Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Saturday and my weekend rendezvous led me to our premiere sports events hosting grounds at the Kasarani Grounds. I had been dragged out of bed to go watch some sport that most young men love imitating from the Kung-Fu movies- Shotokan Karate!
But as is symptotic with most Kenyan sports events, the place was deserted for the better part of the earlier morning and was it not for the presence of white attired guys, you’d feel lost too. The other comforting presence was that of the South Africans invited to grace the event.
My accomplice and I had to wait for at least 4 hours before the event started in earnest and the officials didn’t make much of an apology. They hadn’t even secured a public address system for use over the weekend leading to some embarrassing moments. Once they started though, all this was forgotten.
Oh, for those who came in late, Shotokan Karate is a form of martial arts tracing its origins in Japan but now practised across the globe. A typical Shotokan tournament has 2 sections;
Kata-which features a string of movements done by an individual or team showing the mastery and grace of, moves (different katas for different belt grades). It is also necessary to note the movement, breathing (kime) and strength are carefully watched by the judges here. The most points scored wins you the category you compete in.It’s almost like choreography or routine dancing.
Kumite- is more of a mock fight between 2 individuals where one tries to score points by hitting the opponents at areas below the head and above the navel-though sweeps off your feet are allowed. A perfect score would entail hitting the target with right technique and executing the move to its completion. The kicks, punches, and other techniques are usually controlled though once a while this is forgotten and a bloody nose and broken limbs are not rare.
Back to Kasarani, Saturday had the competitors exhibit their katas. As expected though, the South Africans swept the locals with their good movement and mastery of the techniques-though our locals seemed to lick their boots all too easily. Too bad with the disorganisation, I couldn’t muster enough courage to find myself there a second day.
The sport though is integral to our lives not just in self-defence but keeping fit and clear of the mind as practised by ancient Japanese rituals.