Monday, November 17, 2008

WKF World Karate Championships 2008 Day 4 Report

Richard here with my day 4 report, which is a semi-wrap up of several days! I'll also wrap up with another post of interesting stories and thoughts later in the week, plus Carl and Lawrence will throw up their own posts with their own impressions too.

By Day 4 Lawrence and I had figured out that a) we were actually able to do more supervising work by each taking two rings which allowed us to help more people more efficiently and b) just us keeping moving, as the other staff started to sit and watch the events from being worn out from a hectic 4 days, we found we could also help the WKF & JKF organizers keep the tournament on schedule.

Canada got medals! Saeed Baghbani -70kg got bronze and Nassim Varasteh -60kg got silver!

I do want to point out right up front that from the WKF's Estevan down to all the volunteers, many people did work quite hard to run the tournament, even though there were some organizational bugs in some areas. But really, the way this worlds is set up now just needs a little fine tuning and it would be perfect for the Olympics!

While some people said to me the emphasis on the importance of respect and budo 's humbleness would be lost, others said the amount of money being in the Olympics would attract to set up training centers that would benefit millions of regualr karate people would be worth it.

My opinion is why not allow some people to train hard and shoot to be an Olympic athlete, as people should be abl to go after their dream. If being an Olympic sport attracts people into karate dojos, it is really up to the instructors to be professional enough to be able to teach both sport and traditional karate with a balance. It's kind of like the hot sport's car in the window of a car dealership brings in the customers, but most decide on the value and usefulness of a regular car instead.

In terms of the heavy weight events on the last day (RESULTS , DIVISION DRAW RESULTS).

Rafael Aghayev from Azerbaijan, who won the Men's Open on Saturday, also won his -70kg division on Sunday, and he was by far the most enjoyable fighter to watch, being only 5'9'' maybe, but extremely explosive as he seemed to stretch his technique beyond what his joints were capable of allowing.

He almost got kiken, disqualified, for being very late to his -70kg semi-final round, and I had to warn his coach directly to be more careful. Some Japanese didn't like all his extra gestures or movements, but he looked like he was having a good time and that came through to the audience, many of whom wanted his autograph after.

Elisa Fonseca Au came 2nd in the +60kg div.

Those are VIP seats in the front, which athletes aka non-VIPs tried to sit in and I ended up having to clear them out. One joked he would toss me from the top, but I pointed out to him I would crash land on the IOC executive monitoring the event below who was making an official report for the IOC in regards to karate's application (to be decided in Oct 2009), which would blow karate's chance of getting into the Summer Olympics. I can just see the headlines, ''IOC official squashed to death at karate event by staff member thrown from third balcony...''

Ona previous day, a Canadian kata athlete, I think Vadovicova, who didn't get through her first round. Very sorry if I get names and results wrong as I had so many things to handle at the same time.

That's 'Shihan Magnifico Manual Monzon', Head Coach for Canada, in the coach' chair. I've known him for years and with our several running jokes it seems I was able to keep him happy with this new moniker, especially when I had to ask him to be seated inside the competition area...

The Japanese man in the white jacket looking at the camera in the bottom right corner with the goatee is Kato Sensei (Wadokai), who was lots of fun to listen to as he had opinions about everything, especially as he was sweating so much from working hard like the rest of us in our very nice, but designed for -10 degree weather, jackets.
As you can see from some of the pictures there were 4 mats in a row, and white curtains around the arena, but this meant there were no places for athletes to watch the matches from the floor area.

Canada's Toshi Uchiage in his first round from a previous day. He unfortunately didn't go through the round, which might be due to his knee surgery he had previously in the year..

There was a large poster showing the new WKF face mask for -21 age divisions. While the top part is pretty good, the nose is not totally protected and with the mouth and chin not protected at all, when for sure 50% of light face injuries are to the mouth, it seems the designers need to work on this idea some more. I heard a university in Italy was going through different ideas and that from their research there is no need to protect the mouth or chin, only the nose bridge, but this is really incomplete to me. However, it's a good start, for sure karate needs it and I like the clear plastic.

The Japanese head guards are bulky and take some getting use to, but they're great because one almost never has to call a doctor to the ring, sometimes for a whole day.

My old coach Reza Salmani (former UAE head coach and BC Team Head Coach in Canada) came to watch the tournament so it was great to catch up with him, even if we only had a few free minutes here and there.

One of the two large display screens. Actually for Japanese standards they were small, only about 15-20' high, whereas for the Japanese Nationals, they're huge!

Sorry, fuzzy photo of an awards ceremony, but you get the idea...

Um, Lawrence, you have your thumb in someone's nose - and the person taking the picture cut me right out of it!
Saturday night Lawrence and I had a late, but relaxing dinner at 'Yakitori Gen', an issakaya pub near the Budokan, with Oliva Sensei and his wife Carmen, Arakawa Sensei (who worked the whole tournament organizing athletes in the warm-up area), my good friend from Shiga Koich Nakano (who kindly bought me a change of clothes since I realized earlier in the day there was no way I would make it home due to how late everything would run), and Koichi's friend Kouki with his co-worker Sayuri (?). We had a wonderful time talking karate shop while listening to Oliva Sensei's thoughts and observations.
Oliva Sensei was saying how the majority of winners were not from G8 developed countries, but from developing countires that 20yrs ago didn't have the understanding of technique and training, but now they do , and that their people are used to be tough because it is harder to earn a living then compared to Japan or Western Europe, or the US.
Lawrence and I had to run for the very last subway train (12:15am) to go back to his place where we crashed for 5 hours before having to get up and come back to the Budokan by 8am for Sunday's final day.

For me my brain has been so worked around this event since Wednesday night, by Friday and Saturday when I actually got a little sleep, I even dreamed both times I was still on the Budokan floor, rushing to check divisions and kicking out people who weren't supposed to be there. Lawrence said he had dreamt the same sort of thing too!

The final reception on Sunday night had some great taiko drumming!

Lawrence and I actually created some fun work for ourselves by going around the banquet hall, filled with 1300 people, and finding anyone on any team to get their signature and give them the final official results. Many grumpy people we had to eject from the competition area were very friendly when we would shout things like 'Poland! Yes, Poland we've been looking for you!' (at which they would cringe a bit thinking they were not supposed to be here either, ha!) and then give them the results and be on our merry way to find someone else.

Wessel and David, the Seiritsu Gakuen foreign students who are in my karate club, watched all day on Sunday and seemed to have a great time. Check out the Seiritsu home page later this week to read their impressions of the event.

Here are two beautiful karate students from Kazumasa Itaki Sensei of the Yokota Air Base Karate Club. Each night from Thursday to Sunday they showed up in different, equally gorgeous kimono to help with the award ceremonies. We were promised a picture with them each night, but since we were sooo busy, by Sunday I thought they might have left as the work men quickly tore down everything at the very end (as there is a concert by The Who on Monday night the next day in the Budokan!). Yet we got lucky and I was thinking how my little Ema will look in a kimono when she's all grown up...

All in all, it was a great experience and I again thank everyone I interacted with, plus Arakawa Sensei for recommending me to the JKF office.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Katarina Vadovikova from Canada made it through her first round, she lost the bronze medal match to Japan. She finished 5th overall.