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Really Tough Guys -- Why?

Shihan Bobby Lowe recently returned to Hawaii from Japan where he attended the 9th World Karate Tournament of the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan. He was kind enough to give me a tournament journal -- the highest quality such journal I have ever seen! It looks like the catalog for luxury cars or expensive handbags. Full color, glossy, even metallic covers.

But what interested me most was the listing of the top 8 competitors. I understand that this was on open tournament with no weight categories. Almost 200 competitors from around the world participated. The top places went to competitors from the following countries:

  1. Brazil
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Armenia
  4. Russia
  5. Russia
  6. Spain
  7. Brazil
  8. Japan
Japan was 8th! For many years, you would expect that Japan would dominate a tournament, particularly one held in Japan. But these results show just how strong international Karate has become. You might notice that the United States was not even in the top 8 (while Brazil and Russia each had two of the top spots).

Why is this? The reason is obvious, these particular competitors are really tough. People who practice Karate in these countries train extremely hard. They probably are not spending time playing video games and going to movies -- they are training!

I recall reading that Choki Motobu mentioned to a student that you would expect that there would be better fighters in countries such as the United States, because its population is so much greater than Japan's (or Okinawa's). With so many Karate students around the world, you would expect that international students would do well.

Karate is not based on country. It is based on hard work and dedication.

One of my good friends in my style of Shorin-Ryu lives in Slovenia. I have always been impressed by how hard he trains. When we met in Okinawa earlier this year, I might have mentioned to him that it took me 12 hours or so to get to Okinawa from Hawaii. It had taken him an his students 3 days to get to Okinawa from Slovenia.

I have it easy in Hawaii. There is no snow. It is warm all year long. In other parts of the world, dojo can freeze in the winters and be unbearably hot in the summers.

When it is so easy to train, we take it for granted. I have a feeling that the international competitors in the Kyokushinkaikan tournament take nothing for granted and train harder than most of us could ever imagine.

Of course if you have read this blog for a while, you know that I am not a fan of tournaments. I am a big fan of hard training and respect students and instructors around the world who dedicate themselves to rigorous Karate practice.


Charles C. Goodin