Reviews

US Weight Category Karate Championships 2016

January 30, 2016

Coming Soon!




US Weight Category Karate Championships 2015

January 25, 2015

The U.S. Weight Category Karate Championships were held on January 25, 2015 at the Aratani Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Sanctioned by the IKO Kyokushinkaikan, Tokyo, Japan, and hosted locally by Shihan Taku Nakasaka and Kyokushin Los Angeles members, the 2015 USWC was especially significant because the top finishers would have the honor of being selected to represent the North American Region at the 11th World Open Karate Championship in Tokyo, Japan, November 2015.

The Juniors & Seniors semi-contact Kumite fight divisions, and the classic Kata forms divisions, saw scores of contenders, some as young as 6yrs old, with little to no competitive experience, yet were strong and solid, heralded the start of a dynamic display of Kyokushin Spirit in downtown LA's Little Tokyo district.

At the much-anticipated Main Event, Showta Moriyama of LA, himself recently spawned from the junior division of this tournament, fought for the first time in the 2015 Adult Men's Lightweight category. As he charged through his fights, the18yr old Moriyama easily avoid his opponent's traps, and stuck to his sound game plan. With no expectation but hope, Moriyama defeated Kohtaro Zushi of West LA in the Final to reach the top of the Lightweight podium - 1st Place - and a coveted spot on the North American Team representing the USA at the World Open.

The US Men's Middleweight category is known to be fiercely competitive, and this year did not break with tradition, as the draw was jammed with agile and athletic contenders. The Final saw Kashin Osawa of Japan, in his US debut, face off opposite another hometown LA favorite, Sota Nakano. In a field of world-class competitors this final match was a high-energy bout that had the spectators pounding their feet. Nakano utilized his trademark footwork and never-say-die fight style, but Kashin stood his ground with no damage. The match went into an extension round where Kashin's fortitude gave him the edge to the last second, and earned him the well-deserved 1st Place trophy.

Then the 'big guns' came out. In both the Men's Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight categories, the Canadian contingent brought their best back to LA, and once again demonstrated how Canada is a rising world power. In the Heavyweight division, eastern Canadian Mohammed Chikh awed with patent balance and control to simply dominate his opponents. Where others may rely on one or two key techniques, Chikh uses a constant barrage and variety of strikes to keep opponents guessing. Fighting against another Canadian, Pasha Mykhaylov in the Final, proved the clear supremacy of the nation at this USWC, with the Canadian mainstay, Chikh ultimately taking the top prize, and securing his spot on the North American Team to the 11th World.

In the Super-heavyweight division, the prominent Canadian from the west coast, Mark Berg, impressed with his ability to gradually breakdown his opponents of gargantuan size with no hesitation. Berg had secured 2nd or 3rd Place finishes at USWC's in the past, but clearly his sharpened technique and increased speed in 2015, fortified him. Facing off opposite NY's Damian Kolano in the Final, the two were at first neck and neck, but Berg's superiority was clear at the finish, and he not only netted the 1st Place spot, but the 2015 Best Spirit Award and the honor of representing Canada on the North American Team delegation to the World's.

The USWC Women's division is always an eye opening experience for those who associate knockdown fighting as a realm solely for giants of the other gender. To witness the ferocity and power of the Kyokushin Women's field is a reminder to all never to judge explosiveness by the size of the dynamite. Koto Hiraoka of Japan was the perfect example. In the Final opposite New Zealander, Reena Prasad, Hiraoka dominated with her swift footwork and heavy impactful blows belying her tiny frame, to become the undisputed champion of the US Women's Lightweight category. In addition to being named champion of the Lightweight Women category Hiraoka was also distinguished with the prestigious Best Technique Award of the entire tournament.

In the Women's Middle-Heavyweight combined category, Hiraoka's compatriot Black Belt from Japan, Hitomi Endo, went head to head with the 5th Kyu dynamo from NY, Danessa Rodriguez in the Final. As both women's blows resonated throughout the Aratani Theatre, Endo proved her tenure and authority with excellent jabs, low kicks, and a flurry of high kicks to fluster Rodriguez and take the Championship title.

The US Weight Category Karate Championships has grown in the last decade to become one of the most important stepping-stones on the IKO Kyokushinkaikan International Tournament Circuit. The results of the 11th US Weight Category Karate Championships witnessed in January 2015, forecast the snowballing force that the top fighters exuded at the 11th World Open in Tokyo in November 2015; and clearly defines the undeniable power and enduring fortitude of the International Karate Organization KYOKUSHINKAIKAN.

Osu!

Kyokushin Los Angeles


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2014

January 26, 2014

With the crowds emptying the Aratani Japan America Theatre on this action packed Sunday, the International Karate Organization (IKO) Kyokushinkaikan presentation of the 10th US Weight Category Karate Tournament (USWC) comes to an exemplary conclusion. As has become customary the last decade, this event drew a wide diversity of local, national and international KYOKUSHIN competitors that enraptured the audience and made for excellent caliber performances all around. Besides displaying classical martial arts athleticism, KYOKUSHIN competition is renowned for showcasing the intensity, power and spirit of the human will. Competitors did not disappoint in delivering on the philosophies of our revered founder, Sosai Masutatsu Oyama, in displaying “The Strongest Karate”, KYOKUSHIN.

