2016 Tournament Dates Set

posted Dec 17, 2015, 10:20 AM by Joe Elliott
The dates have been announced for the coming year's two major annual tournaments:
  • The East Coast Shotokan Karate Association (ECSKA) regional championships will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2016 in Elverson, PA (near the western end of PA route 401, before Mograntown).
  • The International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) US national championships and goodwill tournament will take place on the weekend of Friday - Sunday, November 11 - 13, 2016 in historic Valley Forge, PA (check-in on Friday evening, elimination matches on Saturday, finals matches and closing ceremonies on Sunday).
Tournament competition is an important part of your development as a karate student. These competitions can help provide a source of motivation for training and practicing, a tangible goal to work toward in the coming months, and an opportunity to meet new people who share your interest in karate, and compare your knowledge, understanding and progress in karate against those of our peers. A tournament is a form of special training, and it should be treated as a very big, very special karate class. Senseis Funakoshi, Nakayama and Okazaki have each had their own ways of saying that winning or losing isn't what karate is about, and if you focus on victory and defeat, you're missing the point, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't compete. Tournaments help us focus, help us strive, and allow us to push each other, and be pushed, to improve.

All youth students age 7 and up are encouraged to participate (if you're younger than 7, or older than 17 but not a brown or black belt, you should come and watch, and support your classmates!) We won't be holding normal classes at The Empty Hand on those Saturdays, so your training will be the tournaments.

Youth competition will be divided by age and by rank, and the sparring competition for students age 14 and older is divided into girls' and boys' divisions. Adult competition is limited to brown and black belt students, who will be divided by age (18-44, 45-54, 55+) and rank (brown belts are separated from black belts), with separate men's and women's competitions. The top three competitors in each division are awarded medals for kata, and the top four for kumite (sparring).

Kata eliminations are one-on-one; competitors are paired together, and they both perform the same kata at the same time (the kata is chosen at the start of each match by the referee - ask your instructor which kata you may be called on to perform, so you can practice them between now and the tournament). Four judges and a referee choose a winner in each pair, and that contestant will be allowed to continue in the next round. This elimination continues for as many rounds as necessary to whittle the field down to four remaining competitors; the final round is individual kata performance, and instead of performing an assigned kata beside an opponent, you choose whatever kata you want, and perform it alone. Instead of choosing a winner, the judges and referee assign a score based on how well you do. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the three competitors with the highest scores.

Kumite matches follow the same ladder elimination method. Contestants are paired, and face off in three-step sparring (for beginners), one-step sparring (beginner and intermediate), semi-free sparring (intermediate and advanced), or free sparring (advanced students only). The judges and referee choose a winner, who advances to the next round. In this case, the gold medal goes to the top competitor, the silver to his or her last opponent, and bronze to both of the remaining semi-finalists.

ISKF sparring gloves and a mouthguard are required for all competitors. Green belts and above should already own gloves, but if you need to order a pair of gloves, a mouthpiece or a new gi for the tournament, be sure to place your order early! Sparring gloves in particular are frequently out of stock, but if you don't have gloves and a mouthpiece, you won't be allowed to compete! Don't wait until the last minute to order your gloves! Also, your gi should have come with an ISKF patch. If you haven't attached it to your gi, please make sure you do so before the tournament. The patch must be sewn in place; the plastic backing is not an iron-on adhesive, and will not secure your patch if ironed. If you lost your patch, please order a new one.

The venues, hotels and entry deadlines have not yet been announced for either tournament. We'll keep you up to date, so stay tuned. If you have any questions, ask me at the dojo before or after your class, or send me an email. Good luck, have fun, and keep practicing!