Karate

The International Federation of Karate is reporting its founder, British kyokushin karate pioneer Steve Arneil, passed away on Friday at the age of 86. Perhaps best known as the coach of the 1975 British world championship team, Arneil was born in South Africa and learned judo and Chinese martial arts as a youngster. He later traveled to China and South Korea to continue studying martial arts, eventually making his way to Japan where, in 1961, he was introduced to kyokushin karate founder Mas Oyama.

Arneil spent four years at Oyama's school during kyokushin's formative period, training alongside many of the style's early notables such as Tadashi Nakamura and Kenji Kurosaki. In 1965 he moved to London where, with Bob Boulton, he formed the British Karate Kyokushinkai organization. In 1975 he was chosen to coach the British team, composed of karateka from all styles, which took the gold medal at the third World Karate Championships. In 1991, after a controversial kyokushin tournament in Japan that Arneil said was fixed in favor of the Japanese fighters, he left Oyama's organization founding his own IKF.

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On Tuesday USA Karate officially confirmed the first athlete to have made their team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics selecting Sakura Kokumai to compete in the women's kata event. Kokumai is one of the first 40 athletes the World Karate Federation announced has qualified for the games, with another 40 slots still open.

The 28-year-old Kokumai is originally from Hawaii where she began training in karate at age 7. She's a seven-time U.S. national champion in kata and a gold medalist at the 2019 Pan American Championships. Her best finish at the World Championships was a bronze medal in 2012.

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World Karate Federation (Instagram)

The European Karate Championships concluded in Poreč, Croatia Sunday with Turkey dominating on both the men's and women's sides. The Turks led the standings with six golds and nine overall medals. Germany was a distant second with two golds and five total medals. But despite taking two of the five men's kumite categories behind 84 kg winner Uğur Aktaş and 60 kg champion Eray Şamdan, Turkey couldn't medal in the men's team kumite competition, which was won by host country Croatia.

Similarly, though Serap Özçelik won gold in the women's 50 kg division and Meltem Hocaoğlu took the women's over 68 kg category for Turkey, the Turks could only manage second in women's team kumite as Germany came out on top while Italy secured the women's team kata event. Turkey, meanwhile, managed to snag the men's team kata competition behind individual winner Ali Sofuoğlu.


The man who apparently launched a racist verbal attack on U.S. women's kata champion Sakura Kokumai earlier this month in a California park has been arrested following a physical assault on an elderly Korean-American couple in the same park Sunday. Michael Vivona is accused of punching a 79-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife without provocation.

Mynewsla.com reported that a group of people playing basketball in Grijalva Park at the time of the assault recognized Vivona from his previous harassment of Kokumai and surrounded him until a nearby police officer arrived to make an arrest. The incident with Kokumai, who is slated to represent the United States in this summer's Tokyo Olympics, gained widespread notice after she posted a video of it on social media in an effort to increase awareness about the growing threat of anti-Asian racism.