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On Sunday 22nd September three members of Sandwell Tae Kwon Do travelled to Alfreton Leisure Centre to participate in the annual Heart of England National English Championships competition. There were over 400 people in attendance on the day and the competition was a hive of activity. Competitors tested their skills in traditional martial arts patterns, sparring, high kick, speed tests and destruction categories.

The youngest member of the squad was seven year old Gracie Bedenham, a keen sparrer from West Bromwich, Gracie fought well in her division taking home a bronze medal. She narrowly missed out in the pattern event and did well in the high kicking event to also earn a bronze medal. Gillis Robbie had a fantastic day winning a medal in every event he entered! Gillis won both destruction and special destruction becoming national champion for breaking two boards with side kick and jumping technique. He also won silver in sparring after he drew and the match went to a nail-biting thirty second extension where his competitor landed some on-point kicks to win. In the patterns category Gillis performed a very technical pattern which he will showcase later in the year with the hope of achieving his black belt and he was awarded bronze in a very competitive division.

Instructor Claire Southall has become English Champion winning gold in the Ladies heavyweight sparring division. In the final Claire fought a lady who was 15kg heavier and fought well over two 2 minute rounds to be awarded the accolade. She also took silver in the black belt patterns division after performing three very skilled patterns to the judges.

Sandwell Tae Kwon Do are now training hard in specialist sparring and fitness classes to improve their skills.

Miss Southall said ‘I am very proud of our up and coming competitors, three of us competed and we brought home 8 medals in total which is a good accolade for a small team in a national event. We currently have a programme running to encourage more girls and ladies into martial arts and I hope that seeing myself and Gracie achieve titles will encourage others into the sport.’

For more information on taking part in tae kwon do classes please visit

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