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The 19th World Karate Championships in Tokyo 2008 - Reports

Live reports from Japan

Posted 12th November 2008 (UK Time)
Travel Back In Time

Sunday morning - 58 family & supporters boarded coaches for the 1 hr journey from Kobe to Kyoto where we immediately were taken on a wonderful tour of Kinkakuji (Golden) temple and the Nijojo Castle which set the mood for our Kyoto stay after a very nice lunch the tour continued with visits to the Heian Shrine (dropping in to the nearby Butokuden Martial Arts centre to watch a children's Karate competition) then finally to the Kiyomizu shrine before getting to our hotel around 6-00pm. We were very fortunate to have the assistance of Bryan Huddard, a well-known martial arts teacher originally from New Zealand but resident for more than 40 years in Japan.

On Monday another very full day with a 3½ hr visit to the 1000yr old temple complex on Mt Hiei where we attended a lecture on meditation and experienced first hand the discipline and benefits of traditional Japanese culture After a very sparse lunch with the monks we travelled by coach for another 2 hours to Nara to visit Todaiji Temple over 1200 years old and the largest wooden building in the world. We returned to our hotel around 6-00pm and as described by a number of us we were all “templed out”.

Coincidentally Group D arrived in Tokyo for their week's stay and are firmly ensconced in the Keio Plaza Hotel.

Meanwhile on Monday morning very early the team and all the staff travelled by 1st class bullet train to Tokyo to take up residence at the Olympic centre to make their final preparations for the Worlds.

Tuesday saw the first full day workout in Tokyo for the team with the benefits of their 5-day acclimatisation beginning to show in their training so that by Thursday they should be at their peak.

Meanwhile in Kyoto we had a free morning on Tuesday then off for a very traditional lunch at an organic sushi restaurant in the suburbs of Kyoto before a coach trip to visit an authentic ninja museum in Shiga prefecture with a guided tour from the owner and a lot of input from local Bryan Huddart that was greatly appreciated by all of us.

Apparently you are all enjoying this blog as the hits and your enthusiastic comments on our website have gone through the roof since we left UK!

On Wednesday we had an easy morning with a visit to the Kyoto Handicraft Centre and 2 nearby Martial Arts shops then on Wednesday afternoon we all made our way by bullet train and local subway to the suburbs of Osaka for an evening of fun and frolics with a very nice Shito-ryu group under the guidance of Fujita sensei. We expected an interesting time but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip so far with a training session that included about 50 children from 3 yrs old then a University karate team and seniors which when added to the 38 people we fielded produced just the right mix for a great social evening. Fujita-sensei organised a little competition between the young University team and our “oldies” which included Carl Linley, Tony,Gray, Steve Scott, Damian Bowen, Martyn Dean among others and the match was held in a great atmosphere of friendship and fun.

Then we had demonstrations by both the locals and us of kata and finally I was hauled out to give a demo of Karate Jutsu with the Polish students. We exchanged gifts and promised to stay in touch so we finally got back to Kyoto around midnight after a thoroughly great evening.

We are off to Tokyo on Thursday morning for the final leg of our trip and hopefully fruitful trips to the Budokan for 4 days to support our team.

Posted 8th November 2008 (UK Time)
All Systems Are Go . . .

Wednesday 5th November saw the 2nd part of our group arrive in Kobe from London which now meant we numbered over 80 members with a further 20 plus due on or around the 10th Nov.

The team were out for an early morning run in sunny warm weather and by Wed midday the team and its coaches were established at the Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club where they have the complete run of all the facilities while they are in Kobe. So far the team have shown an ever improving build-up to next week's Worlds. Thursday, in very nice weather, the team had their early morning run then 3 separate work sessions under the watchful eyes of all the coaches interspersed with video analysis of their earlier efforts.

Friday was a rest day which the athletes really appreciated and which gave them a day to explore this fascinating port city in West Japan. Saturday was decidedly cooler and rainy so the early morning run was skipped in favour of extended 3 session work-outs again. I spoke to the coaches tonight (Sat) and all of them praised the team for their application and continuing improvement.

Against this hard work ethic all of us “hangers on” are having a great time. Wednesday was a free day when we arranged our Shinkanses (bullet train) First Class rail passes that allow us unlimited travel in Japan for 2 weeks on the Shinkansen. The group is a very good mix of ages, interests and nationalities (we have 22 Poles with us). On Thursday we went to train at the Shotokan dojo in Hyogo Kenritsu University with young and very timid students who wondered what had happened when this load of big foreigners descended on them. We all had a good time and to reciprocate we invited the University members to the KRAC on Thurssay evening for a small reception and to watch a demonstration of Karate for the local Kobe community. The demonstration was very well received with Jonathon Mottram giving his usual superb kata display. Following the demonstration a presentation was made to the Hyogo Kenritsu University members and we have been asked to return again in the not too distant future.

