The 2nd World Open Karate Tournament
The 2nd World Open Karate Tournament was held on the 23rd, 24th days of November, 1979, in the Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan. It was the commulation of four years of negotiating and fund raising by Kancho Oyama and the result of six months intensive preparation necessitating around the clock working hours by Tokyo Honbu Staff, and members of the Japan Travel Bureau, who acted as the official agents for the tournament.
The competitors, coaches and guests from the 50 represented countries started arriving at Tokyo’s Narita Airport on the morning of the 21st. They were met by representatives of JTB and transported by bus to their hotels, the Hotel New Japan, and Shimbashi Daiichi.
The 22nd was designated as a day of orientation and the tournament got under away in the morning of the 23rd. It was not a tournament free of difficulties, in fact, it was a tournament organized and held under considerable political harassment and interference-an interference that hounded the administrative staff even until the actual day of the tournament. However, despite the difficulties the organizers encountered, the tournament proceeded and it is hoped that those competing and those witnessing the tournament were untroubled by these affairs.
With great flourish, drum beating and many speeches, the tournament began. The line up of participants was impressive but not nearly as much as it would have been had all the countries that applied to come to the tournament been able to attend. Of the 12 countries that were unable to attend, most were unable to do so because they were either unable to gain permission to leave their countries or they could not gain visas for entry into Japan due to Japan’s conservative policies. It was extremely disappointing for all concerned, for the competitors and for those who had worked so hard to get them to Japan. However, it is hoped that four years from now when the 3rd World Tournament will be held the political climate of the world will allow. these countries to participate.
After the oath was taken by H. Royama of plaques were presented to prominent persons at the tournament, the rules were demonstrated and the tournament began. Since the first round of the tournament constituted 123 bouts, it was considered almost as the preliminary and tameshiwari was omitted. The fighting in the first round was very diverse in standard, some competitors being extremely good and others obviously lacking considerably in Karate experience. Consequently, while a few of the fights were well worth watching, many of them were very scrappy and others quite uninteresting. 123 fights is a heavy schedule, however as 8 countries were unable to come and four countries, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Rhodesia, were unable to fight despite the fact that they had managed to get to Tokyo, 36 bouts were not fought. Towards the end of the first round the audience became restless with the large number of unfought bouts so the African teams were brought to attention and introduced. This greatly pleased the crowd, many of whom had come especially to see South Africa’s Kenny Uytenbogaardt, a 198cm, 93kg 2nd Dan with a famous reputation in Japan amongst the young fans who read a fictions comic book story that features a Character modeled on this South African.
Originally it had been planned to hold only the first round on the first day of the tournament, but having completed the first round, the organizers decided there was time enough to begin the second round, and Blocks A and B were included in the first – day’s programmed.
Tameshiwari was required for entry into the second round, and thereinafter, and all competitors were successful after at least two attempts. As could be expected, the second round standard was very much better and more consistent in standard than that of the first round. In the second round those with power, technique and experience were separated from those that had not and since their fighting had more direction and control a significant number of fights were won by ippon or clear decisions. It was in this round also that many of the world’s Kyokushin Champions entered the tournament for their
first fights. This was so because the draw had been organized on a seed draw style where a number of competitors by-passed the first round and entered on the second round. This helped to considerably raise the standard of the fighting, and this resulted in more exciting, interesting and ippon fights.
Blocks C & D of the 2nd round were held on the 2nd day, as well as the whole of the 3rd round. The 2nd day was the most exciting and satisfying of the tournament. The fights were good, reasonably free of fouls and the fighting and judging were a great deal more accurate than they were to prove to be on the final day. It was on the 2nd day also that the Japanese myth of Karate superiority was shattered. The performance of the foreign competitors had remarkably improved since the First World Tournament and they had become better technicians and every bit as Cough and powerful as the Japanese. The performance would have been even more decisive had some of the foreigners more confidence in their own abilities and a great deal less awe of the Japanese reputation. T. Bowden’s fight against K. Kawabata and P. Booth’s fight against H. Royama were good examples of this, and had these two fighters overcome this final step, they would have been the winners in their fights against Japanese opponents.
The Japanese were really fighting hard tight from the beginning of the tournament as they did not have the easy time they experienced in the First World Tournament It took longer for them to win, and they couldn’t win so dramatically. The Japanese losing trend continued into the 3rd round and it became evident on the 3rd and final day of the tournament when they began to pick up favors from the judges in the form of no penalties for pushing and grabbing that constituted penalties for everyone else, and in decisions, weight differences and breaking. This was extremely disappointing, for as a foreigner it was truly sad to see the Japanese so emeshed in their narrow pride and nationalism that they felt justified in producing winners at the price of authenticity. However, it is a problem that the Japanese themselves will have to work out and it is hoped that in the 3rd World Tournament they will be able to face the fighters of the world as one of the countries of the world and not specifically as the Japanese vs. the foreigners, the Japanese vs. the world in a contest using a fighting form in which the Japanese feel and believe it their born right to be superior.
