From January 11th to 13th the second edition of the ITF Elite Stage & Competition took place in the beautiful La Nucia, Spain. This event, coordinated by Sabum Paco Ferrando & Grand Master Wim Bos with the support of the AETF under the leadership of Master Leo Oros Duek, was attended by over 300 athletes, instructors and masters from 15 countries. The concept of the event is to offer the opportunity for our ITF athletes, coaches, instructors and masters to meet outside the pressure of Elite championships, to train together, share ideas, learn from each other, enjoy some social time together and to build bonds and friendships through the shared passion for ITF Taekwon-Do.
On Thursday the 11th the event kicked off with the opening ceremony and a special surprise warm-up from a local bachata group. As the bachata group entered the hall the atmosphere came to life and all participants joined in the fun and dance with immediate smiles on their faces.
This was followed by the first training session led by Master Stephen Ryan and Grandmaster Bos to the group of over 300. This first session was dynamic and focused on exercises to develop balance, core strength for kicking, kicking exercises and applications of fundamental movements for self-defence. In the evening, the participants could spend their free time chatting and enjoying a meal and drink together
On the second day the group was divided into three sessions running in parallel, the instructor group of 4th degree and above enjoyed a training session led by Grandmaster Bos & Grandmaster Per Andresen on patterns Yong-Gae, Ul-Gi and Moon-Moo. The session was informative and active, participants were guided through the patterns step by step and practised the application of the movements with emphasis on realism, power and performance as well as the training secrets of Taekwon-Do. Participants were encouraged to ask questions and discuss the finer details of each pattern.
Tyra Barada, multiple World and European Champion led the first sparring session, teaching drills and exercises that left the participants in no doubt as to why she has excelled at the elite level, with excellent drills to develop reaction, timing and kicking ability. Side by side with this Sabum Marielle Lind, world champion from Norway and Master Jose Diego from Spain led a class on the colour belt patterns up to Hwa-Rang. This session focused on the key aspects to performance, with emphasis on how to perform with power, good timing, use of reaction force and how to use the body mass correctly.
Following Tyra’s session, her coach and father, Master Tomaz Barada, multi time world champion and elite coach led the next sparring session, in a typical high temp, high energy fashion with participants working up a sweat in drills focused on good timing, reaction speed, how to develop good conditioning, and useful drills for free sparring development.
After lunch participants were again divided into three groups with Master Coooley teaching a session on self defence, guiding the class through how to defend various chokes, grabs, and strikes progressing from standing to the ground. Participants agreed this was a very useful addition to the Elite stage programme.
In parallel to this World champion, Sabum Timothy Bos led a free sparring training session teaching many of the drills that he uses in preparation for major championships, focusing on movement, countering, drills for attacking and building scores and various scenarios which take place in a free sparring competition. Following this Master Vatrano from Argentina led a class on free sparring and showed many useful exercises used in the South American continent which he has used to train champions from Argentina.
Master Diego and Ms Lind continued teaching the patterns from Choong-Moo up to Juche with many useful exercises on how to develop dynamic kicking and execution of the patterns for competition.
To finish the day, Master Tomaz Barada led a session on free sparring for all participants with a lot of fun exercises which had people smiling and enjoying as they sweated and continued to work hard to finish out the day.
Saturday the 13th saw the final day of the Elite Stage, after two days of training the participants were still buzzing for more and they were not left disappointed.
Master Cooley led the first sparring session with a focus on exercises to develop coordination, explosive power and strength as well as countering and decision making. Following this Yassine Talhaoui from Spain took charge of a sparring session teaching many useful exercises which showed how to develop the speed, kicking ability and fast reaction time he is well known for. The session took place in a typical high energy and enjoyable atmosphere.
Patterns training continued with Master Ryan leading a session on patterns Sam-il to Choi-Yong, covering all the key aspects to effective performance, while Master Vatrano reviewed patterns Chon-Ji to Choong-Moo going back over all the fundamental movements and emphasising the correct way to move and rhythm.
Grandmaster Bos and Grandmaster Andresen continued with the instructor training session teaching patterns, Se-Jong, So-San and Tong-il in detail to the large group of 5th degree and above.
At the lunch break the whole group of over 300 were treated to a special lunch with a huge Paella cooked for all to enjoy together and to soak up the Spanish hospitality. This has already become a tradition of the Elite Stage and something everyone eagerly looks forward to.
After a wonderful lunch, the competition aspect of the event took place, coordinated by Grandmaster Bos and facilitated by the many umpires, presenters and coaches present. All participants had over two hours of free sparring and patterns competition with participants grouped by age and ability but also with the opportunity to spar with many of the European and World Champions present or to perform their pattern alongside champions. Following each match the participants could receive feedback from the experienced coaches, masters & grandmasters present. This part of the Elite Stage took place in a competitive but friendly and supportive environment, allowing participants time to gain huge experience and kick start their competitive year without the pressure of a major championship and with the support of plenty of feedback and learning.
The Elite Stage came to a close on the evening of Saturday the 13th of January in the presence of the full AETF Board of Directors and the AETF President as well as the local mayor. The Mayor gave encouraging words of support and welcomed all present to La Nucia, while the AETF President gave his congratulations to all involved, especially the coordinator; Grandmaster Bos & Sabum Paco Ferrando and the team of presenters.
All present agreed the 2nd Edition of the Elite Stage was a huge success, with exciting and enjoyable training with some of the best athletes, coaches and Masters in the world, time with friends, a beautiful atmosphere and the backdrop of the wonderful facilities in La Nucia.
We are already looking forward to the 3rd Edition of the Elite stage, which will take place from January 9th to 11th 2025, follow @itfelitedstage on Instagram to keep up to date and go to https://itfelitestage.pro/ for info on how to register.