Karate Combat finished up its third season Thursday crowning their first ever bantamweight champion in controversial fashion. Ilies Mardhi of France seemed to have a small edge over Ireland's Eoghan Chelmiah after five rounds of fighting but when the judges saw it as a draw triggering an extra round, Mardhi couldn't continue claiming a broken hand and the title went to Chelmiah.
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In matters of karate kata, there are all sorts of purported explanations for what's really going on. What appears to be a simple step sideways, we're confidentially told, is actually a clever foot sweep. Or an entry into a grappling position.

After we become trusted students, our teachers demonstrate that what looks like the mere clenching of a fist is actually an ingenious way of grabbing an opponent's wrist and applying a devastating lock that will have him writhing on the ground.

The explanations invariably imply that the "outer" movements of a kata are only the superficial crust of the karate pie. The layer of apples, peaches or cherries below the observable crust — the "inner" stuff of the pie — is the real taste of karate, we're told.

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Photos Courtesy of Sean Kanan

A Personal Journey to Prove It's Not and to Reignite the Warrior Spirit

Back in 2018, when Cobra Kai was just a hit on YouTube Red and not yet a megahit on Netflix, I met Sean Kanan at the Dragonfest martial arts expo in Burbank, California. My main reason for approaching him, of course, was to ask if he would be reprising his role as Mike Barnes, the "bad boy" of The Karate Kid Part III, in the sequel series. He said that he'd love to but that nothing had been decided. Afterward, we struck up a conversation, during which I learned that Kanan is much more than an actor who played a martial artist; he has a long history in the arts and still trains. We stayed in touch over the years, and when he called to let me know he was about to take the trip that's chronicled here, I jumped at the chance to get the report for Black Belt.— Robert W. Young, Editor-in-Chief

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A Critical Look at Chojun Miyagi's Landmark 1936 Lecture on the Origins of Karate

We know that karate was developed in the Ryukyu Islands, an archipelago located southwest of Japan. The largest of the Ryukyu is, of course, Okinawa.

The people of the Ryukyu shared a common ancestry with the people of Japan and spoke a language, called Uchinaguchi, that had a common origin with the language of Japan. This is why many of the words we use in karate are actually Uchinaguchi words. Before 1429, there were three warring factions on Okinawa: Hokuzan (literally, "northern mountain"), Chuzan ("middle mountain") and Nanzan ("southern mountain"). In 1429 Chuzan emerged victorious, and all the Ryukyu Islands became unified under its first king, Sho Hashi.But precisely when on this timeline did karate develop? The origins of the art are obscure — and have been made even more so by the passage of time and the spread of myths and misconceptions. Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate, addressed this subject:"

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