CUKBS wins Varsity Kickboxing 2014

Varsity2014It is with great pride and pleasure that I can announce that on Saturday 8 March the Cambridge University Kickboxing Society (CUKBS) won, once more and for the 4th consecutive time, the Varsity Kickboxing tournament against Oxford University Kickboxing.

We will add details about the individual fights at a later stage but I feel it is  important to write this little post just to officially state our victory, already strongly celebrated on Facebook.

Congratulations to all fighters Anna, Francesca, Prithvi, Tim, Raz, Dom and Kostas that all contributed to this victory. A great thank you to all members of CUKBS, ARUKBC and CARISMA which helped with training and preparation for these fighters.  A super special thanks goes also to Duncan, Georgios, James and Jarek which all helped and contributed, with their expertise and efforts, to train and prepare these fighters. Videos and further information about the fights will follow in due course.

Three wins for CARISMA at the Suffolk Combat – September 2013

20130915_134104On Sunday 15 September 8 CARISMA fighters attended the Suffolk Combat event organised by Pete Dunnett of CKA and managed to secure 3 first places.

Here a short description of each fight:

  • Kostas Ziovas, member of the Cambridge University Kickboxing Society – CUKBS – on his third fight, was the first fighter from CARISMA being on the ring and despite a good combination of alternated punches and kicks was defeated by just one point.
  • Alex Kravetz, also at his third fight, managed to deliver some good combinations of punches and kick and securing the first win of the day albeit by one point.
  • Natasha Taylor, on her second fight, was definitely affected by nerves and not performing as we have seen her in the past.  Facing a very aggressive and pushing opponent she managed to use a variety of accurate punches and kicks to score repeatedly and secure the second win of the day.
  • Nina Street, at her first fight and with just 3 months of experience in kickboxing, managed to deliver a very good fight with variety of combinations of effective punches and kicks but she was defeated by a slightly more experienced opponent.
  • Lukasz Siobisz, at his first fight, showed a good repertoire of kicks and punches but was defeated by a slightly more skilled opponent who managed to score more.
  • Max Larkinson, at his first fight, delivered a great show with very good combinations of well alternated punches and kicks, interleaved with great foot work and accurate timing.  He secured and obvious third first for the day.
  • Jarek Rzepecki, at his second official fight despite his long experience in martial arts, delivered a good fight with the broadest variety of techniques seen on the day.  Despite what it looked as an obvious win he was defeated by judges’ decision.
  • Raz Jabary, member of CUKBS – on his second fight and following a recent injury, delivered a very good fight with some powerful combinations of kicks and punches.  Despite the initial recommendations of strictly enforced Light Contact style the referee allowed a level of contact that was way out of our expectations and Raz, somehow confused, kept fighting with a level of pressure that was just not enough to keep his opponent at bay.

A successful career in fighting sport must start somewhere and small regional tournaments are the right environment for building experience from scratch, while ensuring safety and reasonably fair judging.  We thank Pete Dunnett and his team for another well delivered event.  Videos of the fights will be available soon.

Kickboxing for stress and exams

OllieOsunkunleOlaoluwakitan ‘Ollie’ Osunkunle (pictured here with his belt representing the national title he won in May 2013) is a CARISMA member who is leaving us this month after training very hard and regularly for 6 years.  Ollie joined us when he first started studying at the University of Cambridge for his medical degree which he achieved last month.  In 6 years with us he won several fights against various university teams as well in open regional and national competitions and he was awarded a 1st Dan black belt just a couple of weeks before his medical degree.  In his latest fight, weeks before his final exams, he won a national title.

One thing I often pointed out as a remark to his dedication was the consistency of his training regardless of the time of the year; he was one of the few university students that kept training during exam terms so I asked him to write a short article where he describes in his own words the experience of studying hard for a very demanding degree and, at the same time, train hard to be ready to fight at national level.  Here is his article:

            7 am. I fling myself bolt upright in bed. Letting out a great yawn, I do some simple stretches as I try to clear my mind for the day ahead. One day left. This is it. After six years of medical school; dissecting dead bodies; chemistry practicals and endless exams. This is it. My final exam before I hopefully earn the right to call myself doctor.

