With over 300 entries, (adults and Juniors 1998-1999) the European Championship in Georgia will be almost as big as it was last year in Poland. -and that was a remarkably high number of contenders. This will also for many of the profiles be the first international tournament since the World Championship 2015. New weight categories do we also have, and that bring some new set ups among the fighters..
Georgia, being one of the nations in the EKO sector that is placed far East together with countries as Azerbaijan and Armenia. And eastern Europe countries are greatly represented in this tournament. These nations have the capacity to fill their places in each category. Their top level are beyond any doubt.
We are witness a new generation of fighters coming up and establish themselves. And it is great to see that the future looks bright. That said, there are also a very, very big task to fill. Thinking of those great profiles we have, and their job to develop, profiling and promote full contact Shinkyokushin Karate.
New categories, new set ups.
From now the heaviest category for men will be +85 kg. Practical this mean that we will see fighters from -90 and +90 – old system, in this category now. This mean it could easily be ready for some tactics, thinking of the weight. And a factor could be from the lighter fighters to bring more speed in to the fights. We think that a weight difference about 10-15 kg will be “normal” in many cases.
+80 kg, 26 fighters.
At the time it is 26 fighters in the category. last year it had 20, during the +90 kg category. In the line up we have several well known names, and many of them have been on the EC podium before. Lithuania with Vytautas Cėpla and Edgard Sečinski. Both with EC medals, Edgard Sečinski with 2nd and 3rd place (-90) and Vytautas Cėpla with to times 2nd place (-80) Both now in the heaviest category. ⇐ pufasfoto.lt
The change of categories sometimes matter and sometimes not, thinking about Vytautas Cėpla for an example, moving from the middleweight to this category in one year. On paper two categories, in practice only 5 kg difference. Both with the capacity to reach the podium.Their experience are gathered from several tournaments and championship. And that from the very best level. World Championship and World Cup to set thing in perspective.
Poland do have one of the favorites in Maciej Mazur. With him Mateusz Kaptur, young promising fighter that reached the final in the U22 EC, and became 2nd in 2015. Mazur do have what it takes to reach the top. Reaching the 8th place in the World Championship last year, only loosing to the world champion Shimamoto tells us the level he possess. Runner up last year after a hard final against Valeri Dimitrov, Bulgaria.
⇐Photos by Sensei Peter Sztencla
Valeri Dimitrov, Bulgaria will be a favorite in this category. The most winning champion ever in the EC will stand in the way for any challenger. But in a category with 26 fighters, cup system and draw – every fight will count. And in this category it will cost to defeat heavier opponents. Dimitrov`s techniques and his unique style of fighting has done it before, will it again? Missing from this years EC, Vasil Vangelov Bulgaria. Vangelov being the runner up for the last three years in the EC.
Also some of the northern Europe countries have strong fighters that would be a force to reckon with. Sweden and Denmark do have traditions and the skills to reach the podium. Danish Brian Jakobsen prove once again at the last year World Tournament his great skills, even being away from the EC podium for some years.
Jakobsen has all ready been at the podium this year, taking a good 2nd place at the Diamond Cup 2016. Team mate, young and talented Fady Allan, will be the second Danish fighter, coming from U22 with a 3rd place 2015. Same year that he won Danish Open -90 category.
Sweden`s “Big Man” Simon Pålsson will be a challenge for any one. Strong and powerful, but have lost against fighters as Mazur, Jakobsen and Sečinski on previous occasions. Team mate Fredrik Johansson, usually fights i the -90, will be one of those fighters that could advance, having the toughness and lighter weight.
Romanian fighter with two 2nd places 2013/14, Dorin Margarint. Margarint will also be a hard nut to crack. And he has good damage in his techniques. He has gone the distance with the best, and will be a “dark horse” in the line up. Proven to reach the top, so the day will give us the answers where he will be placed.
A little more “unnamed” would be Anatolii Zhuravel, Ukraine – U22 Champion 2015, and giving a very strong World Tournament. Jean-Paul Jacquot , France. Showing good results lately in several open tournaments, and member of a French team that`s looking stronger than ever.
…more to come in the lighter divisions..