training in Japan and getting back to Sydney on the morning of the State Championships! Have fun and good luck training over there. We are looking forward to your stories!

MICHELLE WILSON (+60kg) —- Michelle had a tough fight against Portugal in the first round but couldn’t get through. The final scoreline was 6-7. The fight could have gone either way but unfortunately the clock wasn’t on her side this time around.

KRISTINA MAH (-60kg) —- Italy’s LAURA PASQUA was the first round fight Kristina had. She lost in a similar way she did to Tunisia in Rotterdam one week earlier. The scoreline even read the same (0-3). The Italian made it to the finals with Russian MARIA SOBOL which allowed Kristina to fight in Repecharge. She easily defeated Congo (9-0) and then Portugal (7-0) to secure a Bronze medal. SOBOL went on to win the division.

JAMES GIULIANO (Men’s Kata) — James made more heads turn with his stylish kata – he got through the elimination rounds defeating Kuwait and Portugual. He was once again going to the finals guaranteeing another “big-screen-kata-main-event” special. Italy was a surprise upset, losing in the first round to Egypt’s MOSTAPHA KHALIL. The Egyptian saw his way to the finals against Australia. James performed Chatan Yara Kusunko this time in the finals against KHALIL’s Empi. Everyone held their breaths as the whistle went off, but the final score was 1-4 (Egypt). Still, it was a great result of Silver for Jewlz. Good Luck in Italy!!!! Turn the competition into bolognese!!

Thanks to Shihan and Sensei Con for their guidance and help throughout the 2 weeks.

For now, it’s back to the drawing boards, but we are more motivated than ever…

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Kristina Mah – Bronze, -60kg Women’s Kumite

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Final dinner in Rabat. (left to right: James, Tsuneari, Foti, Kristina, Shihan)

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