I sit at my desk and read through my list of tasks for the day ahead, there is only one decision left to make. “6.30pm → Kickboxing – sparring training”, can I make it? Of course, now let me explain why.

I studied medicine in Cambridge University. During my exam periods I kept my exercise routine as near to normal as possible. During the couple of months prior to my exams, I took part in the Oxford vs. Cambridge varsity match, won a national kickboxing competition and achieved my black belt in kickboxing. These achievements are by no means out of the ordinary and I know many other students that have kept up far more extensive sports participation.

I believe that there are a few key reasons why people give up on their exercise routines in the run-up to a major exam. Firstly, the threat of the impending exam causes the body to enter into a state of stress. In this state, people stop working to achieve their goals and instead struggle desperately to relieve themselves of their stress. Spending hours sat in front of study books is one such technique to relieve stress. However, those hours spent are often in excess of what is productive. A change is as good as a rest.

Secondly, with a prepared study plan and objectives to achieve before the exam, one might believe that there is simply not enough time to study and exercise in the same day. The disease of “time excusitis”. However, for most people, this is simply not the case. Working more efficiently: smarter rather than harder allows ample time for exercise in one’s day. Application of key principles such as Pareto’s law, commonly known as the 80/20 rule allows one to reduce the amount of material to learn. After all, 80% of the key information to learn will be covered in 20% of the available materials. Combined with Parkinson’s law, known as the law of forced efficiency, reducing the amount of time you have available to study forces you to focus on only the most relevant and high-yield data. Taking time out to kickbox helps you study smarter.

Thirdly, there is the worry of the biological effects that kickboxing may have on your body. After all, you may worry: “won’t I be too tired to study if I spend all my energy exercising?” Fortunately, the reverse is usually true. Exercise acts as a great stress reliever. Whilst a small amount of stress improves performance, large amounts have been shown to be detrimental to performance (1). In addition, exercise has been shown to improve memory, a great benefit prior to exams! (2)

So the next time you’re contemplating spending an extra hour in front of the books or heading to class, pick up your gloves and remember that there’s really only one correct choice to make. Punch away.

1.    L P. Emotionality and the Yerkes-Dodson Law. J Exp Psychol. 1957;54(5):345–52.

2.    Stroth S, Hille K, Spitzer M, Reinhardt R. Aerobic endurance exercise benefits memory and affect in young adults. Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2009;19(2):223–43.

CARISMA secures two National Champions at the ICO National tournament

(L to R) Luca, Phil, Charlie, Ollie, Alex and Massimo

(L to R) Luca, Phil, Charlie, Ollie, Alex and Massimo

Glorious day for CARISMA on Sunday 14 April, at the ICO National Kickboxing tournament organised by Peter Dunnett of CKA in Bury St.Edmunds.  CARISMA secured, with five of our athletes taking part in the tournament, two national titles (Olaoluwakitan “Ollie” Osunkunle and Luca Senatore), and 2 second places (Phil Richardson and Charlie Gilmour).

Phil Richardson, category men -70Kg, (part of Cambridge University Kickboxing Society  CUKBS and member of the Varsity team 2012 that won against Oxford on 2nd of May) fought the final with his usual rich arsenal of punches and kicks but could not avoid being hit several times by an opponent with very fast legs, securing a second place.

Charlie Gilmour, category men -75Kg, (also part of CUKBS and member of the Varsity team 2012) did a very good fight, against an opponent that on paper looked very good but resourced to simple combinations of simple kicks and punches.  After an initial draw the judges decided to have an extra 30 second-round where  Charlie’s opponent managed to play that extra bit to secure a victory leaving Charlie with another second place for the day.

Ollie Osunkunle, category men -85Kg, (also part of CUKBS and member of the Varsity team 2008, 2011 and 2012) fought the semifinal against a tough opponent, who was convinced that blocking punches with his head was a good idea.  Despite Ollie’s very controlled techniques his opponent felt dizzy after a few strikes and the referee penalized Ollie with a point deduction for excess of contact… Despite the disadvantage Ollie secured this first victory and went on to fight the final.  In the final Ollie demonstrated a great level of control of the ring together with a broad variety of techniques applied at different ranges.  He totally annihilated his opponent, who had to be stand counted twice during the fight, and secured the first belt for the day.

