HAMILTON – The World Karate Organization (WKO) hosted the world karate championship at the Hamilton Convention Centre this past weekend. A fraction of a point separated gold, silver and bronze winners in the Katas in most cases.
Don Warrener’s Martial Arts Academy of Brantford hosted the event as dogo and welcomed many countries — having their flags adorning the walls. In between the host nation flag of Canada and the guest nation of China hung the Hiawatha flag. The hanging of the Hiawatha flag is a formal acknowledgement of the Haudenosaunee as an independent united nation and treaty territory.
The opening procession lead by the RCMP was followed by two Haudenosaunee representatives, Gutch Salinas and the Two Row Times’ own Chezney Martin, who were then followed in by the participating countries and the cadets ending the procession.
After the anthems were played Salinas and Martin performed traditional smoke dances to the audience.
Team Canada comprised of dojos from British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Other countries included Sweden, St. Kitts/Neves, Pakistan, Ukraine, U.S., Georgia, New Zealand and more. There were various styles of martial arts including Okinawan Goju Ryu and Shotokan karatedo; and Korean Taekwondo.
The various weapons used in the tournament were traditional Okinawan. The origins of all these weapons is that they were farmer’s tools. When the Satsuma samurai clan from Japan took over Okinawa in 1609 they oppressed the Okinawans. They took all their weapons away only leaving one knife tied to a chain in the centre of villages to cut meat.
The samurai were also extremely cruel. They tested their swords to see if it was a three man sword or a five man sword. What they would do is force the Okinawans to lie down on each other and cut them in half. This brought about the advent of hidden Okinawan weapons to defend against the cruelty. The nunchaku was used for thrashing wheat; The Kama to cut rice; The Tonfa, or today known as a night stick, was a handle from a rice grinder.
The same hidden principles were in Karate katas. The Okinawans would practice the choreographed fighting techniques hidden in ceremonial or social dances. Kara-te-do means empty hand way.
Saturdays part of the competition was for the youth or kyu belts. The competitions included boys and girls divisions in different age groups competing in weapons, kata/choreographed movement and kumite/sparring. The host Brantford dojo did quite well on this day winning many medals amidst strong international competition.
Sunday was for the adults and 91 black belts competed. The opening of the days events started with the male youth of Team New Zealand conducting a highly spirited Haka dance. The ancestral war cry, dance or challenge of the Maori people of New Zealand was well received by those spectating. It was followed by New Zealand team katas performed by the women and men.
The tournament ended with new friendships and memories that will last forever. Karate isn’t about winning or losing but the perfection of character of its participants.