The morning began with KATA (forms) competition where each competitor takes the stage to perform a time-honored choreographed movement, demonstrating one’s fighting skill and execution against imaginary opponents. Categories were divided by juniors and adults, and further delineated by intermediate and advanced levels. Standout performances in particular, and 1st Place successes, were seen by Youth Advanced competitor, Kioto Shimamura of the USA with a strong performance of Kanku, Alexandra Karnasopoulos of Australia in the Senior Advanced division with her own stunningly graceful performance of Kanku, and Tomasz Dewalski of Poland, with a powerful performance of the lengthy and intricate, Sushiho to best his competition Adult Advanced division.

Semi-Contact KUMITE (free-fighting with mandatory protective gear) immediately followed the forms competition, and the preliminary field began with the youngest and lightest fighters of the day, at 6 years old and barely 40lbs. Young California, USA locals dominated the finalist positions in most Youth divisions, with youths from Chicago, IL, USA placing, and then phenomenal young upstarts from Japan and Russia taking over the lead as divisions climbed into heavier groups and teens. In the 14yr old Junior divisions in particular, spectacular fights were displayed by Junior Girl finalists, Lisbeth Espino (1st) of LA, CA, USA and Elizabeth Kuc (2nd) of Chicago, IL, USA, and Junior Boy finalists, Keitaro Kanehisa of Japan (1st) and Vladislav Amirov of Russia (2nd). These youngsters are not rookies, but at this tender age have already been competing on the IKO tournament circuit seriously since in their single digits of life. To perceive their skill level at this blossoming age, and imagine their potential from this point forward, is an honor and thrill to witness.

Seniors Semi-Contact KUMITE was divided into Men’s and Women’s divisions that consistently represent the best of the best of the Over-35’s . Typically, Senior divisions are stocked with well-seasoned local and national champions who defy perceived age “barriers” to exemplify KYOKUSHIN, and this event was no exception, with former Adult open strongholds, Marek Ociesielski of Chicago, IL, USA and Dominique Matteau of Canada, each taking the title in their respective gender divisions.

Full-Contact KUMITE divisions were six, with two weight categories for Women and four for Men. In the Women’s Lightweight, Mariela Zarate (1st) of New York, NY, USA, with her innocuous stature, took the win heartily over the more established international fighter from Canada, Caroline Nadeau (2nd), with intense forward momentum and a relentless bombardment of attack combinations. In the Women’s Middleweight, newcomer, Danessa Rodriguez (2nd), of New York, NY, USA faced Ewelina Czeremuga (1st) of Chicago, IL, USA - a repeat champion at the USWC. Danessa went toe-to-toe landing several hook punches to Ewelina’s right side for most of the fight, startling Ewelina until she unleashed a barrage of hooks of her own, to takeover the match and win decidedly by Ippon.

Ippon (full point victory) with a knockout is what KYOKUSHIN is renowned for, and why the IKO Kyokushinkaikan coined the term “ICHIGEKI” (one-devastating blow) to illustrate KYOKUSHIN prowess. Ippon is what competitors strive to accomplish, and what spectators come to look out for, and why you will find many a great example on any KYOKUSHIN highlight reel. The USWC14 made for several momentous knockouts. In the Men’s LW division, Ashot Zarinyan (1st Place) of Russia executed an explosive ushiro geri (back kick) to floor Enrique Mayers (3rd Place) of Oceanside, CA, USA, and secure his place in the finals and defeat Tomasz Pelczar (2nd) of New York, NY, USA for the win. The MW final was a head-to-head match between two Australians, Reece Henderson and David Tockar, with Reece coming out ahead of his teammate to take the title; newcomer Luigi Scarcella of New York, NY, USA took 3rd. The HW division saw another Australian progeny, Anthony Tockar opposite the formidable Tornike Kurtsikidze of Russia, the latter winning with the distinctive and fearsome attack combinations established worldwide by the Russian team of late; another New Yorker, Damian Kolano took 3rd. In the Men Super HW division, renowned East European titan, Patryk Sypien (2nd Place) of Poland executed a domawashi geri (barrel kick) that floored local LA, CA, USA semi-finalist, Ryan Powell, that advanced him to the Final where he faced off against two-time SHW Champion, Daniel Milicevic (1st Place) of New York, NY, USA. Daniel’s semi-final match with the consistently strong Canadian, Mark Berg, was a great re-match between the two giants, though Daniel summarily eliminated Berg, to impatiently enter the Final opposite Sypien. Daniel’s quick right hand, which he landed unswervingly against Patryk, echoed with resounding thuds throughout the arena, that intensity, combined with lethal low kicks and swift tactical footwork, garnered Daniel top honors of the tournament, and his USWC Super Heavyweight Title for the third time.

Sosai Masutatsu Oyama stressed that KYOKUSHIN practitioners pursue “beautiful” KUMITE, which can be interpreted as exchanging an array of strikes between fighters that resemble in body language how we, as humans, communicate in speech. KUMITE should not be a one-sided conversation, but rather a dialogue, that illustrates the strength, power and character of the KYOKUSHIN spirit. Congratulations all, OSU!


