CUKC were at their ferocious best in Sheffieldmillie morgan

After a hugely successful BUCS Nationals contest up in Sheffield for Light Blues across the sporting spectrum between February 14th and 16th, we catch up with the victorious teams and get the low down on their success. Here, we hear from Cambridge University Karate Club (CUKC) President Millie Morgan.

Tell us about yourself and your involvement in the Karate Club?

I joined CUKC last year as a fresher, having done karate for 10 years at my home club. Last year’s varsity competition was my first ever karate competition, and since then I’ve competed for Cambridge in Student Nationals and BUCS Nationals. I found the club to be such a friendly space that I wanted to become more involved in, so last year I ran for president and was luckily elected - since then I’ve been working with a brilliant committee to increase engagement within the club, particularly amongst women, to whom combat sports can be pretty intimidating. This has been a huge success - last year we had 4 BUCS competitors, and this year we have 18, 8 of which were women.

What makes Cambridge Karate Club so special?

First of all, we’re Cambridge’s most successful sports club, with 13 (soon to be 14) consecutive varsity wins. We’re super inclusive of people with all abilities, including complete beginners to karate, who can earn their blackbelt within the space of a three year degree if they train hard. We have a lot of student-lead teaching as well, which enables our members to learn from a variety of styles of karate, and tonnes of opportunities to compete for the club, even for the novices in our club. Our community is really welcoming, and we have a bunch of socials, many of which aim to defy the usual sports club stereotype of pressuring members into heavy drinking.

How did you first get involved in Karate?

My mum did Taekwondo before she had me, and when she and my younger brother decided to take up karate, my mum encouraged me to give it a go too so that she could rest easy when I got older knowing that I could defend myself. Now that I am older, if someone attacked me on the street I’d run screaming just like anyone else, but I’m still glad mum got me into karate because I grew up learning so much about discipline and spatial awareness, and I think its really shaped both my fitness and my confidence.

How is the Karate contest organised at the Nationals?

It spans across two days. The first day consists of Team Kata, where three individuals perform a set sequence of moves (a kata) in perfect synchronicity, before performing the ‘bunkai’ (the applications of the moves in the kata) of the kata. Then followed the Individual Kata competition, which is what I competed in, and involves performing a kata  to a panel of judges who then give you a score, kind of like strictly come dancing but fiercer. There were three rounds, and your score determined heather you progressed or not, and you had to perform a different kata in each round.

That afternoon was the Team Kumite event - a team of 3 women or 4 men spar individually with another team. Each match is 90seconds long, and one point is scored for a clear punch or kick to the head or body, and three points are scored for a kick to the head. The team which wins the most fights wins overall. The second day consisted of all the Individual Kumite events, which were divided into novice/senior categories depending on the colour of your belt, as well as weight categories. The scoring system was the same as for team kumite, but with three minute matches. The winner of each match progressed onto the next round. 

In what capacity did you compete?

I personally competed in female senior individual kata, but we had competitions in all the categories.

How did CUKC get on?!

Dao Qian earned a bronze medal in men’s individual intermediate kata, Danielle Ball got bronze in women’s individual senior heavy weight kumite, and Alex Philip, Putu Agus Khorisantono and Dan Hopper came away with a bronze medal in team kata. We were really gassed about these results since the standard of the whole competition was really high.  


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What was the spiciest encounter for the team?

We had a few pretty spicy encounters: Beth Noble put up a brave fight against a competitor from last summer’s Youth Olympics; Olivia Lavigne faced the winner of her category in her first round, who had seen 6 BUCS’ already, and Olivia was the only person who faced her in the rounds who stood her ground for the whole three minute fight - the winner maxed out on points for all the other competitors she faced; and our men’s captain Putu Agus Khorisantono was knocked out in the men’s heavy weight kumite by an old friend from the Edinburgh club, where Putu used to train. 

How did you celebrate your fantastic results?

After two 10 hour days of competing, the only way to celebrate was by napping on the coach journey back to Cambridge! We’ve also got Varsity quickly approaching so we’ve all been training hard for that - no time for celebration! But we have a big formal dinner planned for the end of term to celebrate all our victories once the competing is all out of the way, and we went out for a classic Pizza Express on the Saturday night of BUCS as a celebration of our first day of competing and an excuse to carb-load for day 2.

Full results available here