The Japan Karate Association (JKA) brands itself as the “keepers of karate’s highest tradition” and is one of the leading governing bodies for karate in the UK and in the world. Karate is making a strong bid to feature the 2020 Olympic Games.
On the weekend of 20th April 2013 8 of JKA England’s finest joined by other JKA European member countries ventured to Konstanz, Germany for the JKA European Karate Championships. Among which was one of Universal Web Design’s writers, Harry Theron; pictured below with fellow teammates at a bus stop displaying a poster advertising the competition.
The days preceding the competition mainly involved refining what the team has spent so long and hard preparing for under the watchful eye of England Head Coach Sensei Gary Stewart along with assistant England Coach Roy Tomlin. The rest of the time was spent catching up on sleep as many had to endure an all-nighter after having to be at Gatwick airport at 5am!
There are 2 sections: kata, and kumite. Kata is a Japanese word describing precise choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or as a team. Kumite is the sparring or fighting side of karate and allows the use hands and kicks. These 2 sections then transmit into 4 categories. Individual kata and kumite, and team kata and kumite. Team kumite consists of 3 members from a team and they each have one match and the team with the best score out of 3 wins. Team kata consists of 3 team members performing the same kata in perfect sync and is graded on a point system, similar to what you would see from a gymnastics routine. Harry was entered for all 4 categories!
Harry’s day started with male 16-20yo individual kata to which Harry was on form passing through the eliminations where you have to beat your opponent on a flag system to the semi-finals (final 8). In the semi-finals you choose your kata and do it on your own and get graded on a point system and only the best 4 proceed to the finals. Harry finished 6th in Europe for male individual kata, a fantastic result and also beating his previous personal best of a quarter-finals at the 2011 JKA Karate World Championships in Thailand!
However Harry’s good fortune was soon turned around in the individual kumite after he had arguably one of the hardest draws by having 2 former European Champions and the-would-be European Champion on his side of the draw. Only a painful jaw to take away from this event.
This year’s team events saw a drastic increase in the number of countries putting forward a team making this one of the hardest Europeans to get a medal. The team events tends to be considered as ‘valuable’ due to the fact that every team member gets a medal, so 3 medals instead of 1! Team kumite saw England loose 2-0 in the first round (lost two matches and drew one). However England showed remarkable fortitude in team kata by passing though the eliminations and semi-finals and ending up 2nd before the finals in the evening.
Harry and the rest of the team then faced the dilemma of choosing a very advanced kata with a very difficult move which could seal a medal or place them out of the medals, instead they opted for their most a safer and their more trusted kata. But the superb performance saw England finish in 3rd in Europe with fractions of a point off Portugal and Russia. A fantastic and well deserved result in a very difficult competition!
England finished the day raking in an impressive 10 medals with only 8 competitors placing England 6th overall in the medal table showing that quality is definitely better than quantity!