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2013

OSU to all Kyokushinkaikan instructors, practitioners, and fans!

The USWC again welcomed a star studded cast of participants from all over the world to challenge themselves and each other while demonstrating their wisdom and talent, as formulated by Kyokushin founder, Sosai Masutatsu Oyama. As Kyokushin “karate-ka”, we honoring his memory by gathering together to compete with mutual respect, dignity, and the upmost respect for our fellow competitors.

The event is kicked off with classical forms competitions, “Kata”. Noticeable standouts include one of the youngest competitors of the day, Torrance local youth, Haruto Arima who took first place in the Junior Intermediate with a performance of Geki Sai Sho that showed great concentration and control. The final Kata performance of the day in the Adult Advanced division was by local Torrance legend, Miruyo Ito, who has earned countless accolade on the world kata stage. Miruyo graced the mat with her rendition of Sushiho, a focused and definitive form that is arguably the most technically difficult of all Kyokushin Kata. Kata practice inherently proves that Kyokushin is not solely about fighting, and in fact, the most strategic and innovative knockdown fighters are indeed often the best Kata practitioners as well.

The Junior Boys & Girls and Senior Men’s & Women’s Semi-Contact “Kumite” competitors overall fought fiercely and courageously in each of their respective bouts. Across the board in all divisions several new faces emerged, and tried and true talents once again came to the forefront, in particular, Nariko Watanabe of Torrance, CA who took the title in the first ever IKO division for Women’s Senior Kumite. Of the prolific youths, 9yr old Aleksei Lapin of Russia, 10yr old, Kyle Czeremuga from Chicago, USA, and 16yr old, Showta Moriyama in the Junior Boys events, and 13yr old Lisbeth Espino of Los Angeles, USA in the Junior Girls event, were particularly remarkable as they each defined and ruled their divisions. The IKO world stage will likely be seeing more of these emerging talents as they mature into outstanding Kyokushin Karate-ka.

As the Main Event began, the fever pitch intensified as the Adult Full-Contact Kumite competitors took the stage by storm. In the Women’s Lightweight division, Iaroslavna Moreva of Russia fought a crushing battle to best the local favorite, Miruyo Ito. Despite Miruyo’s attempt to create distance, in the end Moreva’s punches too tough to overcome. Moreva seized the opportunity to nab the title. One of the most watched matches in the Women’s events was in the Middleweight final between Kseniia Zasorina and Iulia Pinegina. Two Russian super-powers battled it out with superior technique and first place was eventually taken by Kseniia Zasorina edging rival Iulia Pinegina by decision. The Heavyweight category was equally dramatic with two more East European ladies going the distance with the sound of pounding of flesh and bone echoing off the walls. With her tough gritty punches and dangerous knee kicks, Anna Kaczynska-Youssfi of Poland took top honors in the category, besting Russia’s powerhouse, Ekaterina Provkova.

The Men’s Lightweight division was dominated by Russians, so to their coaches, and to the audience it was difficult to choose a favorite. Both extremely tough and wiry fighters with quick footwork and sharp blows, it was Alim Yunusov who came out ahead of his equally talented teammate, Aleksandr Mikhailov. In the Heavyweight division, Mohamed Chikh of Canada went toe to toe against Russian, Evgenii Savin and with a long reach and excellent strategic maneuvering, he managed to defeat the intensely determined Savin to win the title and take home the Judge’s award for Best Technique of the day.

In the Men’s Middleweight division, unfortunately some disallowed techniques executed by both fighters. Mirel Iacob of Romania withdrew himself from finishing the match, which left Shohei Yamamoto of Torrance, CA the win by default.

In the Super Heavyweight category, two strong Canadians Matth Payne and Mark Berg, ruffled the feathers of defending Champion, Daniel Milicevic of New York, USA, making him work doubly had to ensure his title didn’t change hands. In the Final, Milicevic faced Payne to ultimately overcome and take home the title once again and win the coveted Judge’s award for Best Spirit of the day.


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2012

On January 22, 2012 Los Angeles played host yet again to the US Weight Category Karate Championships. It is no surprise that in 2012 that we were once again marveled by the competitors’ athletic prowess and artistic demonstration of our beloved martial art, KYOKUSHIN Karate. Due to renovations at our usual stage venue, this year’s tournament took place in the gymnasium of El Camino College, which provided a great atmosphere for our usual fireworks to commence.

The main event was kicked off with the Men’s Lightweight Category which was dominated by a new face to the LA scene ? Kirill Zubarev of Russia. His blazing fast left-side attacks pummeled the field of opponents. In the first stage he had one of the quickest Ippon (knockout) in USWC history, with an ushiro mawashi geri (Back spin kick) that will surely be on the highlight reel. Kirill went on to win in the finals with a beautiful jodan mawashi geri (high roundhouse kick) that gave him a convincing awase Ippon (combination knockout). Kirill will no doubt be a stallion of the Russian stable in future Kyokushin championships and we look forward to his future accomplishments.

