Tuesday, December 11, 2007

35th Japan Cup Karatedo & full results!

The sign for the nationals at the entrance grounds.

(All the results & lots of pics taken from Jpn news sites are listed at the bottom of this post!)

The best of the best towering above the rest. That's pretty much how you could sum up the All-Japan Karatedo Federation National Championships, or also known as the Japan Cup. This Dec 9th, athletes from all over Japan met at the Nippon Budokan martial arts arena in Kudanshita in Tokyo to vie for the top spots. Competitors represented their home prefectures, student or business karate federations, so it's only reasonable to say that they qualified previously for a chance to come to compete in the Japan Cup.

I attended this tournament with Arakawa Sensei, his two boys and about 10 people from Shiramizu, plus Mike Spain who is still visiting us.

But that's not the only thing that's different from most tournaments, as the picture above shows. This was an extremely high profile event with multiple camera crews covering two rings in an area that held 6 for the Wado-Kai Nationals in August. You could also see one of the two giant TV's that cover the live action in their respective rings with slow motion replays and everything. Even though there are very few bad seats in the Nippon Budokan, the Japan Cup's set up ensured that even the mediocre seats were good. Except for the seats behind the screens, of course.

The tournament alternated between individual kata and kumite divisions so when one division ran through all the competitors on one round, they would switch so another division could do a round. This did drag the divisions out a bit, but it ensured very tense and exciting semi-final and final matches as all the best were competing back-to-back.

Men's kumite saw Wado-Kai National Champion Matsuhisa Kou rise to the top despite taking some big hits prior to the final and clutching his left side while outside the ring. You can also see a picture of him leading a session of the Shiramizu Kumite Training Camp in one of Richard Sensei's earlier posts.

Men's kata was won for the second time in a row by Takashi Kadata.

Women's kata went to 21 year old Rika Usami.

Women's kumite was won by Yuuka Satou.

This was easily one of the best tournaments I've watched in my 5 months here, partly because the huge production value and the two rings meant it was easy to keep track of the action and watch some big hits replay on the big screen. But it was also good simply because the level of competition was excellent; kata from all different styles and people of all different sizes demonstrated how they made karate effective for their body type.

One of the key things I took away from it was how important pacing is for a competitor. Be it keeping the nerves in check from causing your kata to look all rushed and short to controlling the pace of a kumite match, the Japan Cup offered ample opportunity to see this. Fighters always took their time to feel out their opponent at the start of a match and competitors in kata had their performance rehearsed not only during the kata portion, but from the very moment they step in the ring. I will definitely be keeping all this in mind for my next tournament.


ps. here are the full results for the All-Japan Nat'ls 2007!

Men's Individual Kumite
1. Ko Matsuhisa (Jitsugyoudan-All Japan Business Association)
2. Yusuke Shimizu (Kyoto)
3. Toshihiro Mori (Student Federation)
3. Atsushi Kuge (Student Federation)
松久 功(実業団)
志水 亮介(京都)
森 敏浩(福岡)
久下 敦司(学生連盟)

Women's Individual Kumite
1. Yuuka Satou (Student Federation)
2. Emiko Honma (Shiga Prefecture)
3. Natsuki Fujuwara (Student Federation)
3. Ayaka Arai (Student Federation)
佐藤 祐香(学生連盟)
本間 絵美子(滋賀)
藤原 菜希(学生連盟)
新井 彩可(学生連盟)

Men's Individual Kata
1. Takashi Kadata (Kanto District)
2. Tetsuya Furukawa (Hokushin District)
3. Kaku Ooki (Student Federation)
3. Kazuaki Kurihara (Kanto District)
片田 貴士(関東地区)
古川 哲也(北信越地区)
大木 格(学生連盟)
栗原 一晃(関東地区)

Women's Individual Kata
1. Rika Usami (Student Federation)
2. Yoshie Kadena (Jitsugyoudan-All Japan Business Association)
3. Hiromi Inagaki (Kinki District)
3. Haruhi Wakabayashi (Chuogoku District)
宇佐美 里香(学生連盟)
嘉手納 由絵(実業団)
稲垣 宏実(近畿地区)
若林 春日(中国地区)

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