Alex Kravetz, category men -90Kg, with just 6 months experience in kickboxing and at his first external fight, fought the semifinal with good technique but his lack of experience allowed his opponent to secure the victory.

Luca Senatore, category veteran men 80+Kg, the most experienced CARISMA fighter at this tournament, went straight into the final against a very heavy handed opponent whose strategy was to pin Luca against the ropes and punch him.  Luca showing great foot work and evasive strategies managed to score endless times with both punches and kicks, achieving an undisputed second victory and belt.

Once more CARISMA has demonstrated that good technique and strategic work, combined with regular and consistent training, keeps delivering great results and this event is there to prove it.

Videos of the event will follow in due course.

CUKBS wins Varsity Kickboxing 2013

(L to R) Kostas, Charlie, Tim, Maeve, Ollie, Konstantin, Phil and Massimo

CUKBS Varsity Team 2013

Yesterday we had a very exciting day when the Cambridge University Kickboxing Society (CUKBS) won, once more, the Varsity Kickboxing tournament against Oxford University Kickboxing.

After a smooth and relaxing trip to Oxford and a quick warm up we found ourselves with a bad start as two of our fighters were considerably over their stated weight and requested to forfeit by the organisers 🙁  We managed to compromise and get to an agreement by shuffling around a couple of our athletes to accommodate their requests.  So we started with one loss without even throwing a single punch that is less than ideal for morale and motivation.

The show started with two a demo fights; one between two Oxford University Kickboxing girls and one with our Maeve Doherty which resulted in a draw and did not contributed to the result.

The two opening fights were however a boost for morale for us all as they saw Tim Williamson, after a shy start, quickly developing a winning strategy based on many front kicks and good combinations of punching securing the first victory.

Charlie Samson also managed to impose his strategy based on long leading hook punches and nice kicks, winning the second point for Cambridge.

Phil Richardson, fighting an opponent 9 Kg heavier, as part of the rearrangement previously mentioned, managed to put together some nice combinations of punches but was simply outscored by an opponent whose strategy relied heavily on his weight advantage.

Kostas Ziovas, at his first external fight, managed to have a fairly balanced fight where his opponent had a reach and height advantage but Kostas compensated with footwork and good guard; at the end of the fight it was difficult to say who the winner was and the judges were of the same opinion, concluding this match with a draw result.

Konstantin Semeniuk, the most experienced fighter in the CUKBS team, took part in this Varsity match following a long period of absence from training due to illness and his performance were not as brilliant as we saw him in the past.  He began fairly slowly allowing his opponent to score a few times but then he increased the pace, started to impose his unique strategy based on fast double kicks with the same leg and scoring many times securing the third point for CUKBS.

Ollie Osunkunle, current vice-president of CUKBS, was in great shape and well prepared for the fight but a slightly taller opponent with an unusual style managed to score more points to Ollie than he managed to score back.  Ollie had a great control of the ring and offered a show that was very pleasant to watch but did not secure a victory.

Draws are no fun; both teams agreed on that.  After a long debated last minute decision we agreed for a rematch for Charlie against his original fighter, 5 Kg lighter than him.  Charlie previously fought over an hours before, all the adrenaline was gone and felt visibly tired; it took him lots of courage to step back into the ring for a deciding match but it was worth the effort.  Following an initial setback where Charlie got a couple strong punches that momentarily put him on the floor (and an official warning was issued for his opponent) he started to reapply his strategy based on long leading punches and kicks while putting maximum effort and concentration in holding a tight guard. Charlie managed to brilliantly win the final match and achieve the victory for the whole team.

It was great to receive, one fight after the other, compliments from both referee and judges about good style and consisted level of control demonstrated by all CUKBS fighters.

Yesterday we saw a great team work that brought the 3rd consecutive Varsity Kickboxing victory for CUKBS.   Congratulations to Maeve, Tim, Charlie, Phil, Kostas, Konstantin and Ollie that together contributed to this victory.  A great thank you to all members of CUKBS, ARUKBC and CARISMA which helped with training and preparation for these fighters as training sessions over the last few weeks were really much geared around this very event.  A super special thanks goes also to Duncan, Georgios, Heley, James and Jarek which all helped and contributed, with their expertise and efforts, to train and prepare these fighters.  Videos of the fights will follow in due course.