The 3rd and final day, which comprised of the 4th and 5th rounds, the quarter and semi-finals and the final, was not quite the success it should have been for the above mentioned reasons. However, we were able to witness some exciting fights even if the procedures and results were a little baffling at times, and finally Japan emerged to take the Championship and 2nd place.
Europe, America and Japan contested the higher honors and the crowd cheered 4’or booed their approval enthusiastically. Dynamic demonstrations were given, the most, popular surely being the defense against double Sword attack by USA Shihan S. Oyama, Y. Oyama and M. Miura, with the climax being dramatically reached by Shihan S. Oyama catching the attacker’s sword in his bare hands. Children also did a mass demonstration while the band did a rousing job of stoically pumping all other silences with Kyokushin tunes. Perhaps the most admirable display given though was that of the professional Taiko drummers who, dressed in Karate-gi, drummed in the opening and closing of each day in traditional Japanese rhythmic patterns. It was not only rousing, it was dynamic, interesting and extremely popular.
After the final bout and the Champion was decided, the rather too numerous trophies and prizes were presented to the first 8 place holders. Obviously no one had given any thought as to how the winners were to get all their prizes home, nevertheless, once home they would certainly make an impressive display. Following the close of the tournament all competitors and coaches were whisked away to Atami, a spa site in Isu prefecture near the sea. The short overnight stay was extremely enjoyable and gave the overseas guests an insight into the wonderful Japanese hospitality. In the afternoon of the following day, back in Tokyo, a Branch-Chief meeting was held, and in the evening the traditional Sayonara Party. The party was a huge success with all teams and guests joining in to add to the evenings entertainment. Kancho Oyama was kept busy signing books, a task he finds tiring but thoroughly satisfying, and during the meal a bag of gifts containing a yukata (summer kimono) of Kyokushin design, a happi coat bearing the marks of all the sponsors, a towel, Kyokushin cup, calendar, programmed and a beautiful memorial Seiko watch, were presented to all the teams. It was at this party that Kancho Oyama said Sayonara to most of the guests, for throughout the following day (the 27th) they were boarded on flights back to their home countries. A number of competitors and Branch-Chief remained on in Tokyo however, and some of them attended trainings in Tokyo Honbu Dojo. Consequently for Kancho and his Honbu staff the following weeks were equally as busy.
Overall the tournament must be classed as a grand success. To bring 146 competitors and many guests from more than 50 countries of the world to Japan without any government assistance, rather despite government interference, is certainly a marvelous achievement indeed. The standard of the tournament must also be classed as extremely good, especially compared to the First World Tournament, and if any disappointment exists on account of the Japanese teams’ performance it must be remembered that this is so because the rest of the world was expecting the Japanese to be super Karate-ka.. Indeed it is true to say that in part the view that the Japanese must, are better at Karate is sanctioned by the foreigners themselves. The International idea of Karate must be considered a little more deeply and widely, especially by the Japanese.
It is really necessary for Karate to have a Japanese Champion?? The Japanese believe so. They feel that this is the only way they will be able to preserve the truth and practice of the Japanese traditions which surround and are Karate. For this reason Kancho Oyama has his Karate-ka practice full time for World Tournaments, and it is because these people train Karate full time that the rest of the world expects them to be so much better at it.
Another concept that needs revision is that of “spirit.” Spirit is good attitude, good sportsmanship and the will and ability to keep going on the right path despite all odds. The Japanese however seem to abuse the concept of spirit when it is given as the fancy title for too much aggression and block head attitudes in an excuse to cover up an actual lack of ability or an excess of anxiety to win. It has become a convenient reason to give as the winning factor for a Karate-ka who won his fight without any clear display of technique, power or Karate finesse. Deep thought and feeling should be given to the concept of spirit, for correctly it is an integral part of Karate.
For all countries however, the World Tournament is a time to learn, to learn by experience and by the mistakes and successes of others. Those countries who attended the World Tournament for the first time now have some guidelines of Karate set for them to model their own Karate on, and for those that experienced the First World Tournament and showed remarkable improvement, it was a chance. for them to see this improvement and to place themselves not only in relationship to Japanese Karate, but also to all other countries strong in Karate. This opportunity gave them all the chance to see and test their weaknesses and strengths, and in this respect the success and benefit of the tournament has set the necessity of continuing this World Karate Tournament series.
This Tournament saw a total of 32 knockdowns, which means that 20% of all the fights resulted in knockdowns. Most of the ippon were gained by kicking techniques and many of these were executed with the left foot despite a predominantly right- sided field.
