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Karate Do Kobudo World Tournament wrap-up

By: Katherine Loukopoulos

Date Posted: 1999-08-27

Two years ago more than 1,640 participants from 49 countries attended and participated in what was regarded at the time as one of the prefecture’s most successful martial arts tournaments. Its success paved the way for even greater efforts, and this year the hard work paid off with the 1999 First Okinawa Traditional Karate Do Kobudo World Tournament, held at the Budokan in Onayama, earlier this month.

Thanks to the sponsorship and participation of the Naha City Office and the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper, this year’s karate and kobudo event not only attracted some of the world’s best martial arts exponents, but proved to be such a phenomenal success, it’s hard to see how they can improve next time it will be held.

Over the last few years, much of the world has been intrigued by Japanese karate, in particular the Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu and Japanese Goju Ryu forms of martial arts. This year, however, Okinawa’s karate elders wanted to highlight the Okinawan art form of classical weaponry known as Kokudo. So this year’s event differed slightly from other tournaments, with competitors being assigned to compete in the style in which they are most accustomed.

Major Okinawan styles such as Shorin Ryu, Uechi Ryu and Okinawa Goju Ryu were held as separate kata divisions and competitors competed accordingly. In this manner, the kata competition gave participants a chance to compete on an equal footing and in their own divisions, and according to age and gender.

Another highlight of the tournament was the opportunity given female competitors to enter both the Kobudo Sai Kata and Bo Kata categories whereas two years ago, they were permitted only to enter in the Bo category.

All in all, it was an excellent event and a great step forward for the preservation and further development and spread of the Okinawa karate styles. I am sure most competitors are already back home training in preparation for the next event.

Katherine Loukopoulos has practiced Goju Ryu, Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu, Ryu Kyu Kobudo and Tai Ho Jitsu for the past thirty two years. She is an international referee, competitor, freelance writer, author, director for a non- profit organization and a lecturer for the University of Maryland, Asian Division. She has lived on Okinawa for the past thirteen years.

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