Karate take to the mat

Karate returned home from BUCS Nationals with a brilliantly earned bronze medal. Sonja Dengler reports:

Sonja Dengler
27th February 2017
Ready to rumble: The team showed their skills in the kata and kumite. Image: Nasreen Khatun

The Newcastle University Karate Club was up early to register at 8am, warm up, and wait to start competing. The Club had four people competing in kata on Saturday, and four people fighting on Sunday.

Karate is a martial art that started in and around Japan before going viral, spreading to almost every country in the world. It will even be in the 2020 Olympics.

When training karate there are three basic things you practice: kihon (the basics and not meant for competition), kata (a performance of sorts, like fighting invisible enemies) and kumite (where your opponents are no longer invisible, and competitors get their mits on and try to punch, kick and sweep one another, getting points for the quality and control of their techniques. It is a lot of fun to watch).

The first person up was Sonja Dengler, in female novice kata. Stepping out onto the mat, watched by the rest of the club she forgot everything around her and just focused on the kata.

“Andy performed his kata with good technique and spirit a couple more times and beat them all”

The club president, Andy Kiang was up next, in male novice kata. Replacing his green belt with a blue on, to prevent bias he performed his kata alongside another karata-ka, and performed it better than them, so got through to the next round, and through the round after that.

He then got beaten in his third round, but because the person who beat him got through to the finals, Andy was still in with a chance. They have a thing called ‘repechage’, which is where all the people who were beaten by finalists, get to compete for a joint bronze.

Andy performed his kata with good technique and spirit a couple more times and beat them all. For the first time in several years the club won a medal!

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching some of the club’s brown belts also compete in kata, but unfortunately not make it as far, as well as watch people from other universities show off some seriously cool karate.

There were some amazing sideways spinning jump moves, and lots of ox jaws and tiger’s claws, and other techniques that if done against real people could cause some serious damage. Luckily the opponents people fight in kata are invisible, so no one got hurt.

3rd  place in the kata for Andy Kiang

Sunday was the day for all the kumite competitions. All four of our fighters did extremely well. Sandro Voi, the first one up, deserves special mention. Having got through to the third round he was beaten by someone who had finished his first two fights in under a minute (by getting eight points, otherwise they last 3 minutes).

However, Sandro tired him out to the extent that he was beaten in his next match, so didn’t get through to the finals, meaning Sandro was out, without the chance to compete in repechage. And although Harry Mann did get this chance he didn’t quite manage to land enough hits.

Speaking to our presidential medal winner, he said “I attribute my success to being stingy and going to training as much as possible to get my money’s worth from the membership fee!  But Sensei John and Sensei Steve have done an amazing job training me up to this standard, considering I had never done any karate in my life two and a half years ago.”

And with that Newcastle University Karate Club admired Andy’s medal some more, and left Sheffield for the cold North. Remember that you can still give karate a go, just visit nuskc.com.

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