Compared to the First World Tournament, the ability to avoid Japan’s favorite technique, the low kick, had remarkably improved making this a less lethal and effective technique for the Japanese. Also noticeable was the ability to disregard the pain, to move forward and kick back after receiving a low kick and this greatly surprised the Japanese who had been expecting the foreigners to move back or give up as they had done in the First World Tournament. By kicking back, the Japanese were robbed of the opportunity to mercilessly thrash the legs as they had done previously and it also helped to upset their timing, balance and focus. The most obvious example of this was the performance of H. Royama, 2nd place winner in the First World Tournament, who won most of his fights by low kicks. In this tournament he was unable to win in the same manner not only because the foreigners had studied the use of the low kick technique, but also because they had dared to fight back, even using the same technique, which threw him off form.
I have already said that most ippon were gained by kicks and of course kicks are stronger than punches, but punches are more accurate. If good timing is achieved, it is possible to knock an opponent over with one punch as J. Malcolm of Trinidad did to W. Franz of Switzerland in the extension of their first round fight, scoring the only chudan tsuki knockdown in the tournament. This may have simply been luck, but luck or not, to gain a knockdown .by a punch is good technique Karate rarely seen. Most knockdowns are achieved by one opponent kicking through the guard of the other opponent. With this kind of power fighting the chances of the smaller, lighter opponent winning by the same approach is very small. Thus if the smaller man wishes to win, he must discontinue training for this power type knockdown and concentrate on the setting up of easy knockdown chances by breaking through his opponent’s guard either by kicks or punches, to leave the way clear to follow up with accurately timed techniques. H. Collins of Britain clearly displayed the use of breaking a guard with a kick, but his follow up techniques were also mostly kicks. Kicks are important, dynamic and effective, but hand techniques are also extremely useful in breaking guards and setting up the chances of knockdowns.
In the First World Tournament, the foreigners displayed predominantly punches, in the 2nd World Tournament, perhaps influenced by Japanese trends, they displayed predominantly kicks. This progression greatly pleased Kancho Oyama and the Japanese, who favor and admire kicks, but the next step for the 3rd World Tournament is to develop the ability to set up chances for knockdowns by meaningful hand/leg connecting combinations. This also presents the only chance for smaller competitors who will otherwise have no chance of success against the strength and technique of the increasing numbers of bigger men entering Karate tournaments.
Improvement in “spirit,” which is as important in Budo Karate as technique and power, was the greatest, most dramatic and meaningful advancement displayed by the foreigners at the 2nd World Tournament. was impressed with the number of competitors who simply would not move back or give up, who stoically stood their ground, and in the number of competitors who courageously attacked an opponent despite great size and technical differences. This was the Budo spirit we had all come to see.
I was especially amazed with the team from India. They had a handicap in body size, being both light and small, and a handicap in training experience. However, despite the obvious lack of technical ability and power, they did not escape the punches and kicks they received. They showed us spirit even though they could not show us fighting technique.
Although it was satisfying to see such great fighting effort and spirit being displayed, it was evident that some fighters misunderstood the truth of this “spirit.” This same spirit I am talking of, existed in the code of the knighthood of old Europe and exists today in what is known as `.`sportsmanship.” Kyokushin Karate is well known for its discipline and severeness, but it has no truth if the “spirit”-the fighting effort, correct attitude and “sportsmanship” is left out.
One of the biggest examples of bad spirit was seen in the consistent breaking of the rules concerning grabbing and pushing, and unfortunately the worst offenders of this were the Japanese.
Luck of the draw
Even though Kyokushin tournament style is contact, knockdown Karate, an element of luck still exists. For example in the draw. We are told that the draw was chosen by ballot, but in many cases it was extremely unlucky how this ballot fell. Countries fielded teams of either two or four members, there were four block divisions but it was common to see two or more competitors from one country fighting in the same block, and in some cases only a few bouts apart. It was also unlucky to see two strong men fighting in the first’ rounds so that ‘one was defeated, while weaker persons passed through to the higher rounds. However, this is the luck of the tournament.
In this tournament I could see that Kyokushin has progressed to great strength in some overseas countries, and this was good to witness. Two strong kick boxers came and they fought quite well, but Kyokushin defeated them with kicks and techniques which out-classed their own. I was disappointed Kung Fu fighters did not come as it had been advertised they would, as I think it would have proved to be extremely interesting.
This tournament also had 22 significant injuries. Some were the results of knockdowns, some were the results of low kicks and, fortunately, only a mere few were the results of illegal techniques. Some knockdowns were the results of potentially dangerous techniques such as M. Nakamura’s knockdown punch to the neck of K. Scharrenberg of Holland. This may be an effective knockdown technique, but for obvious reasons, I would prefer not to see it used in tournaments. Although there were a few administrative and judging mistakes, overall I think the tournament was very successful. The disappointment in the performance of the Japanese was compensated for by the good and exciting performances of the foreigners. They came from all corners of the world and many had not recovered from their long and tiring trips before they were required to fight. This merely made their performances all the more impressive.
I hope. all competitors enjoyed this Karate meeting, and that they enjoyed their stays in Japan making many friendships both foreign and Japanese.
I am looking forward to the 3rd World Tournament-a Tournament that should indeed be interesting.