Seventh heaven for Karate kings

On Saturday, Cambridge University Karate Club carved its name into Oxbridge sporting history with an emphatic 179-41 annihilation of the Dark Blues to record a seventh consecutive victory in as many years.

The competition started with individual kata alternating between the Cambridge and Oxford teams. In a performance typical of the composure, strength and speed for which CUKC is renowned, Cambridge secured first, second, third, fourth and sixth places in the men's and first and third places in the women's kata. Special mention must go to Matt Houlden, who took top spot in men's kata with a powerful rendition of Enpi, and Tasha Nussbaum, who for the second year running blew Oxford out of the water with an incredibly dynamic performance of Anan, scoring 20.3 out of a possible 21 points.

Three members from each team then carried out a synchronized team kata. The men's team, comprising President Matthew Benjamin, Men's Captain Jerome Singh and Quang Ha, pulled off a near-perfectly coordinated Enpi. The women's team of Caroline Tanner, Tasha Nussbaum and Sarah Latty duplicated the men's efforts with an excellently poised execution of the kata Seinechin. By the end of the kata round, the men's scores stood at 61-9 and the women's at 34-20.

At this point, numerical advantage meant that the men only had to win one out of ten fights and the women two out of six to secure the overall Varsity match. Not content with such a narrow margin of success, both the men and women forged ahead in the kumite round to record a triumph of unparalleled margins. The men's fighting opened with Matthew Benjamin, who defeated Oxford's captain in a flurry of devastating punches. Newcomers Quang Ha and Ivo Timoteo added to the points total in a blend of rapid movement and precise attacks before the Light Blues captain, Jerome Singh, stepped up to the mat and overcame his opponent with a sweep-head punch combination that instantly ended the fight by the award of an ippon. The final member of the men's squad, fresher Lawrence Paleschi, fought with great determination and character and was unlucky to lose his fight by a marginal points decision. By the end of the first round of men's kumite, Cambridge's men's squad had won 4 out of 5 fights and secured an unassailable lead in the overall points.

Not to be outdone, CUKC's women's contingent of Caroline Tanner, Tasha Nussbaum and Megan Wilson, came roaring out of the blocks and won all three of their fight. They relied on fleet-footedness and perfectly timed counter-attacks to defeat their Oxford counterparts. The second round of kumite was now a mere formality, but the men won three and drew two while the women completed a total whitewash.

In the end, Cambridge secured victory on all fronts, winning the men's and women's trophies and the overall Enoeda Cup for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year. The feat is doubly impressive considering that the vast majority of the Cambridge squad were Varsity debutants and that the margin of victory was the largest on record.

Jerome Singh

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