8th AKF (Asian Karate-do Federation) Junior & Cadet Championship, Jurong East Sports Hall, Singapore, August 25-27 2006. By Lee Hwee Cheng.
Singapore karate-do fans got to witness the best junior Asian karate-do exponents during the 8th Asian Karate-do Federation Junior and Cadet Championship.
If you’re not too sure about the sport, here’s a quick dummy guide to karate, courtesy of an original karate-idiot:
(1) Karate is indeed cool.
Karate is correctly ‘karate-do’. As the written Kanji (Japanese) characters of the name imply, karate-do is a form of martial art that not only negates the use of weapons, but also embodies Zen principles and disciplines of emptying the heart and mind of earthly desires through the perfection of the art. Karate-do is not about the techniques for fighting – it is a way of attaining spiritual enlightenment. Like Mr Miyagi said, the secret to karate lies in the mind and in the heart. Or, as he always told his disciple, "Always look eye." Zen is cool, no?
(2) Ao is ‘blue’, aka is ‘red’.
You get to brush up on some Japanese-language skills as well. Karate is not about chopping wooden planks or fancy crane kicks. Karate, in modern competition, is divided into two main categories: the kata, which refers to the form or pattern, and kumite, the sparring.
Kata, an individual or a team event, is the part of the competition where the karate-kid, in local lingo, essentially "choot pattern". As part of a solo or a synchronized display, a fixed sequence of movements depicting various forms of attack and defense techniques is played out. Layman’s terms? Think Jet Li practising his lethal moves in his backyard.
The kumite event is where the real fun begins. Also either an individual or team segment, this is where the karate-kids pit their sparring skills against one another. Whatever "pattern" they might have in the kata segment, this is the deciding moment if their "pattern" is of any real substance. Layman’s terms?
Think Jet Li taking on and kicking the ass of the baddie.
(3) The louder you howl and the more menacing you look, the better chances you have of ‘killing’ your opponent. Well, at least, that’s from the point of view of a karate-idiot like me. Half the time, I don’t even know what they were screaming as they jabbed a punch or threw a flying kick. Nonetheless, still
pretty impressive. That’s what you call sound effects.
(4) The Middle-Eastern wars do happen – outside of the Middle East. Les the photographer pointed towards the center tatami with a tilt of his head, "Pssst… Middle East breaking into war again, look!" Ah. It was just a sparring match between some Iranian kid and his Kuwaiti counterpart. Still.
In an air-conditioned sports hall thousands of miles away from home, you couldn’t help but feel a natural air of violence surrounding these kids. Perhaps it’s the way their dark piercing eyes instill fear in you, a natural flair none other could match. It certainly didn’t help soothe the tension at all when the respective supporters looked like they were about to pounce upon one another.
(5) The Japanese beats ’em all. They have to. Karate-do, after all, is of Japanese origin. And it explains why, in their cool composed manner on the tatamis, they seem the most ‘stylo-mylo’. From the screaming (it has got to be in Japanese anyway) to the silent-killer instincts of every executed chop, they were a study in martial elegance.
These Asian Juniors have shown us the best of karate-do and we were privileged to have witnessed in Singapore.
To see more pictures from the event, please look here.