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Karate is back!

The Tokyo Olympics will be upon us in 2020, and I am especially excited.  At Kakehashi Sports, our mission is to help build interest and grow a fan base to the sports culture in Japan.  Karate, one of the biggest signature Japanese martial arts will finally, FINALLY, become an Olympic event.  With the added global exposure, Karate will be visible to spectators on a global scale and we feel like this will help to bridge that interest, which is part of our mission.

Karate has had different impressions over the years.  Ranging from high speed offensive attacks in Kenpo (like Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson), to the grueling full contact style of Kyokushin (like Andy Hug), and to the precision striking of Shotokan (like Lyoto and Chinzo Machida), there are many different styles of Karate.  For the Olympics, traditional Karate kumite rules will be used.

There is high emphasis on speed and technique, with punches primarily focused on straight punches.  Kumite competitions, which is sparring, are judged by clean hits rather than knockdowns.  It resembles very much like a fencing competition, with a lot of darting movements in and out and lightning fast strikes to score points.  This is only half of what we will see in Karate however…

Perhaps even more than Kumite, the part of Karate that I am looking forward to will be the kata portion.  Katas are the derivatives of all movements in Karate, involving sequences of moves that combine offense and defense.  What makes katas riveting is that watching them being performed, it feels like there is a story being expressed through their actions.  Bassai-Dai, for example, has movements where there should be an emphasis of crashing forward, which tells the story of how a soldier would bash through enemy defenses in a castle.  There is a flow, rhythm, and mindset that all are put together in to the kata performance.

Rika Usami
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Rika Usami, pictured above, is the current kata champion.  You can find one of her best kata performances here.

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