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By Jonathan Portlock

A martial arts class scooped 27 medals at an international tournament in Houston, Texas.

The nine medallists, who practise the Korean martial art kuk sool won, won in a variety of age groups and levels at the event on Saturday, October 9.

Club members were also able to train with the discipline’s masters at the kuk sool won world championships, which attracted nearly 1,000 competitors.

The youngest competitor, Tallulah Bowden, who won gold for sparring in the U8s category, hopes in November to become the youngest black belt in Surrey.

Lee Rawlings, a 34-year-old business manager, won a bronze medal at the competition, barely a year after he started lessons in kuk sool won.

Mr Rawlings, now a brown belt, said: “It’s not common to have got so far in kuk sool won in such a short time, but it’s down to the amount of time I’ve spent training over the past year.

“I’m going to classes most nights of the week – I’ve really thrown myself into it.”

Mr Rawlings stumbled upon the martial art after he made a bet with the manager of the Swan Inn pub, Claygate, that he could beat him in an 100m sprint.

While training one evening, he spotted a group of children in the black kuk sool won uniforms and asked them more about the martial art.

Although he lost the £50 bet – his opponent was nine years younger than him – he claims taking up the discipline has transformed his life.

Philip Bowden, Vicki Barker, Stan Bannister, Max Bowden, Dominic Lowcock, Rabb Bannister and principal instuctor James Barker also won medals.

Mr Barker said: “Many of these students have entered tournaments before, but competing against a higher calibre of martial artists was tough and to win so many medals is outstanding.

“Seeing every competitor win at least one medal was amazing, but the respectful conduct shown by all of them when competing made it an even more worthwhile achievement.

“All the students also had the opportunity to train with the masters at the international HQ in Houston, which was an absolute honour.”

The club, which also runs classes in Oxshott and Great Bookham, was placed fourth in the European championships earlier this year, with more than 40 competitors winning 65 medals, including 14 golds.

Members of the club have now set their sights on the UK championships in Liverpool next month.

The club is taking on new students and anyone interested should contact James Barker on 07973 173892.

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