Capturing the warrior soul – Piotr Sztencel

There is an ongoing project to create an album from the Shinkyokushin Karate Senior European Championships 2023, which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden.

There is an ongoing project to create an album from the Shinkyokushin Karate Senior European Championships 2023, which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden. The album will contain unique stories told by fighters and coaches, revealing the true face of this sport and dedication in pursuit of the goal. We want to show a bit of what happens behind the scenes, in the hearts of the fighters and on the mat, during the fights. The leader of the project is Piotr Sztencel, Karate trainer, leader of the Warsaw club «SMOK» (dragon) and photographer.

When and why did you start with karate?

I started my adventure with karate at the age of 8, but persuading my parents to sign me up for classes took a long time. It means that since I can remember I had such a strength that pushed me towards this art, this sport, this way of life. It was in the times when dinosaurs still walked the earth 🙂 I started training in 1985.

When did you start with photographing?

About 15 years ago, I became interested in taking pictures … and I got into it. Pretty soon I bought my first professional camera that didn’t have an auto mode. It taught me a lot of humility 🙂 At that time, my knowledge of taking pictures was really negligible, but the joy it gave me motivated me to learn and experiment. After several courses and sessions under the supervision of experienced photographers, two main photographic directions have become clear in my mind: portrait and sport. Very quickly, I combined my two passions and I understood that photographing Karate competitions gives me even more joy and satisfaction. I think the big advantage when taking photos of fighters is that I do what they do every day. This makes it easier for me to capture the moment when the photo should been taken.

My works can be found on Facebook 

and on INSTA

What are you seeking with your pictures?

I am very happy that my photos are recognizable thanks to my style that I have developed over the years. It happens that while traveling around the world I meet people from distant places who know my work. It’s really very gratifying. I always try to capture not only the most important moment, but also the atmosphere of the place and the emotions prevailing in it. But the fighters’ feelings are probably most important. Showing them in the photo is more important to me than sharpness and all other technical details. I try to make my photos a little differently than others. And I think I succeed.

Do you have any favorite situations?

No 🙂 I always try to improvise.

What is the hardest thing about photographing Kyokushin Fights?

There are a few things that don’t help during competition. Usually the lighting is too dim to photograph people moving so fast. Competitions are often held on several mats, so you have to choose which fight to follow. The noise and the whole day of sitting in an uncomfortable position, looking through a tiny visor and holding a heavy camera can be tiring. But the satisfaction of good pictures at the end is a sufficient reward 🙂

What is the idea with this EC album?

Hopefully the project will be a success. But since we want to allocate the income to planting forests, we need sponsors who will cover the costs of creating the album. For the moment, we need economic help. We need sponsors that support us in the current start-up phase. We also need help spreading the information about the project. So help us make it happened.


Interested in the project, and want to find out more?

Project manager and photographer:

Piotr Sztencel (Poland)

+48 733 03 88 81

Promoter and guardian of sponsors:

Magnus Hanssen (Sweden)

+46 733 03 88 81

Substantive Care:

Steffen Haukedalen (Norway)