Sota Nakano, a popular local favorite, represented Los Angeles in the Men’s Middleweight Category, where he fought a long and grueling 3 extensions fight with Mirel Iacob of Romania. A truly gallant test of endurance, patience, and stamina ? both competitors continued to push forward despite pain and adversity which is the essence of the budo (samurai) spirit. A head to head contest for both men over several minutes, but Sota prevailed in the end to take the win, proving he had grown as a contender for the global stage.

The Men’s Heavyweight Category proved to be a compelling Finals matchup between former USWC Champion, Nicolae Stoian from Romania and 9th World Open 4th place finisher Darmen Sadvokasov of Russia. Darmen had been absent from the international scene recently, but was given a warm welcome as he graced the USWC stage. Darmen went on to win the match by decision, heralding his return to the Kyokushin circuit with a resounding triumph here in LA.

With the very biggest men in the Super Heavyweight Category we saw once again how enjoyable it is to see and hear these giants battle it out. The final match was between Mark Berg of Canada and Daniel Milicevic of New York. After a brutal round of impressive body blows and snapping kicks, Daniel proved victorious, bringing a coveted USWC Championship title back with him to the New York Branch.

In the Women’s division, World Kata Champion and local instructor, Miruyo Ito dazzled again in the Women Lightweight Category where she met another brilliant fighter from the New York Branch, Koto Hiraoka. What these two ladies lacked in body mass they make up for ten-fold in speed and technique. Miruyo took no time in unleashing her usual bombardment of attacks from low/high and left/right, and though Koto matched her in velocity making for a great match to behold, Miruyo won by decision to again reign as Lightweight Champion in LA. In the Women’s Middleweight Category, West LA fighter Akiko Cruz faced off against veteran fighter Ewelina Czeremuga of Chicago. Though Akiko put up a good fight, it was not to be, as Ewelina proved once again, her reign as Middleweight Champion endures.

It is impossible to summarize the entirety of the day’s events in a couple paragraphs, but note that the performances of our Kyokushin junior fighters and kata competitors were no less than outstanding, in particular, the youngest competitors, who at barely 5yrs old shined with intensity and focus. Seeing the dedication that goes into training for competition, and the courage that comes with accepting the competitive challenge should make the parents, supporters, and dojo-mates of every USWC competitor, proud.

Kyokushin is not for those light of heart or weak of spirit. Although tournaments are just one facet of Kyokushin, it is on stages such as this, where we are privileged to witness the heart and character of the participants, and the best of the Kyokushin Spirit displayed, Osu!


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2011

Another fantastic event was hosted by the IKO Kyokushinkaikan on Sunday, January 30th 2011. As has been customary for the last several years, the Japan America Theater of Little Tokyo, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, played host to the festivities. Presiding over the event was IKO International Department Director Shihan Katsuhito Gorai of New York and IKO-USA and Canada Branch Officials. Principal host organizer was IKO-USA Los Angeles Branch Chief, Shihan Taku Nakasaka and Kyokushin LA Dojo members.

The morning opened with Kyokushin kata competition. Some believe that Kyokushin is all about knockdown fighting. It is through kata however, that Kyokushin Karate can be fully expressed with fundamental fighting techniques that are not commonly utilized in competition. This year we had two divisions, and both won by local competitors. Miruyo Ito and Nariko Watanabe took the Advanced and Novice kata competition, respectively. Through their excellent control of speed, breathing, and power did the audience understand and experience the essence of advanced karate at its purest technical level.

As the morning progressed, the tranquility of kata turned into the intensity of kumite, beginning with tots no older than 4-5 years old. As the hours went by, and the divisions progressed, competitors got bigger and the punches and kicks rocked harder. This year demonstrated that the USWC is becoming more and more of an international phenomenon as competitors venture to our sunny shores from places all over the world like Kazakhstan, Romania, Costa Rica, Japan and Poland.

This year we had a single women’s division that was stacked with local favorites, familiar champions, and new faces ? in the end it was Agnieszka Winek that bested two powerhouses, Miruyo Ito in the first fight and Ewelina Czergemuga in the finals, to ultimately take the Championship. Agnieszka’s “never say die” spirit was critical to her strategy, particularly as she pushed forward despite the longer reach of Ewelina. In a long bout for 3rd place that went through two extensions, Miruyo finally bested another local April Kim, in a true endurance test.

The men’s lightweight was perhaps the crowd favorite, not only because was it won by local fighter Taison Naito, but because all the fighters showed balance of blinding speed and “big technique” showmanship. This category also gave us a preview of the talents of I-Shing Wu, who represented the USA at the 10th World Open Karate Championships held in Tokyo, November 2011. Unknown to most participants and audience members alike was Paeden Sakauov of Kazakhstan. Although dropping to 3rd place, Sakauov’s two fights were so full of flare that he took home the coveted Best Technique Award of the entire tournament.

