“Make sure you do it with speed, power, proper stance and facial expressions. All the best.” You’re probably wondering who said this and why. This was my Shihan (karate instructor) encouraging me before I went onto the mat to compete. It was a karate tournament, the 9th National Shotokan Independence Cup Karate Open Championship. More than 1,000 students were participating, and the moments were tense, yet all of us were jumpy and excited.
From our school, CMR National Public School, around 10 students took part: Illa Rigo, Ritisha, Suhas, Tridev, Trivikram, Devesh and myself Suma Sri, all trained by the same coach. There were 6 bouts placed with judges judging several pupils representing various styles. Each bout was a mat, it was a thick, red, 8×8 metre mat with a blue square in the middle. The air was filled with anticipation and energy. Hundreds of students, coaches, judges. and parents gathered, observing the contestants’ every move.
There were three divisions in the tournament – Individual Katta, Team Katta, and Kumite (sparring). Katta is a karate term for ‘imaginary fight’. Kattas are judged on power, stance, and speed. It was all about perfection. Each style had its unique moves, which made it much more challenging. Few styles had advanced moves which easily made them the winners, but the most outstanding were the students who did it with such determination and perfection. Each move of each contestant had so much determination and power, containing all their years of hard work and every last part of their energy. Kumite on the other hand is where two karateka (karate practitioners) fight against each other, aiming to score points by landing strikes on specific target areas of their opponent’s body. The goal is to demonstrate skill, speed, timing, and control while maintaining proper technique and form.
Some of us participants, mostly me, felt extra pressure because it was our first time entering a karate tournament. This tournament was a great opportunity for us to learn how we might improve our skills. Furthermore, we gained new techniques from other competitors, which greatly improved our performance. It was surprising to see so much dedication and hard work put in by each contestant. In my own experience, several of them have shown an outstanding level of discipline and skill. If you’re a karateka and are reluctant to participate in tournaments, I suggest you step out of your comfort zone and participate. I guarantee that regardless of whether you win or lose, you will be able to learn a lot from the experience. Even if you don’t practice karate but are interested in it, you are welcome to attend these competitions
Grade 8, CMRNPS