Road to the 13th World Championship

The first selection in 2022, December, gave us the first 8 fighters in the women division from the European region.The road to the 13th World Championship has began.

Some of the first eight fighters has been qualified to the World Championship before, others are first timers. It is also a certain mix of nations, age and weight – that gives us variation, different styles and strengths.

Ivanka Popova / Bulgaria – need no further introduction. The Bulgarian fighters has been great trough the year 2022 – winning the European Open-weigh and a 3rd place in the World Championship in weight categories. Did stumble in the European Championship in weight categories – but turned the tables and took on the challenges. The 3rd place in The 7th World Karate Championship in weight categories was a great achievement. Securing a win against Aimi Suzuki / Japan in the first fight of the day was an interesting results, since we rarely see European vs Japanese fighters outside the World championships.


The EC Open-Weight victory in December 2022 gave us some really interesting match ups. And in Popova’s case, we saw her fight the whole specter. From lighting fast technical light-weights to strong forward pushing heavyweights. In EC 2023, Popova looked very strong and was not threatened in her way to the top position. In The 12th World Open Karate Championship fought Popova highly merited Yui Kikukawa in the second fight for Popova – and the last one in that tournament as well. As always the draw will play a certain role, but Ivanka Popova has the capacity to reach further than the second round this time – for sure. 

Mirjam Björklund / Sweden will enter the world championship for the first time. We referrer to the Open -Weight World championship, as Björklund has been on the tatami in the weight category world championship. Took the 3rd place that case, and pulled out a win against  Azu kodama / Japan with top 4 in JFKO All Japan open, and from further back in time, runner up in The Karate Grand Prix 2020 on her record. That was a real eye opener for many regarding to the capacity of Mirjam Björklund.

Reaching the final in the EC Open-weight did really place Björklund on a higher level. Facing and winning against several highly merited top fighters from the European region gives us that fact. Trough this tournament Björklund faced so much skills and experience, that one have to really have a “solid package” to solve it. The size of the category with 5 fights trough the day, does also say something about the fighters. A work accident resulted out on warnings in the EC 2023, that said – once again reaching the podium at 3rd place. Mirjam Björklund improves as we speak, and it will be highly interesting to follow one of the very few female fighters from the Northern Europe in the 13th World World Championship 2023.

Brigita Svinkūnaitė / Lithuania did really impress many in the Open – Weight EC. Being one of the youngest and one of the lightest fighter in the category – you do not have the logic best statistic on your side. OK, being a European Champion does tells everyone that you possesses a high level. When one know that this is in the lightest weight category, it it not so easy to see a realistic chance for advancing trough the tournament.

Brigita Svinkūnaitė did advance in the EC Open-Weight, and on her way she fought she very inspiringly. This also provides an image and proof of the effectiveness of the technical aspect of full contact Karate. It’s not all about packing on weight and large muscles, especially in today’s high pace technical fighting world – it must be balanced, calculated and and properly distributed. On top of that a head that can make tactical choices based on when you need one factor versus the other – or all at once.

In the 7th World Championship in weight categories, Brigita Svinkūnaitė did loose in the first fight, but that against Misaki Utsunomiya / Japan, who went all the way and became a World Champion that day. We have a clear tough that in the 13th World championship, Brigita Svinkūnaitė will be one that will move on in the tournament – in the same way as she did in the Open-weight EC (With the draw as an Joker in the game) Collected her second EC tittle at the EC 2023 in Sweden 1st April.

Marta Lubos / Poland did also qualify into the World Championship back in 2019, and did so this time as well. We must say that it was expected, Lubos being one of the established fighters in the women division, regardless if we think of weight category vs open weight. Well rounded, solid fighting and do have the experience fighting all over the world. “The Lu-boss, never disappoints us”  Advancing last World Championship by beating Pavelova / Russia, before facing Yui Kikukawa in the next fight.

Since 2019, Lubos have improving a lot, always been technical, with good pace. Now it is very well synchronized – supported by more strength. The pace are still high, the variation of techniques are good, and we have sen that i last trough long demanding fights / tournaments. Fought two fights in the 7th WC weight category, and lost in a close fight to one of the profiles of Japan – Ramu Amikawa, with a 3 flag decision.

Marta Lubos has been going the hard way when it comes to qualify to the world championship, many hard fights last time in 2019 – similar to this time. How far can it go The 13th World Championship about a half year? Time will show, and we will for sure be there to watch. Reached – again the final in EC, showing stability on a high level.

Marija Sekunda / Lithuania haven’t been notable in the senior division – and that’s quite natural since she just entered the seniors. Participated in the European Championship 2022, and came into top three with a victory over Agata Winiarska. Lost the next fight against Csenge Toth.

In the Open weight European Championship, two victories was the results after the end of the day, that resulted in a place among the top 8 and a ticket to the 13th World Championship. Sekunda is at this point primarily a physical fighter, but develops with each tournament. The physical part tests everyone, but she also got to see herself tested well during the meeting with Ivanka Popova.

In the European Championship in Sweden, Sekunda will showed us witch step since last time she has done, and it ended up in her best result – up to now, being the number one in the over 65 kg category.

 Csenge Tóth / Hungary – is a very steady competitor with solid all round skills. She entered the podium in 2019 – and been there since! Picking top spots almost every time she fights in the European Championship. Did not make the qualifying to the world Championship in 2019, so it seems “right to enter” times time.

Csenge Tóth has been fighting the very best in Europe, and it is only the absolute top fighters that denies her victory. But that again will be the best in the world, as Agata Winiarska, Monika Zielinska, Brigita Gustaityte – world class fighters in other words, and with an very tough pressure to face. Ended on the podium for the fourth time a row in the EC weight category now in April – EC Sweden, a very strong achievement – have the capacity to go all the way, that will happen some day, if one ask us.

How it will turn out going up against the rest of the world will time show, and of course it should be very interesting to see Tóth take on some of the Japanese fighters as Sayaka Kato or Yuna Mokudai for an example.

Lili Mező / Hungary are ready for her second Open World Championship. We all remember in 2019, Mező winning the Open weight in Prague – the qualifying tournament for the 12th World Championship. Doing so and being historic as the youngest fighter winning the EC Open-weight. Making a good figure in the 12th WC, loosing in the 2nd fight to Chihiro Kubota – one of the absolute strongest Japanese fighters in the game.

Keeping the top level, Mező have been on top of the European Championship in weight categories, and did also collect EC Open-Weight number two tittle winning the EFKO EC championship. Entering the 7th WC in weight categories, Mező defeated Inga Mikštaitė i the first fight, but could not take the victory in the next vs Riri Ishihara – the winner of the championship.

What Lili Mező can do in the 13th World Championship? With her capacity, everyone will be challenged, and the time to move further on in a world tournament seems right.

Anastasia Nesterenko / Ukraine have mainly ruled the U-21 EC category, and doing her transition to the senior level with notable actions. Moving further and further in the tournaments. For many it was some breakthrough in 2021, when Nesterenko fought Brigita Gustaitytė in a war of a fight in the semifinal. Many did not expect that Nesterenko could take the strong pressure from Gustaitytė – but the fight went on and 2 extensions was needed.

Anastasia Nesterenko will enter her biggest scene at the World Championship, we have seen her qualities in the European Championships – this will be the next step, a new calibration and level check. Then time will tell who will stand on the other side of the mat as a challenger. Did win her two first fights in the EC Open Weight in December, before loosing to Marta Lubos

The second selection will take place in Debrecen, Hungary June 24, where further six athletes will qualify. – at the same time as the EC for youth. The registration is open, an as expected the largest nations have all ready launched a large number of athletes.