A bow for the HYUNDAI H1
First of all from the Kamae Karate Club, situated at Bakenkop school in Wierdapark, we would like to thank Imperial and Hyundai for sponsoring us with an amazing vehicle, the spacious, luxurious and safe Hyundai H1 wagon.
Our trip began in Centurion at 04:00 on 5 October 2011 where we departed towards our first opportunity to stretch our legs, Kroonstad. Etienne was the designated driver and I must add I have never been a passenger with such an experienced driver as Etienne. When we arrived in Kroonstad to refuel the vehicle I was amazed that my body was not numb or stiff at all, it was then that I realized how comfortable the Hyundai H1 was and how much space the vehicle had.
From Kroonstad we drove to Bloemfontein and from there our next stop was in a little town called Colesberg. There we quickly realized that we are now in the Cape Province, confirmed by the accent of the locals. We stocked up on water and snacks and continued our journey on the dead straight road through the Karoo. Our last stop prior to our destination was Graaff-Reinet before we arrived in Uitenhage. We punched the street address in Etienne's GPS and listened attentively to the directions as her voice guided us this time correctly to our guesthouse, we soon learned that the GPS lady was more of a Delilah than anything else...
Our guesthouse was fortunately situated across from the venue where the South African Shotokan National Competition was held. We decided as proud South African's we are going to braai and enjoyed our first night in town beside a cosy fire.
The next morning after what was probably the best night's sleep we all have had in a long time we went to the windy but energetic city of Port Elizabeth. All we had on our agenda for that Thursday was the table officials and Referee training hosted by Kamae's Head Instructor and Chief referee for SASKA (South African Shotokan Karate-do Academy) Sensei Alta Venter (6th Dan). We arrived in Port Elizabeth at around 09:30 and went straight to Kings beach and walked on the famous Pier situated on the main beach. Enjoying the salty breeze, we had a delicious breakfast at one of the Restaurant's shouldering the ocean and observing the vessels entering the Harbour. Close by was the mall where we strolled around and rode "Go-Karts" as it was beneficial to our increasing excitement and stress of competing in the Nationals the next day. The training took about two and a half hours and as nightfall crept upon us we made the mistake of trusting our GPS to take us back to Uitenhage. This was the start of an interesting night drive to our guesthouse as the GPS took us through the Townships areas. Fast food was our dinner for the evening before we got into bed.
D-day: On Friday 07 October 2011 we all got ready for the purpose of our tour and some of us got loud and some like myself got really quiet, trying to deal with our nerves in our own way. A referee briefing was conducted by Sensei Alta as we were reminded that we are not just competing but we have an important job to do as referees to ensure a fair and successful tournament as the Nation is watching us from the crowd. As per norm the referees and competitors did a march on and opened the competition with some speeches from the tournament organiser and the SASKA Chief Instructor, Master Koos Burger (8th Dan) followed by a traditional bow.
The Team Kata was held first and Sensei Carel and his team members obtained a Gold medal. Following the Team Kata was the seniors and veteran division for Kata where I obtained a Silver Medal in the senior division. Sensei Carel then won a silver medal in the veteran division. The competition progressed and our focus was now on judging the children's divisions, ensuring the best Karate-ka became South African Champions. The first day was a massive success but the Competition was far from over knowing the Kumite (fighting) was the following day.
After a successful day we went home and enjoyed conversations of our individual experiences regarding the Competition and indulged yet again with the likes of meat, salad and couscous alongside the red hot coals from the braai.
The final day arrived and we were ready as ever for a hard day of fighting. Again the senior and veteran divisions were first and Sensei Carel won a silver medal for fighting but not without some badly bruised ribs. I won a bronze medal in my division. Etienne was next to compete and he had some hard hits laid upon his jaw and throat but he persevered and showed good fighting spirit as one of his opponents whom he was fighting for third and fourth place led by two points, with only thirty seconds left on the clock. He made an impressive comeback and scored three points, wining his opponent and placing 3rd ensuring a bronze medal. All and all we did very well, receiving in total six medals between us four, and as for the Kamae Karate Club a total of seven medals between the six competitors.
Bruised and injured and after yet another successful day of Karate we went to the guesthouse with smiles, aches and pains. Our plan was to depart early Sunday morning at 04:00 but after a wise discussion we decided we were going to drive back home that evening, taking into consideration that we have enough drivers and that the roads will be very busy the next day due to the end of the school holidays. Departing at 21:30 Etienne took the stick and drove to Graaff-Reinet, where I took the grave yard shift driving from Graaff-Reinet to Colesberg. When I started to drive the Lootsberg mountain pass, I must say that at first I was a little anxious taking on the sharp turns through the hills and valleys of the pass at 01:00 in the morning. I quickly realized that the Hyundai H1 was more than capable to keep us safe on the road and I really enjoyed taking on the demanding "S" shaped corners with only the bright stars as company. Etienne took over from me just before Bloemfontein and we had a well deserved breakfast in Kroonstad. Soon we were in Pretoria and arrived in Centurion with our chins up and proud of our accomplishments.
Thank you Sensei Alta Venter, Etienne van Zyl, Carel van der Merwe and Tiaan Smit for an amazing tour and your positive attitudes throughout the entire tour and we praise the Lord to guard us safely home. Yet again I want to stress how grateful we are for the Hyundai H1 vehicle sponsored by Hyundai and Imperial. I can only assume that the Hyundai H1 represents the quality and precision of the Company and we are all very impressed.
Sensei Graham Chamberlain