Sport Karate

European Sport Karate Competitors Continue to Evolve

As the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has increasingly restricted international travel, I have developed a new appreciation for the ability to travel abroad. Just a few short months ago I traveled to the Irish Open with Team Paul Mitchell Karate to host a seminar and compete at the event. I've personally been teaching seminars and private lessons at the Irish Open for six years now. The first year that I traveled there, coaches and fellow competitors informed me that the level of difficulty in the creative and extreme divisions was similar to that of the United States back in the 90's, when doing backflips and throwing weapons was first becoming popular in competition. I couldn't help myself but to try to figure out why this was the case, and do my best to help teach these competitors the more difficult techniques.


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Many Different Organizations Govern this Unique Sport

Sport Karate is an umbrella term that refers to martial arts competitions in which a martial artist from any style is welcome to compete. A wide variety of artists from karatekas to kung fu specialists test their skills against one another in divisions like forms, weapons, point sparring, breaking, and more. These divisions are broken down even further to specify what type of performance is expected for a given competition. For example, an extreme weapons division may require a certain number of acrobatic techniques to be combined with foundational martial arts techniques, but the competitor's stylistic background will likely determine what kind of foundational techniques they use.


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Open Martial Arts Tournaments Shifting Online due to COVID-19

The North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) announced in a press release on Friday that the circuit would be sanctioning a Virtual World Tour for the tournaments that have shifted to online platforms. The first tournaments to be included are the AmeriKick Internationals and the Ocean State Grand Nationals, with the possibility that other events may follow.


Virtual martial arts tournaments have increased in popularity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on large meetings. These tournaments are primarily intended for forms and weapons competitors who participate through video submission or livestream, depending on the event. In their press release, NASKA clarified that fighting and team divisions would not be included in the online tournaments and that a few divisions may be combined.

The online versions of the AmeriKick Internationals (June 26-27) and Ocean State Grand Nationals (July 17-19) will feature NASKA rules, judges, and scoring style. These events will not reward competitors with points for the official NASKA world ratings, but points will be awarded for a special rating system specific to the NASKA Virtual Tour.

COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Another International Martial Arts Tournament to Postpone

The Battle of Atlanta World Karate Championships is a sport karate tournament sanctioned by the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA). Promoters Greg and Toby Ruth announced today that the event has been rescheduled for July 23-25, 2020. The tournament will still be held at its original venue, the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. The announcement follows the postponement or cancellation of many other world-ranked martial arts events around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The U.S. Capitol Classics and the U.S. Open are other NASKA world tour events that have decided to postpone their events, to November 20-21 and December 18-19 respectively. The Quebec Open, AmeriKick Internationals, and Ocean State Grand Nationals have all been forced to cancel their events. The AmeriKick Internationals and Ocean State Grand Nationals will be hosting virtual tournaments to compensate for their cancellation, and other tournaments are expected to announce decisions regarding virtual tournaments in the coming weeks.

2020 has seen the loss of two of the greatest martial artists in Sport Karate history. Steve “Nasty" Anderson, one of the greatest point fighters of all time, and Kevin Thompson, widely considered the greatest all-around sport karate competitor ever, both succumbed to neurodegenerative diseases.

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