As always, we are impressed looking at the full-contact fighters that enter the tatami over and over again. But this year, due to the pandemic that has – and still are, a huge challenge for us all. Championships of any kind are not more important than life itself, and it has to come in that order. Well some great tournaments did go trough – and we will take a closer look at some of them – women’s first.
The first tournament of the year to go to, was for many the European Championship in Belgium, 18 & 19 January. Organized by The EFKO, European Fullcontact Karate Organization. Fighters from all over Europe attended, and to be the 1.edition, one could conclude with success. The challenging part of it would be like any other major tournament: to attract fighters enough to fill the categories.
We picked the fight between Diana Cantero Perez (Spain, aka) – Csenge Tóth (Hungary) Cantero being the veteran in the game, with an impressing record to show, KWF World Champion, two times at the podium in KWU World championship, and five times KWF EC champion – reign champion from 2019 at the point. Csenge Tóth, student of Edit Abraham, moved up to the senior division in 2018, and have made an impressive entry to the senior division. Being U-21 EC champion in 2018 will be a good record, but also made it to the podium in EC 2019 for seniors Shin, ending 3rd. Some “open” championships has also been entered with success.
We will enter Polish Open, Carpathia Karate Cup next. The Cup are known for good competition, but this years version became squeezed between the EC mention above, and the upcoming EC in Georgia (that was canceled later on due to the covid-19) As a results the categories was slimmer than usually, but the level was good. And not to forget the total aspect, with 8 tatamis and over 800 participants..!! And the 2021 version are planned to go 27 & 28th February official website
Two young fighters in the final, Mirjam Björklund (Sweden) – Anastasiia Duziak (Ukraine) Both young forward-rushing athletes with good junior records, entering the senior division with great performance. Duziak did represent Ukraine in the 4th KWU World Championship, winning the qualifying tournament. Have also been on the U-21 podium Shin U-21 EC and other Open tournaments. Björklund, representing Sweden,have similar record – but does have a very strong U-21 European Champion tittle from 2019 – and not only winning the category, also being awarded the Spirit Award as well.
Japan is next, and the 7th World Grand Prix KWF. In the beginning, the tournament had some more international mix when it come to the fighters who made it to the podium. But this was before Japan’s many fighters from many organizations got interested in this tournament. Russia and Bulgaria has been one factor, bringing in the absolute top fighters to claim the tittles. And as we can see, it is getting harder and harder on that front as well. The tournament has grown nicely, one could wish some more participant in the women’s division, so one can avoid only a handful of fighters in a World GP Championship.
This years final between Maasa Tomino (Japan/ Byakuren) vs Azu Kodama (Japan/ Shiyu Kaikan ), came out of an god category. The -60 kg category had 17 fighters, with Bulgaria, Belarus and Australia attending – and of curse Japan. Tomino has been on the GP podium from before, and consider to be one of the favorites in the category, does also holds top 4 in the 1st WFKO International Tournament – 2018. Azu Kodama, does not have the same record – yet, being active participated in the less profiled tournaments. That said, participating in 1st WFKO International Tournament – 2018 as well as Tomino…and after winning her first fight clear – the second fight makes this one a rematch!
After this tournament more or less everything was shut down. Not before we came into the Autumn some of the national tournaments was held. The leading countries as Lithuania, Russia, Poland and not least Japan went trough with their championships. We take a trip to Russia, the national championship fro wko Russia, semifinal (?) between Anna Kukarina vs Anastasia Spiridonova. Kukarina has been fighting over the whole world, and it’s safe to say that she have done it for some time..world champion in 2004 IKO Matsushima – and 3rd in 2006 and so on.. Spiridonova despite her young age active participating high profile tournaments as KWU world championship for youth – 2016 was a 3rd place taken. Moving into the U-21 category, and taking 1st place in the KWF EC 2019 held i Portugal. So what we can get out it will be a really “veteran” vs “young-blood” coming right up!
Several All Japan Open was held this year, without spectators due to the Covid-19 situation. International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan held their 52nd All Japan Open Karate Championship and 2020 All Japan Women’s Karate Championship that was held at the Musashinomori Sports Plaza on November 29, 2020. We will go to the women’s final between Nanami Sato vs Nana Uzawa. Not only did they end up in the final, both was awarded with special prizes as well. Sato with the Best Technique Award, and Uzawa with the Best Rookie Award! A nice award to get when you are up and coming! Sato being the heavy favorite due to her stunning record, World Champion in weight categories from 2018, and 3rd last year – and also manage to be the runner up in the World Open Championship 2019! Uzawa on her hand being All Japan High School Karatedo Championships Winner – but that seems in an other league.. Uzawa, being only 17 year, how ca she manage fighting a well merited champion?!
Since the European Championship was canceled, we are starved for fights between the best fighter in Europe – in matter of fact, we are generally Karate-starved when it comes to championships. But we had one, close to Christmas that gave us a little taste of it: Kokoro Cup. International, this time it was one fight in the women division, Monika Zielińska (Poland) vs Camille Hadouche (France) rest og the fights in the women’s category was national participants. Even so that this fight just has been seen several time (we guess) all ready, we will have it here. The fight between two really good fighters in a great gala, under difficult conditions are wordy no doubt.
We end this round by ending up in Japan. The 52nd All Japan Open Shinkyokushinkai Championship had some really good fights, and the tournament becomes just more and more interesting since more and more of Japan seems to enter. We add two fights this time, the first one between Yui Kikukawa and Misaki Teshima. Both has been mention many times, being top fighters of the world. This is a really tough and intense fight, with good exchanges, pace and power.Later on Teshima was awarded the technical award, Kikukawa became the runner up.
The second fight we choose, will also give us some top fighters: Sayaka Kato vs Reimi Asako. But the pattern and the style of the fight are a little bit different than what we usually see. At normal basis we see a lot of close intense fighting – almost no space, combined with circular movements and hard punches. Kato,, well known for her “floating style” good foot work – Asako pushing hard bring the fight. As you know the results from before, Kato manage to reach the 3rd place. (..not often we registrar so much kiai use then..)
A special year, very challenging for the whole world. Some have been hit harder by this pandemic. And one has been affected in several ways. Not only on the physical level, but there are also many who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. We look forward to better times, after rain the sun always comes .. keep it up, inspire others, that again will inspire you!