Ryo Kiyuna determined to win gold medal at Tokyo Olympics, “I train 365 days a year”

Ryo Kiyuna determined to win gold medal at Tokyo Olympics, “I train 365 days a year”

Ryo Kiyuna

January 1, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Shun Furukawa

With currently no true rival in the world, Karateka Ryo Kiyuna is considered the Japanese athlete with the best chance of taking home a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While most only the world champion’s face makes its way into the limelight both domestically and abroad, the reality is there are many people who helped along the way.

In high school, Kiyuna never made it to a national championship. Somewhat of a late bloomer, the ability and talent came after lots of training.

“I will train 365 days a year.” This was before he became internationally recognized. It was the promise he made to Ryuei Ryu president Tsuguo Sakumoto when he knocked on his door at the end of junior high school.

That daily regimen of self-discipline and training had continued to this day, and has led to eight-straight All-Japan championships in the individual male kata, and three-straight world championships in the same category.

However, “the loss of strength, power coming and going, is something I am still working on,” he commented, showcasing his drive. Whether it is weight training, or thinking about where to look while on the floor and how to use his hands, he is an insatiable student of the art.

There is no quitting when it comes to delving even further into the profound kata.

Tsuguo Sakumoto (left), who leads the Ryuei Ryu Karate Association, training with Ryo Kiyuna (right). December 12, at the Sakumoto Karate Academy in Naha (Photograph by Moriaki Kise)

Sakumoto said of Kiyuna’s strengths, “He never lets up,” and noted that when he starts his kata in training, the dojo is instantly enveloped in a unique energy.

The 29-year-old’s embodiment of Ryuei Ryu’s characteristic “one step two fist” style and the essence of combining offense and defense has the look of a clear favorite as champion.

There are seven months until the Olympics. Until then, it seems that Kiyuna plans on a daily life that consists only of the strict internal battle to see just how far he can push the style and quality of the kata.

“I want to keep training with my sights set on the heights achieved by [Sakumoto] Sensei.” There is no hubris or carelessness.

There is only the training needed to reach the winner’s podium at the Olympics. While that is in the ]]corner of his eye, the focus is still on achieving the supreme kata.

Ryo Kiyuna: Born July 12, 1990 in Okinawa City. He began karate at age 5, and has won Japan’s national karate championship for 8-straight years since 2012, and won 3 consecutive world championships, in 2014, 2016, and 2018.

He has not lost an international competition since February 2018, and in 2019 he won the Asian Cup for the 4th-straight time.

He graduated from Konan High School and Okinawa International University. He is currently at the Ryuei Ryu Karate Association. 170 cm tall, 28 kg, age 29.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

Go To Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]