The holiday weekend of the 19th and 20th April 2014, brought together players and teams from all over Europe to compete in the 4th European Tomiki Aikido Network, European Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

This year’s championship was hosted by Eddy Wolput and his Shobukai club members, who did a superb job of organisation to facilitate the smooth running of the competition. The event was staged in the unusual surroundings of the Zuiderpershuis. Once a power house for the old dockland area of Antwerp, it has now been converted into community arts and performance space. The Zuiderperhuis is located in Antwerp’s burgeoning ‘Het Zuid’, known for its nightlife, trendy cafes, restaurants, shops, museums and galleries.

The layout of Zuiderperhuis gave an unusual theatrical backdrop to proceedings, with the audience looking down from banked seating on to the ‘tatami’ stage where the aikido drama unfolded in front of them.

Aikidoka from Belgium, Ireland, Georgia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK made the journey to Antwerp to take part. For the first time this list nations included France, with the entry of a team from Shodokan Paris. I think everyone was pleased that this was an example of a non-sectarian spirit of open competition. The French teams first outing at an ETAN event bore fruit for team member Davide de Lima, who won a Bronze in Men’s Individual Tanto Randori.

The honours in Men’s Individual Tanto Randori also went to the big Russian, Yuri Gluschenko (ITAF-Russia) who won Gold and our own Scott Pearce (Tanseikan-UK) who came second with Silver. Scott fought extremely well in this event, often against taller and more burly opponents.

The Women’s Individual Tanto Randori saw a continuation of the epic tussle between Belgium’s Gitte Wolput and the UK’s Natuley Smalle. This time Gitte managed to pull off victory after a hard fought contest. Gitte won Gold, with Natuley gaining Silver and Yana Kovrihina (Kharkiv-Ukraine) securing Bronze.

The championship was a success for the UK’s Tanseikan team who returned with four Golds, two Silvers and two Bronze. Thanet also came away with a Bronze for Toshu Randori no Kata. Well done to all the UK competitors!