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Karate's best full contact fighters go for "Grand Prix" title

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-09-04

Some of the top Full Contact Karate Fighters from around the country will be gathering on September 15 at the Budokan Arena for the "1998 Full Contact Karate Champions Tournament Grand Prix". The tournament promises to be one of the most exciting martial arts events of the year, and already has martial arts fans buzzing with excitement.

The tournament is being promoted and organized by the World Karate Association "Maki Dojo", a full contact karate school located in Naha. The school has successfully held a full contact karate tournament for ten years straight here on Okinawa, but this will be the first "Grand Prix" tournament to take place. The "Grand Prix" tournament opens its doors to some of the top level karate champions from all over Japan, each representing different styles in full contact karate.

There will be 16 fighters vying for the title of ultimate champion, with eight champions from Okinawa being paired with eight champions from mainland Japan in the first round. Losers will be eliminated, with the winners moving on to the next round. Each match will last three minutes. In the case of a tie, another two minute round will take place. There will be four judges and one referee. The rules for full contact karate call for no punching to the head, but kicks can be thrown to any part of the body.

One of the favorites to win the tournament is local full contact karate fighter, Tsutomu Matsumoto. A member of the "Maki Dojo", the 28 year old was champion in 1991 and 1992. Bringing power, speed, and experience to the ring, Matsumoto is expected to do well again this year. However, he will face stiff competition from 1996 champion Taishi Kishimoto. "To win this tournament, you not only need power and speed, but also a strong mental attitude," said Masaaki Asato, Instructor and owner of the "Maki Dojo". "This year all the fighters are strong. The competition level is very high. anyone of them could become champion."

Asato, who is responsible for putting together this year's tournament, along with the previous tournaments of the last ten years, has been studying the martial arts for 25 years. He started the "Maki Dojo" ten years ago, and has taught thousands of Okinawans and foreigners both full contact karate and kick boxing. Besides teaching nightly at his "dojo" in Mihara, Naha, Asato also teaches a kick boxing class on Camp Kinser every Saturday night from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.

Tuesday's main event will not only feature full contact karate, but there are also kick boxing exhibition matches scheduled. Women's World Champion Kick Boxer Kyoko Kamikaze will be trading kicks with Megumi Oyakawa as one of the main exhibition matches.

Several master "sensei" will make guest appearances, including former World Karate Champion Kenji Midori and K1 Fighter Nobuaki Kakuta. The audience will also be treated to several demonstrations in weapons, "kata" (forms), and ice breaking.

Tickets are now on sale at all "Book Box" retail stores around the island. Ticket prices are 2,500 for advance tickets and 3,000 at the door. The Bokudan Arena is located on Highway 58, across from Naha Port. Doors will open at 1:30.

Anyone interested in learning full contact karate or kick boxing as a sport can visit the Kinser Gymnasium on Saturday evenings, or can call Masaaki Asato for more information at 834-7246 or 834-8596.

*Japan Update has two pairs of tickets to give away. The first two people to fax Japan Update their name, address and telephone number will each receive two tickets.

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