Inaugural karate events to be held at Tokyo Olympics

Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 9:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - One new sport in this year’s 2021 Olympic Games is karate, which will debut in the country where martial arts originated.

There are two Olympic karate events- kata, or forms, and kumite, or sparring.

Seth Degnan, a sixth-degree black belt, owns Kicks Unlimited and has traveled to Japan twice to train.

“We visited 9 or 10 different dojos in the area and practiced four different styles of empty hand karate on top of our weapons system of kobodo,” explained Degnan.

Degnan says the forms seen in the Olympics will be a routine of blocks, kicks, stances and strikes that represent a certain system or style. There are a variety of factors into what goes into the judges’ scoring.

“It’s going to be graded more on the ability of their technique, the power that they use, the perfection of their technique, their stances, their balance, their athleticism, all that is going to get rolled into one and scored accordingly,” said Degnan.

He also explained what makes kata different from other aspects of karate.

“There was nothing representing the empty hand aspect, the non-combative, the art of the martial arts, and that’s what the kata is going to do,” he said.

Mathiam Mbow, a fifth degree black belt who owns Silver Lining Taekwon-Do in Middleton, explained more about karate kumite, or sparring.

“In kumite you’re facing an opponent and you’re just testing your skills, going as fast as you can, as hard as you can,” explained Mbow.

Mbow told that after matches, athletes may even give each other pointers sometimes.

“So it’s like a camaraderie, it helps people come together,” said Mbow.

Both martial arts schools work with students of all ages, with some being as young as four years old. Degnan explained that Kata can be especially useful to teach to the younger students to help them practice focus.

Mbow said for his students, it’s important that they learn life lessons along the way.

“The main goal for me with my students is to let them know if you work hard for this, you’re going to be successful, but that same attitude is applicable in all avenues of life,” said Mbow.

Mbow hopes the students can learn those values as they go through their training.

The first karate Olympic event will be men and women’s 67kg kumite at 8 p.m. Aug. 4.

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