International karate tournament to kick off in Rothesay this weekend
'Bogu' tournament to feature traditional body armour
An international karate tournament will be held at Rothesay Netherwood School this weekend.
Chito-Ryu karate is a form of the martial art that originated in Okinawa, Japan and was introduced to Canada in the 1950s.
"This karate is a bogu tournament and bogu is a piece of body protection. It's a head protective piece and a chest protector," said Neil Pond, president of N.B. Chito-Ryu karate.
"It was developed by the founder of our style, Dr. (Tsuyoshi) Chitose."
This will be the second world championships for Chito-Ryu karate — the first was held in Toronto in 2012.
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Pond said bogu helps duplicate a more realistic fighting scenario, as it allows a greater degree of contact, even though it is not used widely at karate competitions, except for traditional purposes.
"It's the 70th anniversary of Chito-Ryu karate around the world and we are honouring that with the use of the bogu equipment," he said of this weekend's tournament.
"It's kind of like hockey pads."
But Pond noted that protective gear is more for show than safety at this point in time.
"Today karate is quite fast. It's evolved over the years and there's really a very a low amount of contact allowed, so even though they're wearing this equipment today, there's really not a high degree of contact used," he said.
Masami Tsuruoka, considered the father of karate in Canada, trained under Chitose in Japan in the 1950s and then brought the sport to Canada where it has grown over the years.
Introspective, individual sport
When asked what people like about the sport, Pond said it's the individual aspect as opposed to a team sport.
"I think there's a lot of introspective things with karate where you focus mentally on things. It's a self discipline," said Pond.
"There's a lot of things about the culture and the philosophy and the discipline side of it that is attractive to people."
Pond said his club applied to host the second championship and won the honour.
However, he said, while it is an international competition, this tournament won't see that many international participants this year.
"But the idea is, as time goes on, to grow this and have people from all countries come and attend," he said.
Pond expects 150 competitors, plus coaches and officials to attend the tournament.
It will start Friday morning at 9 with an opening ceremony and run until mid-afternoon on Saturday.
He said competitors will be as young as 8 years old up to the senior level.
Tourneys test skills
"I think a tournament is a way to test your skills, it's a way to sort of benchmark yourself," Pond said.
"It's like, if you go to hockey and you do practices all the time and never play a game, you never really know how to measure yourself."
The weekend will feature three types of competition: Kumite, which is sparring between two fighters; Kata, which Pond describes as a series of movements that tell a story in an artistic way, and also team Kata.
"Which is sort of like synchronized swimming. You have three people that re-enact all the moves in perfect harmony," said Pond.
People are invited to come out and watch, but Pond admits people new to the sport might not understand how the scoring works at first.
The event is open to the public and free of charge.
With files from Information Morning Saint John