Okinawa Plans 40 country, 700 participant International Karate Tournament for the summer of 2018

Okinawa Plans 40 country, 700 participant International Karate Tournament for the summer of 2018

January 17, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

The 1st Okinawa International Karate Tournament will be held in August of 2018 to both solidify Okinawa’s status as the birthplace of Karate, and also to give practitioners and enthusiasts a place to interact. Related to the commemoration of the opening of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan on March 4, the festival is set to take place at the new Kaikan as well as the Okinawa Prefectural Budokan.

Okinawa had previously hosted 4 international Karate and Kobudo tournaments, however these were one-time events. Since this new tournament aims to be a recurring event, it is being dubbed the first. The competition will consist only of “Kata,” and aims to have participants from over 40 countries.

On January 16 at a hotel in Naha, a general assembly was held where an executive committee for the tournament was established. Governor Takeshi Onaga was appointed chairman, and 45 committee members were selected from Karate and Kobudo preservation societies from Okinawa and other prefectures, the Okinawa Traditional Karate Promotion Association, and economic organizations.

At the general assembly an outline for the tournament was announced. The tournament is scheduled to take place from August 1-8 (including extra days). Also, as part of the effort to preserve and pass down traditional Okinawan Karate, it was decided that “Kata” will be written with the traditional character, “型” as opposed to the more modern “形”. Okinawa had previously hosted an international tournament in 2009 that had 600-700 participants from 40 countries, and it is anticipated that this new tournament will be even larger.

Governor Onaga emphasized at the assembly, “I think the international tournament will not only promote Okinawan Karate, but will also become something of great importance. I hope that the tournament will give us a chance to strengthen Okinawa’s role as the birthplace of Karate, as well as assemble Karate lovers from all over the world, allowing us to spread Okinawan Karate worldwide.” He also asked the committee members for their support and cooperation.

As for the importance of the opening of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan, and as part of its promotion, Governor Onaga stated, “We will continue to take many steps to share Okiawan Karate throughout Japan and the World,” stressing the Karate Hall be actively made use of.

The assembly has three goals for the tournament. The first is to create a place for Karate lovers to gather and interact. The second is the preservation and passing down of the technique and spirituality of Okinawan Karate by the pioneers who have systematically kept it alive. The third goal is the promotion of Okinawan Karate and Kobudo looking towards the future.

The second general assembly will be held in April. The second assembly will establish five special committees for judging, demonstrations, general affairs and ceremonies, seminars, and completion. The committees will then set to the task of figuring out the details of the tournament in preparation for the real thing.

There are a big expectations from the Karate community for the opening of the 1st International Tournament. Choko Kiyuna, chairman of the Okinawa Traditional Karate Promotion Association said, “Organizations started with the purpose of preserving and passing down traditional Kata have been increasing. So, I want us to do our best to make sure this tournament is a success.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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