A year of no in-person tournaments spawned innovation and creativity in terms of karate competition. Virtual Events were suddenly abound in the Sport Karate World and of the many, many options out there, three stood above the rest.
Virtual Events in concept are not a complicated idea. Camera + Form + Judges = Event.
But, between the following three events, we can see that while the general concept might be the same, there are differences of idea and execution between all of them that create a unique style to each.
One of the biggest debates was Live versus Pre-Recorded Competition. There were benefits to both. In Pre-Recorded events, the athlete was given a unique opportunity to ensure their performance was as clean and technically perfect as they wished. As well as letting many athletes record their forms for an entire weekend of competition in an afternoon. This created some truly great videos of athletes doing amazing routines, but, many argued, it removed a factor of competition that many stressed was the most important: pressure.
In 2020 and 2021 NASKA offered a virtual option for competition
The NASKA Virtual Tour selected the pre-recorded option for the remainder of its 2020 season and for select events in the 2021 season. In addition to the forms and weapons divisions traditionally seen in the virtual events, they also had a sparring section where athletes would showcase skills and drills. It was a cool idea that addressed the other major question many virtual event promoters received:
“How’re you gonna spar virtually?”
Well, you can’t.
But the NASKA Virtual Tour gave it their best shot and paired their incredibly competitive circuit with the pre-recorded option to give every athlete the chance to show their absolute best.
WKC Virtual League:
The WKC Virtual League is a pathway to the WKC World Championships
The WKC has always been about international competition and creating a supportive, and competitive atmosphere that crosses oceans and language. It’s been massively successful and runs strong competition in Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The WKC Virtual Tour seemed to act as a sudden gateway for so many Latin American competitors to jump in and showcase their skills.
WKC Virtual Tour ran live events. Meaning there was an active Zoom connection between all the athletes and judges where divisions ran from morning until early afternoon. This brought back, to an extent, the element of pressure and support that many competitors love from in-person events. In addition, it brought so many cultures, languages, styles, and amazing athletes together for each event.
With the presidents of the USA, Canada, and Guatemala hosting the events with qualified judges, the WKC Virtual Circuit was massively successful and is continuing into this year. The opportunity it provided to so many athletes, many of whom are still in strict quarantine/socially distancing situations, was incredible. Finally, top-ranked WKC Virtual Tour Athletes were invited to the WKC World Championships to compete with the very best around and represent their country. The next WKC Virtual Tour Event is Plowden’s Virtual WKC Virtual Qualifier on February 20th. Check it out on the SportMartialArts.com streams and feeds to support those athletes in their quest for being the best in the world. Learn more about the WKC Virtual League here: https://www.mataction.com/WKC-World
SportMartialArts.com Virtual Tour (SMA-VT):
Having advocated live, virtual competition since its very first event in April of 2020, the SMA Virtual Tour has run over 50 events in the last 18 months. It strives to create a supportive, competitive, and fun atmosphere for all competitors and skill levels. If you’re a brand new competitor looking to try something out from the comfort of your home, or if you’re a seasoned vet looking for some additional challenges, the SMA Virtual Tour has something for you.
In addition to the traditional forms divisions, it also showcases, breaking, teams (sometimes done in two different states simultaneously), and some fun divisions such as pet tricks, Toilet Paper Kicking Challenge, and The Wheel of Death - a spinning wheel that lands on a style of competition, or sometimes something ridiculous, and the competitor has to compete with a Japanese form, Extreme Form, Beatbox, Try Wushu, or occasionally breakdance. It brings a lot of laughs and provides a safe space for everyone to try something totally out of their wheelhouse.
With top Competitors from the NASKA circuit and the WKC as well as new faces coming in from all over the world, it’s a competitive and supportive atmosphere for all. Athletes accrue points from each event and booster events throughout the year with the goal of being invited to the Isolation Invitational - where they battle with the top competitors of the year for the Title of SMA Virtual Tour World Champion.
The opening event SMA Virtual Tour is coming up on March 20th - the Quarantine Qualifier, and we can’t wait to see everyone there!
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