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Karate is an ancient discipline with the roots of its current form originating on the Japanese island of Okinawa during the Ryukyu Dynasty, which was established in the 15th century.

It became popular across Japan in the 1920s and expanded internationally following World War II.

A karate practitioner is called a karateka. Karate comprises two modalities: Kumite and Kata. In Kumite or combat, the winner of the three-minute fights is the one who obtains a clear lead of eight points, or the competitor having the highest number of points at time-up. If the fight is a draw, then the winner is determined by the first unopposed point advantage (Senshu) or in the case of a scoreless result, by a majority decision of the judges (Hantei).

Points are scored according to correctly-executed techniques of controlled punches, strikes and kicks.

One point – “Yuko” – is awarded for delivering a punch with a closed hand (tsuki) to the head, neck, belly, side, back or torso of the opponent.

Two points – “Waza-ari” – are awarded for a kick to the body.

Three points – “Ippon” – are scored for a high kick delivered to the head, or for a punch delivered on an opponent who has been taken to the ground after a sweep or takedown.

In Kata, competitors execute a set of pre-approved choreographed movements, with the winner being declared by a pool of judges using an electronic voting system.

Karateka are evaluated according to technical and athletic performances.

Karate kids to make history

Karate will make its full Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 after being on the programme at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, where Japan topped the medal table with one gold and three silver medals.

It will feature Kumite and Kata events, with 80 athletes overall competing, 60 in the former and 20 in the latter, with a 50/50 split between men and women.

The Nippon Budokan

The Olympic competition will take place at the legendary Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, which is considered a heartbeat for martial arts practitioners and enthusiasts, exactly 50 years after hosting the first Karate World Championships in 1970.

Inaugurated in 1964 on the occasion of the 1964 Olympic Games, the Nippon Budokan is in Kitanomaru Park and has a capacity of 15,000.

It has an octagonal structure, making it a landmark for tourists and Tokyo residents and is 42m high.


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