Competitors from 17 nations travelled to Malta over the weekend of 12th and 13th November to take part in this year’s World Martial Kombat Federation (WMKF) Golden Cup World Championship. Nations represented at the WMKF this time included Malta Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Armenia, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia, Ireland, Venezuela, Greece, Argentina (next year’s host nation) as well as England and Scotland.
The Cottonera Sports Complex in Cospicua played host to this annual competition for the second time with competitors of all ages enrolled in more than 700 categories ranging from forms and weapons displays, to light and full contact kickboxing bouts. Founded by 7th Dan Taekwondo Master and Bodyguard Lee Sansum and the Federation’s general secretary Gino Vitrano, the WMKF is open to practitioners of all styles.
A grand opening ceremony in the true tradition of big spectacular sporting events marked the occasion starting with a procession and performance by the traditional Maltese guard. This was followed by an impressive Lion Dance honouring guests and competitors courtesy of the Nemea Wushu group from Italy, whilst Team England dazzled spectators with an array of martial arts techniques that would be put to effective use later in the competition.
The event also featured special guests including actors and martial arts champions Silvio Simac and Lee Charles (who also competed), president of the World Jiu Jitsu Federation the legendary Giacomo Spartico Bertoletti and the WMKF’s technical director, actress and martial arts champion Zara Phythian who also served on the forms competition judging panel. The ceremony concluded in a similarly spectacular fashion in which it started with some extraordinary breaking skills from Master Matias Molinari.
The forms events provided a range of colourful acrobatic displays of classical wushu and traditional Korean and Japanese katas that make martial arts just as much about skill and performance as it is about combat. The weapons forms provided the most variety in these categories with competitors displaying amazing skills with the Sai, Kama, Nunchakus, Katana, spear and staff. As teams wowed judges with their skills in forms, other areas saw competition of a more combative kind.
Whether it was point fighting, light contact continuous, or full contact the kickboxing matches provided some intense yet friendly competition particularly between England and Scotland. Perhaps looking to make up for England’s 3-0 win at Wembley, Scotland (under the direction of Olympic Taekwondo athlete Damon Sansum) looked determined to win as many medals from their old rivals as possible, whilst England (coached by kickboxing champion Owen King) fought with equal determination to the same end. Both teams certainly dominated the top two positions on the podium. What was more prevalent in these contests was the fierce determination of the competitors combining strong cerebral tactics with skilful, dynamic execution of classical spinning round and hook kicks.
The competitive spirit was certainly present at the Cottonera Sports complex but it soon turned into mutual respect and friendship. With excellent organisation and monitoring, the World Martial Kombat Federation was a fun, action-packed two day extravaganza that brought the best of martial arts to the island of Malta.
There were plenty of victories and some disappointments (such is the yin-yang nature of life) but overall the teams gave their all, impressing the judges as well as inspiring the supporters.