The men’s middleweight, heavyweight, and superheavyweight categories did not disappoint fight fans with great hard hits that echoed off the walls, and combinations that marveled the audience. Though everyone performed brilliantly, in the end, it was the Europeans who dominated all three adult Men’s categories. Mirel Iacob was the champion of the hotly contested middleweight category, defeating local Armon Todd and Canadian favorite Michihiro Nagase, on his way to the top of the podium. The men’s heavyweight champion was undoubtedly Nicolae Stoian, a European champion and regular on the world Kyokushin stage. The superheavyweight champion was Arkadiusz Szir who also had convincing decisions to easily claim the title of the biggest men.

Overall, it was another excellent day of competition worthy of the Kyokushin international tournament circuit. Several noted fighters from all weight and age divisions were selected to bring their talents to Japan and showcase them at the 10th World Open Karate Championships in November 2011 and several more were inspired to train hard from that day forward to reach their own goals. Congratulations everybody, Osu!


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2010

On Sunday, January 31, 2010, IKO Kyokushinkaikan hosted its annual knockdown tournament, The US Weight Category Karate Championships, in Los Angeles, California. For the 6th consecutive year, Los Angeles welcomed over 111 competitors from around the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. The event was once again held at the Japan America Theater in Little Tokyo and welcomed over 1,000 spectators to witness competitors challenge themselves and others in this formidable pursuit of the Kyokushin spirit.

In the morning and early afternoon, the Preliminary Rounds served as the battleground for our junior and senior competitors displaying their skill in both kata (forms) and semi contact kumite (free fighting). Many of our competitors were fighting for their first time while others are quickly acquiring the fighting skill to compete worldwide. Experience aside, they all showed spirit and respect for sportsmanship that Kyokushin Karate considers one of its most important values.

Former world champion Miriyo Ito from Japan achieved a well-deserved 1st place in the Adult Kata division, performing Kanku kata with the intensity and focus of a champion. She was followed by Aleksandra Radziewcz from Poland who advanced from 3rd place in 2009. Wojciech Radzieqicz, also from Poland, followed closely in third place. All the kata performances showed excellent control of body and mind in the execution of these set routines.

As the afternoon progressed, adult fighters competed in our Main Event with full contact kumite. Both ladies and men are divided by weight, which makes for evenly matched bouts in the light, middle, heavyweight, and super heavyweight categories. After an intense and spirited bout, Chicago powerhouse Ewelina Czeremuga again dominated the women’s lightweight category after battling it out with Japanese fighter Miriyo Ito. Despite Ito's aggressive forward movement, persistence and "OSU" spirit, Ewelina's sharp low kicks and powerful punches proved too strong to overcome. Marta Lubos from Poland closely followed in a third place win.

Polish fighters continued to stand strong in the middle/heavy weight ladies category. However, with both power and precision, Yuma Tasaki from Japan claimed first place (also awarded with best spirit award). Although Polish fighters Anna Kaczynska (second place) and Katarzyna Michalak (third place) proved to be formidable opponents, they could not match the energy, ferocity and stamina of Tasaki.

In the men's lightweight category, seasoned fighter Victor Teixeira from The Netherlands (also given the best technique award) dominated this category with his calm, focused energy and sharp punches. Kotaro Zushi of Los Angeles made an impression with his intense fighting spirit and landed second place. Asel Al-Tamini, also from Los Angeles' Manhattan Beach dojo, managed to secure third place with impressive stamina against two fierce opponents.

This year's men's middleweight category offered more diversity with champions from Hawaii, Canada and Poland. A newcomer to adult fighting, up-and-coming fighter Sota Nakano from Hawaii surprised many with a first place win against Canadian fighter Michihiro Nagase. Daniel Bukowy from Poland held his third place position for the second consecutive year.

As the weights increase so does the fervor and intensity on the mat and from the audience. Despite their heavy weight, these fighters delivered their attacks with grace and precision, including Los Angeles dojo favorite Shohei Yamamoto who once again fought his way to the top after a toe-to-toe action packed bout with Demeautis Maxime from France. Canadian fighter Jordan Forget held his own and secured third place in this fierce and competitive category.

This year added a category for the super heavyweights. Marcin Sieradzki from Poland achieved first place with an ippon victory by a sharp and powerful upper cut punch to his second place opponent Mark Berg from Canada. Joe Nguyen from Los Angeles' Torrance dojo held on to third place.

The Los Angeles dojo of IKO Kyokushinkaikan looks forward to hosting the 7th Annual US Weight Category Karate Championships in 2011.


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2009

On Sunday, January 25, 2009, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan hosted its annual knockdown tournament, The US Weight Category Karate Championships, in Los Angeles, California. Yet another successful event, this year welcomed over 100 competitors from around the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. As in previous years, the event was held at the Japan America Theater in Little Tokyo and welcomed over 1,000 spectators to witness competitors challenge themselves and others in this formidable pursuit of strength and spirit.

In the morning and early afternoon, the Preliminary Rounds served as the battleground for our junior and senior competitors challenging themselves in both kata (forms) and semi contact kumite (sparring). Divisions for our juniors and seniors include kids as young as 4 years old and seniors no younger than 35. Many of our competitors were fighting for their first time while others are quickly acquiring the fighting skill to compete worldwide. Experience aside, they all showed robust spirit and respect for sportsmanship as a full crowd cheered them on.