Friday was another very full day with an early start by coach then onto the Bullet train for the 1½ hr journey to Hiroshima. We boarded our special coaches at Hiroshima with English speaking guides and proceeded to the Peace Park and Museum then for a superb buffet lunch at the ANA hotel before boarding the coaches for a drive to the port where we took a ship to the wonderful 1000 year old plus Miyajima shrine, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the torii (gate) stands in the sea. We were very fortunate to see a real traditional Japanese wedding taking place and we all voted that the day was a great success as we sped back to Kobe on the bullet train on Friday evening.

Saturday was free-day with some of the group going to Himeji to see the famous historical “White Egret” castle and reenact the scenes from James Bond (You Only Live Twice) movie that were shot there in the 1960’s . Other members of the group went to Osaka to visit dojo’s and/or the castle. One thing we all realise is that without the excellent professional services of KNT (one of Japan’s largest travel groups) the logistics of this trip for 100 people would have been almost impossible. Nothing has been too much trouble for the KNT staff who are with the group all the time during travel to solve any problems and there have been a few with lost passports, lost cash and changes in itineraries (all the forementioned ended in the right result).

On Sunday we leave Kobe and the team and move onto Kyoto for 5 days. Lets hope we enjoy ourselves as much as we have done over the past 5 days. On Monday the team leaves by Bullet train for Tokyo and the Olympic Village to start their final preparations for the World’s starting Thursday.

Posted 4th November 2008 (UK time)
Off to the Land of the Rising Sun

EKF athletes, coaches, family members and supporters got up early on Monday 3rd and travelled from all over England to meet at the Holiday Inn Heathrow at 3.00pm in preparation for the trip to Japan and the 19th World Karate Championships. This first group totalled 58 and following a comprehensive talk from the the organisers KNT and the main sponsors CYBERBUDO the team posed for photos in their new track suits, T-shirts, sweaters etc, then we all went to terminal 3 for the 7-00pm direct flight to Tokyo.

The flight took 11hrs 40 mins then we changed planes arriving at our destination Kobe at 10-00pm local time (1.00pm UK time) making a total of 18 hrs main travel. I must say there is a very good spirit among the team and they all seem very well focussed which we hope can be brought to a sharp edge over the next 10 days so the team is at its peak from the 13th -16th for the competition in Tokyo. The second group of supporters, family and friends left Heathrow on Tues following exactly the same route as the first group and are expected to arrive here in Kobe around 9-00pm Wed evening (local time).

The third group leaves London on the 9th Nov direct to Tokyo which means we will have over 100 people from the EKF which I think is very very good. We have come a long way and for most of the group it’s the realisation of a lifetime's wish to visit the cradle of Karate and experience for themselves the real Japan while they can. We will bring you a daily update and regular photos of the trip - so stay tuned to this site.

Posted 1st November 2008
The Pain and The Glory . . . DEJA VU

With only a few days to go more than 100 members and supporters of the EKF are preparing to leave for Japan for the 19th World Karate Championships in Tokyo from 13th – 16th Nov. The team and officials number 21 and for everyone this is the one place they all want to do well. The excitement and thrill of competing in the cradle of Karate-Do has built up over the past 18 months to the realisation that this time round the English team will compete against more than 100 national teams to see how good they really are.

What a big difference to 38 years ago at the first World Chapionships in Tokyo / Osaka in 1970. To put things in perspective please see the following photo, who do you recognise? (see below). Well on this trip three of us will be there as we were in 1970 namely a young Ticky (fifth from left) and Brian Hammond (2nd from left) and as in 1970 yours truly was waiting in Tokyo to greet the team after I had worked in the Zenkuren FAJKO (All Japan Karate Organisation) HQ in Tokyo for 2 years to bring the first Championships to fruition.

From left; Stan Knighton, Brian Hammond, Brian Fitkin, Steve Arneil, Ticky Donovan, Hamish Adams and 3 guesses?

If I remember correctly the 1970 team were delayed in reaching Japan and they finally did it after 3 days travel. Despite this there was a really great team spirit although the team came from 4 different styles in England.

Enough of yesterday and we all hope the thrill of representing their country will lift today's team to the highest level of performance. I know how hard it has been to organise this team’s selection and then arrange sponsorship. I am sure that to get this team to Tokyo has cost more than any other English team over the past 40 years and despite no funding from Sport England the EKF is sending its team in style and with its head held high. Over the past 18 months the EKF has led by example and fulfilled its promises and developed the EKF to undoubtedly the only effective governing body for karate in England. As I have said many times in the past “words are cheap, money buys the whiskey” and the time is coming for all karate clubs in England to be objective and decide where their future wil be best looked after. Please watch our website as we send back daily photos and video streaming of the Tokyo competition, as we did with great success in the last Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Wishing everyone the very best,
Terry Wingrove
On behalf of the major sponsors CYBERBUDO

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