Newcastle bag bronze for their bruises

Katie Knox reports on Newcastle University Karate Club's battles for medals at BUCS

Katie Knox
27th February 2018
Kristina Kapitza scoring an ippon. Image: Newcastle University Karate Club

Newcastle University Karate Club came home from BUCS with a bronze medal and a fair few bruises. The competition was host to karate clubs from all over Britain and featured multiple styles of the Japanese martial art. Newcastle took its biggest team ever to BUCS this year, with competitors across a variety of categories, as well as a group of spectators who cheered on the team.

BUCS was determined to put on a show; the competition culminated in a dramatic finals where the lights were dimmed so the central mat was lit by spotlights, and Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ was played while the audience clapped and sang along.

Karate is a martial art which was developed on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It is a strike-based art with a focus on punching and kicking, but also uses elbow and knee strikes, open-hand techniques such ‘knife-hands’ (commonly known as the ‘karate chop’), blocks, sweeps and joint locks. In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, karate will be featured for the first time ever. There are regular karate competitions in the North East (and all over the UK) and BUCS Karate is one of the largest.

"I’m really happy with my performance and I'm looking forward to doing even better next time"- Kristina Kapitza

Kata is an event in karate competitions as well as an essential part of training for karateka (a person who practices karate). A kata is a series of choreographed movements including punches, kicks, blocks and more unusual techniques such as jumps and even eye gouges which are performed individually and are designed to develop these techniques for use in fighting.

Kata is judged by technical performance (performing the movements correctly and in the right order), speed, power and spirit (focus and mental attitude). Bethaney Miller competed in the Women’s Senior Kata and, after 5 rounds of brilliant performances, claimed a bronze medal for Newcastle.

Another event in karate competitions is kumite, where two karateka fight one another and the winner is decided through a point scoring system. Points are awarded for powerful, fast, well-timed and skilful techniques, with more points given for techniques such as sweeps and kicks to the head. Two of Newcastle University Karate Club’s competitors narrowly missed out on medals after giving very strong performances. Andras Huszar fought 4 rounds in the Men’s Novice Heavyweight category and said “This year’s BUCS was my first competition, and it was an immense experience for me. I had some great opponents and got the chance to go four rounds so I came away with lots of good memories and lessons to learn. Being part of the Newcastle squad made it a great weekend too!”

Karate builds discipline, resilience and self-confidence as well as being a fantastic way to meet new people

Kristina Kapitza competed in the Women’s Novice Lightweight category and also fought 4 rounds, achieving two ippons. Ippon is the highest score a karateka can get in kumite, and Kristina was awarded both of her ippons for her skilful roundhouse kicks (known as mawashi-geri) to her opponent’s head. Kristina said “I’m really happy with my performance and proud of how I did, and I look forward to doing even better next time.”

One of the club’s instructors and squad coach, Sensei Steve Potts, said: “I am very proud of every member of our karate squad, not just for their performances at BUCS this year, but also for their positive attitudes, determination and commitment to their training and development. I also want to acknowledge the excellent support the team received from their fellow club members along with a large group of Alumni who came to spectate and cheer the team on, and of course the club committee who worked tirelessly to organise everything.”

Karate builds discipline, resilience and self-confidence as well as being a fantastic way to meet new people and improve fitness. Newcastle University Karate Club is a friendly, welcoming club that trains absolute beginners to black belts and every grade in between. If you’re interested in trying out karate or joining the club, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/newcastlekarateclub.

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