World Championship Success for Celbridge in Jersey

Damien Kearney reports

Celbridge Kenpo Karate Academy had five representatives on the Irish team which competed at the 2008 World Kenpo Karate Championships on the Channel Island of Jersey. The championships were held at the spectacular Fort Regent Auditorium which is a vast entertainment and leisure complex situated in the town of Saint Helier in Jersey.  Almost one thousand competitors from 25 countries converged on Jersey for the Championships. The opening ceremony began early on Saturday morning 29th March and including spectacles such as a flag ceremony, a marching band, a traditional oriental lion dance, and a skilful and entertaining demonstration by an American Demo Team.

The Celbridge Kenpo Karate Academy Team 2008

From left to right: Damien Kearney, Aisling Downey, Aisling Byrne, Niamh Byrne,
Derek Carey and Joey Hayes.

The Celbridge Kenpo Karate Academy Team was as follows; Aisling Byrne, Niamh Byrne, Aisling Downey, Derek Carey and Damien  Kearney, The team focused on competing in the brown and black belt events and were anxious to build upon their fantastic success which they achieved at last year's World Championships event in Belgium.

Forms were the first event of the day, with ten divisions running simultaneously. Having powerful performance in the senior brown belt forms division, Aisling Downey tied with Mexico's Carlos Hernandez for first place. Both competitors performed again, with the Mexican taking first place by the narrowest of margins. Ms. Downey took second place, the first trophy of the day for the Celbridge team.

Aisling Byrne performed the staff form with poise and power to take second place in the Black Belt individual weapons division, a division in which the standard was as high as one would expect.

After the individual forms came the team forms, with success all round for the Celbridge team. Sisters Aisling and Niamh Byrne took second place in the Black belt team forms division. This achievement is made even greater by the fact that Niamh, who competed individually in the brown belt cadet division, moved up to the senior black belt division to compete with her sister. Damien Kearney also moved up from the brown to black belt division for team weapons, where he and Aisling Byrne took second place with their team staff form, beating a team from Jersey and losing out narrowly to another Irish team.

Aisling Downey
Aisling Downey

The sparring divisions came next, and the Irish team excelled again. Derek Carey fought off competition from Jersey, Spain and Ireland to take a deserved first place in the brown belt sparring competition. In the brown belt teams division, Derek and Damien teamed up with Neil Roberts from Jersey. Together they beat teams from Ireland, Jersey and England to take gold. In her sparring division, Aisling Downey took 3rd place, first place being won by Spain's Teresa del Pozo. Niamh Byrne claimed victory in the 16 and under brown and black belt sparring division, beating Belgium's Kimberley Hofman in the final. In the black belt division, Aisling Byrne had more success, taking second place. She was beaten in the final by Jenny Boulmeti from Greece, an excellent fighter who genuinely outclassed everyone else in the division. The Celbridge girls teamed up again for the black belt team sparring and took silver. They were beaten in the final by a strong team captained by Jenny Boulmeti. She was joined by Lis Maria Brandt from Denmark and Mexico's Ana Christina Velazquez Mar. Damien "Iceman" Kearney and Derek "Goose" Carey joined forces with Joey "Maverick" Hayes to fight in the black belt teams division. The Top Gun team was beaten by the top class Latin Power team. The Mexican/Venezuelan team was the fastest and most skilful in the division, taking first place.

All in all, the Celbridge team performed exceptionally well, taking three first places, six second places and one third place. The competition proved that the standards maintained by Senior Professor Edward Downey, his instructors, and students at the Celbridge Kenpo Karate Academy are some of the highest in Europe, if not the world.

The Celbridge club has now achieved World Ranking Status and they have been invited to a number of Martial Arts grand prix events including the Mexican open.  The team is now focusing on its next international event which will be the International Karate Championships which will be held in Long beach, California August, this is one of the world's most renowned martial arts championships.  In the meanwhile the next outing for the Celbridge competitors will be at the Irish Cup Championships which being held in the National Basketball Arena; this is an International challenge match at which the Irish Team competes against the United States Team for the coveted Irish Cup Trophy.