Karate is a new sport on the Olympic program, making its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games along with four other new sports. It is no surprise that this Japanese sport has been able to slip into the Olympics in Tokyo, but its time on the program may be short-lived.
Karate is a martial art originally from Japan, which involves punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes, and some open-hand techniques like knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes.
For some, karate may seem similar to the Korean martial art of taekwondo, which is also on the Olympic program. There seems to be a high number of combat sports on the Olympic program: karate joins boxing, Judo, taekwondo, fencing and wrestling. For fans of martial arts, and there are lots of them around the world, that may not be a problem.
What it involves
There are two karate competitions at the 2021 Olympic Games, kumite and kata. There will be eight gold medals up for grabs: six in kumite and two for kata. There will be sixty competitors competing in the kumite competition, and twenty in the kata competition.
In a kumite match, two athletes face each other with small gloves and foot protection, with the goal of scoring points using kicks, punches, strikes, throws and sweeps over a three minutes period. There are three weight classes (men: <67 kg, −75 kg, +75 kg, women: <55 kg, −61 kg, +61 kg). The winner is the first to score eight points more than their opponent, or the fighter with the most points at the end. In the matter of a tie, the contestant that scored the first unopposed point wins. Don’t expect lots of hits, it is not a full-contact sport, the competitors show full self-control in each technique enabling them to stop the motion suddenly only millimetres before coming into contact.
The competitors in each weight category will advance through an elimination round to reach the semi-final, and eventually the gold medal bout.
In the kata competition, competitors are judged on the power and correctness of their techniques. Competitors take turns in demonstrating his or her kata. The result is judged by a panel of judges, each awarding a score based on technical and athletic performance. The two highest and lowest scores are discarded to determine the winner.
Where to see it
The karate competition will be held at the Nippon Budokan on August 5-7, 2021. The indoor venue located in Tokyo’s Kitanomaru Park hosted judo events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Make sure you have a look as karate might not be appearing at the Olympics again. The sport has not been included on the program for the 2024 Paris Olympics. It looks like it is literally getting the karate chop.