As the afternoon progressed, adult fighters competed in our Main Event with full contact kumite. Both ladies and men are divided by weight, which makes for evenly matched bouts in the light, middle, heavyweight, and super heavyweight categories. Newcomers were also present in these ranks, though certain fighters clearly stood out due to their experience and successful tournament record on the international Kyokushin circuit.

For the fourth consecutive year, Gergana Kostova from Bulgaria was awarded 1st place in the Adult Kata division, followed by former world kata champion Miriyo Ito from Japan. Aleksandra Radziewcz, also of Bulgaria, took 3rd place, marking the first few of many victories for their homeland. All the kata performances, and particularly those of Kostova, showed excellent control of body and mind in the execution of these set routines. Chicago powerhouse Ewelina Czeremuga dominated the women’s lightweight category after battling it out with Bulgarian newcomer Stanislava Boycheva. Displaying powerful punches and sharp low kicks in characteristic aggressive style, she was determined to fight her way to victory. An up-and-coming fighter, Boycheva achieved a surprising victory over former world champion Miriyo Ito, 2nd and 3rd place respectively, both demonstrating impressive skill and spirit.

Bulgarian competitors continued to conquer in the middleweight ladies category where Nadezhda Petrova claimed first place against veteran fighter Lisa Clarke from Florida. Petrova's relentless upper cut punch and constant forward motion made her a difficult opponent to overcome. Both displayed the intensity and strength typically seen in the middleweight women’s category. Bulgaria showed its strength in the ladies heavyweight category as well with Anna Kaczynska taking 1st place against Esther Nathe of Canada. Kaczynska dominated this category with efficient use of power, smooth and quick footwork and fighting energy to the end! Chicago fighter Katarzyna Michalak managed to secure 3rd.

In typical lightweight fashion, the men showed excellent footwork and speed as they swiftly moved around the mat weaving in and out of attack range to unleash their power. Julien Marquette of Canda stood champion against Nikola Kirov of Bulgaria with rapid fire punches that won two "wazari" half points for upper cut punches, leading to a very exciting "ippon" victory. Masashi Odate of Los Angeles, with both speed and power, secured 3rd honors in what many would consider the more exciting category to watch.

Eastern European fighters dominated the middleweight category with champions from Romania, Bulgaria and Poland represented. Nicolae Stoian from Romania fought his way to first place with strong and forceful punches to the chest as well as sharp upper cuts against 2nd place victor Stiliyan Petrov from Bulgaria. Daniel Bukowy from Poland held his own up in the third/fourth place fight-off and left with a third place medal.

As the weights increase so does the fervor and intensity on the mat and from the audience. In the heavyweight category we watched as Los Angeles dojo favorite Shohei Yamamoto astonished the crowd by knocking out his semi-final opponent (ippon ? full point) with a back spin kick to the head. This category produced one action-packed fight after another, but Yamamoto prevailed despite tough bouts with Canadian fighter Jordan Forget (2nd place) as he executed sharp heavy kicks combined with floor sweeps as his opponent struggled to hold his ground. Kiril Boev of Bulgaria was honored for his 3rd place finish in this highly competitive, hotly contested category.

The goliaths are to be found in the Super Heavyweight category. Despite the Bulgarians demonstrating characteristic brawn in this category, they could not outshine Marcin Sieradzki of Chicago who took 1st place with effective low kicks and chest punches that eventually wore out his second place opponent. Petar Martinov of Bulgaria followed with 2nd and Yordan Yanev of Bulgaria finished in 3rd.

With another tournament behind us, the Los Angeles dojo of IKO Kyokushinkaikan plays host once again in 2010. Anticipation is high to see if the Bulgarians can maintain their dominance and which new faces will emerge to take the championship titles in the USA.


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2008

On Sunday, January 27, 2008, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan hosted its annual knockdown tournament, The US Weight Category Karate Championships, in Los Angeles, California. Another successful event, this year played host to over 100 competitors from Europe, Asia, and North America. The venue, as in previous years, was the Japan America Theater in Little Tokyo. Shihan Bobby Lowe, IKO International Committee Chairman and North American Representative, presided over the festivities.

As is customary, the morning and early noon Preliminary Rounds were the battleground for our junior and senior competitors displaying a wide variety of skill both in kata (forms) and semi contact kumite (sparring). Divisions for our juniors and seniors are done by age with some as young as 4 years old and seniors no younger than 35. Many of our competitors were fighting for their first time while others are quickly becoming seasoned veterans. Experience aside, they all showed their intense spirit and respect for sportsmanship in front of an exuberant crowd.

As the afternoon progressed, it was time for our Main Event with adult full contact kumite. Both ladies and men are divided by weight which makes for evenly matched bouts in the light, middle, heavyweight, and super heavyweight categories. Newcomers were also present in these ranks, though certain fighters clearly stood out due to their experience and successful tournament record on the international Kyokushin circuit.

