From Friday 26th through to Sunday 28th April 2019, the Pencak Silat Federation of the United Kingdom (PSFUK) sent teams to the 24th Belgian Open Championships held in Schoten and brought back a gold and bronze trophy in the Tanding (fighting) categories. The largest championships held in Europe and open to clubs as well as national teams from across the world, this year marked a first in the Belgium Open for the attendance of some countries, including the Philippines.
Over a hundred competitors hailed from the following nations:
Another landmark was the inclusion of the Seni (Artistic Performance) category alongside Tanding, a first in the history of the Belgium Open.
The Opening Ceremony was marked on Friday evening by speeches from officials across the European Pencak Silat Federation (EPSF) as well as dignitaries from the Indonesian Embassy. Bapak Aidunal Al Rashid, President of the EPSF, praised Ludo Pieters and the hosts, The Belgium Pencak Silat Bond for their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to the promotion of pencak silat in Europe and beyond. The Belgium Open was then underway with the first competitions being in the Male and Female Tunggal (Solo Artistic) performances.
The UK were represented in this category by two debut competitors, Mouna Ali from Gerak Ilham and Gentiana Krusha.
Watching strong execution by seasoned athletes from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, the ladies managed to hold their own with their performances at the end of the night.
Mouna finished two seconds early with an overall score of 429, placing sixth out of eight, whilst Gentiana finished at three minutes sharp and scored 419, one point away from tying with Austria. Despite not winning any medals, the ladies gave a performance they could be proud of. The winners of the Female Tunggal category were current World Champion from Indonesia.
Team UK were represented in Male Tanding by a large team from Silat Persaudaraan Setia Hari Terane (PSHT) and Silat Gerak Ilham.
Djibrill Aoudou of Silat Gerak Ilham, demonstrated his skill and experience when he beat Holland in the quarter finals and Germany in the semi finals of the Open weight category. Facing France in the finals, Djibrill built up a significant lead in the first 2 rounds with takedowns and scissors against his opponent, Thibaut Lafoy of Al-Haq. Despite sustaining a major injury before the last bout, Djibrill maintained his composure and his lead and went on to secure the gold trophy, with a victory of 5 flags to none.
The PSHT contingent brought first-time competitors who fought valiantly in their first international competition. Joao Francisco Marques Correia, Class A, fought very well but lost to Indonesia. He still managed to secure a Bronze trophy. Gaspar Flavio Belo, Class F, beat Holland in the first fight but lost to another Dutch competitor in his second. Other competitors who fought for the UK included Ponciano Antonio Correia, Adolfino Dos Santos Ximenes, Joao Jose Philipe and Jesuino Imanuel Dos Santos and finally, Bonifacio Filipe Gusmao.
In an exciting and busy weekend, the UK team displayed honour, sportsmanship and heart. The newer athletes have gained invaluable experience.