In a repeat performance of 2006 and 2007, Gergana Kostova, from Bulgaria, was awarded 1st in the Adult Kata division, besting an international field of both men and women. Kiyoshi Nishii from Japan and Aneliya Asenova from Bulgaria were awarded 2nd and 3rd, respectively. All the kata performances, and particularly those of Kostova, showed excellent control of body and mind in the execution of these set routines. It was not the last we would see of Asenova, as she went on to fight under full contact kumite rules and was awarded 1st place in the ladies lightweight category outlasting the newcomer from Hong Kong, Carole Payre, in the final round.

Our Canadian neighbors fared well in the middleweight ladies category. Julie Lamarre and Julie Pesci, 1st and 3rd place, respectively, both displayed the intensity and strength reputed by Canadian women. Yet it was no surprise that one Bulgarian, Daniela Dineva, interrupted the Canadian sweep by making her way to the finals to take 2nd place. The Bulgarians could not be silenced in the ladies heavyweight category either, with Danaila Cherneva and Nadezhda Petrova taking 1st and 2nd place honors, respectively, and another Canadian Lindsey Heenan managing to secure 3rd.

In typical lightweight fashion, the men showed excellent footwork as they swiftly moved around the mat weaving in and out of attack range to unleash their barrage of strikes. Alexandar Petrov of Bulgaria stood champion with Piotr Jasaic from Chicago and Nikola Kirov of Bulgaria taking 2nd and 3rd honors, respectively, in what many would consider the most competitive bracket.

New Yorker and tournament newcomer, Eddie Potter, scored the ippon of the afternoon early in the middleweight category with a devastating high kick that floored his first round opponent. His performance secured him 3rd in what was looking again to be a landslide for the Bulgarians; Stiliyan Petrov took 1st with his compatriot Mladen Banushev taking 2nd place honors.

As the weights increase so does the electricity in the auditorium. Our heavyweight category final round saw Los Angeles dojo favorite Zensaku Munn, unscathed from his 3rd round success at the 9th World Open Tournament, against Japanese fighter Masaru Sato. In an action packed fight, Sato eventually prevailed and was subsequently crowned Champion after landing a solid knee kick. Canadian Victor Potvin gets honors for his 3rd place finish in this hotly contested category.

The goliaths are to be found in the Super Heavyweight category. Not to be taken lightly is New Yorker Slawek Was who is a regular face both here and in the annual All American Open held in his home state of New York. Was’ performance was consistent with past visits to Los Angeles, taking 1st place after an effective barrage of punches and low kicks that could be heard from the back row. Not sitting idly by were the courageous Bulgarians Petar Martinov and Hristo Hristov, who took 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

With another tournament behind us, the Los Angeles dojo of IKO Kyokushinkaikan is looking to 2009 to play host once again. Anticipation is high to see if the Bulgarians can repeat their dominance and which new faces will emerge to take the championship titles in the USA.


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2007

On Sunday, January 28, 2007, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan held the annual national knockdown karate championship, the US Weight Category Karate Championships, in Los Angeles, California. Over 100 competitors, coaches, officials and students were in attendance before a fervent crowd of nearly 500 in the aptly-named Japan-America Theater in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles.

Preliminary events began early on Sunday, with the youth, open and senior divisions for Kata followed by Semi-Contact Kumite (with protective gear) and Full-Contact Kumite. The semi and top finalists in all divisions went on to fight or perform in the evening rounds. The early rounds were ripe with burgeoning talent, from the tender age of 4yrs all the way to the senior division, and many fighting for the first time; it was an exciting start to a full day exhibiting some of the best of Kyokushin strength and determination.

Competitors flew in from all corners of the globe for this US national event that has become a precursor to the most selective competitive challenges in North America, in particular the North American Weight and the All American Open. The presence of so many renowned international competitors at these US Weight Championships makes for splendid camaraderie and exemplary Kyokushin Spirit here in Los Angeles.

The Main Event began in the mid-afternoon, with a full house of eager and involved fans. IKO International Committee Chairman and North American Representative, Shihan Bobby Lowe, opened the event eloquently with good wishes and a reminder of the Kyokushin Spirit heralding mutual respect and appreciation, the spirit of “OSU”.

In the Advanced Kata division, Bulgarian Kata Champion, Georgana Kostova again took the title, this time from the petite Japanese Kata Champion, Miruyo Ito. In the Women’s Light-Middleweight Kumite division, a combined category, Miruyo Ito did prevail however, defeating Ewelina Czeremuga of Chicago, USA in a fiery match between the tall and the small that revealed just how the art of Kyokushin can be drawn. As a sidebar, Miruyo Ito went on to become Lightweight Champion of the 2007 Women’s World in Tokyo just 3 months later…

In the Men’s Lightweight division, Costa Rica’s Julio Del Valle fought swiftly and with sharp, fluid movement to defeat Japan’s Michiaki Motegi. ?Julio Del Valle then went on to fight on the North American Regional Team in Tokyo at the 9th World Open where he fought exceptionally well for the full match-time and a respectable run opposite All Japan Champion Kentaro Tanaka.

In the Men’s Middleweight division, Damian Kolano of New York, USA and Tomasz Pelczar, also of NY, USA fought head to head, as only two Dojo-mates can. After the first minute, it was clear Damian Kolano would not let his comrade muscle his way to the top however, and so he wasted no more time in collecting the win and his first ever title match.

In the Men’s Heavyweight division, Bulgarian Zahari Damyanov was a relative unknown, but proved to be a powerhouse candidate supremely primed for world caliber competition. In the final opposite the hometown favorite, Shohei Yamamoto, Damyanov fought clean and simple to his eventual win, but not without an exceptional showing by Yamamoto, who really has surprised us all with his rise from humble beginnings to glory on the international Kyokushin circuit ? he’s still a teenager.

In the Men’s Super Heavyweight division, typically the monster mash of many weight division events, two towering but unusually nimble-footed giants, Slawek Was of New York, USA and Luis Diego Giralt of Costa Rica faced off. It was a repeat showing for both, who had stood firm opposite each other a year earlier here in LA, when Giralt took the title. This time however, Was was no wuss, mounting a full scale assault on Giralt that allowed Was’ underdog status to be a thing of the past.


US Weight Category Karate Championships 2006

On Sunday, February 6, 2005, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan presented the 1st U.S. Weight Category Karate Championships here in Los Angeles, California. Over one hundred competitors, coaches, IKO officials, and over a thousand spectators were in attendance.

The day began bright and early with Kata in both intermediate and advanced divisions. The top four finalists from the advanced division went on to compete for the Championship title in an evening run-off. Competitors flew in from nearly ten countries around the world and represented the diversity and spirit of Kyokushin Karate.

Kumite events saw semi-contact competitors in junior and senior divisions in the morning. The full contact male and female competitors in weight category divisions were at the afternoon’s main event.

The main event began at 2:00 p.m. with a full house. The much enjoyed kids demonstration featured an unforgettable presentation by Shihan Akimoto and his daughter- All Japan Junior Kata Champion- Rina Akimoto. Thereafter, the competitors marched in. Kancho Shokei Matsui spoke eloquently to the heart of all participants.

In the advanced Kata division, Takamasa Tanaka, prevailed over two excellent contenders: Anne Yalkabova from New York and Kiyoshi Nishi of Japan In the women’s light weight category, Jennifer Campoy became the 1st champion of the U.S. Weight Category event. Anne Yalkabova was 2nd place. In the Women’s heavy weight category, Shayna Rimel from Manhattan Beach, California came away with the first champion title after battling it out with another Manhattan Beach dojo fighter, Dee Dee Rodriguez. Lisa Clarke of Tampa, Florida came in at third place.

In the Men’s light weight, Tomofusa Yamanaka of Japan defeated all his opponents with several knock outs. Second place was Tomasz Pelczar and third place was Masa Nakao.

In the Middle weight division, Katsuhiko Nakakuki from New York and Seiji Hori from Los Angeles were the finalists. Nakakuki performed stable kumite and defeated Hori from Los Angeles in an aggressive battle. Vancouver resident, Michihiro Nagase, finished in third place.

In the Men’s heavy weight, no one could stop Luis Diego Giralt from Costa Rica. Slawomir Was from N.Y was second place and Stephane Parent from Canada, third place.


The 1st U.S. Weight Category Karate Championships

On Sunday, February 6, 2005, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan presented the 1st U.S. Weight Category Karate Championships here in Los Angeles, California. Over one hundred competitors, coaches, IKO officials, and over a thousand spectators were in attendance. The day began bright and early with Kata in both intermediate and advanced division. The top four finalists from the advanced division went on to compete for the Championship title in an evening run-off. Competitors flew in from nearly ten countries around the world and represented the diversity and spirit of Kyokushin Karate. Kumite events saw semi-contact competitors in junior and senior divisions in the morning. The full contact male and female competitors in weight category divisions were at the afternoon's main event. The main event began at 2:00 p.m. with a full house. The much enjoyed kids demonstration featured an unforgettable presentation by Shihan Akimoto and his daughter- All Japan Junior Kata Champion- Rina Akimoto. Thereafter, the competitors marched in. Kancho Shokei Matsui spoke eloquently to the heart of all participants. In the advanced Kata division, Takamasa Tanaka, prevailed over two excellent contenders: Anne Yalkabova from New York and Kiyoshi Nishi of Japan In the women's light weight category, Jennifer Campoy became the 1st U.S. Weight Category champion. Anne Yalkabova was 2nd place, which is equivalent to the advanced kata division. Women's heavy weight category, Shayna Rimel from Manhattan Beach, California came away with the first champion title after battling it out with another Manhattan Beach dojo fighter, Dee Dee Rodriguez. Lisa Clarke of Tampa, Florida came in at third place. In the Men's light weight, Tomofusa Yamanaka of Japan defeated all his opponents with several knock outs. Second place was Tomasz Pelczar and third place was Masa Nakao. Middle weight division, Katsuhiko Nakakuki from New York and Seiji Hori from Los Angeles were the finalists. Nakakuki performed stable kumite and defeated Hori from Los Angeles in an aggressive battle. Vancouver resident, Michihiro Nagase, finished in third place. Men's heavy weight, no one could stop Luis Diego Giralt from Costa Rica. Slawomir Was from N.Y was second place and Stephane Parent from Canada third place.