Swedish Kata Trophy keep going strong

The Swedish Kata Trophy has been a standing annual feature for Swedish martial artists since its inception in 1986. This year was of course no exception and almost six hundred participants took Eriksdalshallen to extend the valued tradition.

As I said, the Swedish Kata Trophy has been running for quite some time now. Not quite since the ice age, but at least since those of us who still consider ourselves relatively young at the time still only were a thought. Likewise this year, a large number of karate-hungry participants and audiences entered Eriksdalshallen with great enthusiasm and excitement.

Kampsportnews naturally felt compelled to report on the storied event. We decided to have a chat with Fredrik Ek who was one of the organizers. He also helped organize the Karate Kid Cup, which reached new heights at the end of last year.

– The event as a whole and the time schedule were on spot, the competition went according to plan. Then, of course, the most enjoyable thing is to be able to compete again. The response has been only positive, there is a desire to compete in kata. (Best was, ed. note) absolutely that we had 578 starts during the day as well as national and international guests in the form of competitors and judges. It’s also fun to have the national team as guests, it shows a bit of the competition’s dignity, he says and continues:

– This year the registrations went via Sportdata as well as the results lists, it was a good upgrade that we will continue with. We would like to have the Swedish Kata Trophy as a two day event. As we did before the pandemic with a kata seminary on day two with international guest instructors, says Fredrik. He also develops how kata works in competition form.

– Kata are basically patterns for training techniques that are excellent for competing in. There are katas that are more or less style-specific that contain techniques that are special to that particular style. Common are the criteria that the judges have in front of their eyes when judging a competitor’s performance. Among other things, strength, balance and timing, very generally explained then. The contestant who best meets the judges’ criteria and stands out the most is usually the winner when the tournament is over.

Fredrik has had the opportunity to experience many wonderful moments over the years. Above all, there are two editions that seem to have left a clear mark.

– Like all competitions, the Swedish Kata Trophy started on a small scale but grew quickly. The year that was the most exciting was 2013 when the reigning world champions Rika Usami and Antonio Diaz were on the competition mat in Eriksdalshallen. The whole arena went completely silent and all movement stopped for a moment when they did their kats, he says and adds:

– In terms of competition, the thirty-fifth edition of the Swedish Kata Trophy was one of the very best competitions Inoue-Ha Sweden has arranged in Eriksdalshallen. It was really fun to see how many people came and competed from different parts of the country but also from the Nordics and Europe.

An event like the Swedish Kata Trophy with a range of participants beyond six hundred requires a lot of planning and staffing during the course of the competition.

– It is a bit difficult to answer exactly how many people are involved, but if we look at the larger perspective of competition management, officials and judges, it will probably be more than seventy people. In addition, Inoue-Ha Sweden has organized competitions for over thirty years, so there is a lot of routine and routines help with smooth arrangements. The planning for our competitions goes on basically all year round, when the Swedish Kata Trophy is finished the planning for the national championships in Shito-Ryu begins. After that the Karate Kid Cup and the Swedish Junior Cup. In between there is also the Solna Karate Cup and not infrequently we also arrange Stockholm’s district championships.

Many traditional martial arts practitioners now seem to prefer to switch to MMA, the immensely popular martial arts style of recent years. However, Fredrik does not seem to worry about it unnecessarily. He believes that the two can work together and that karate still has some unique elements.

– There is room for karate and other martial arts together with MMA, it is not wrong that the martial arts has an upswing. All the sports in the category benefit from it. Karate has a versatility that MMA may not have. For example, we have parents who exercise with their children as a joint activity. We have older people who work on their technique and physics well into their years. Karate is good because it is accessible to both the elite and the general public, he says, adding:

– Purely attitudinally, karate may not have the same ”magic” around it as it had among the uninitiated. I think that karate generally needs to find a niche in communication to show its strength as a sport and leisure activity, without becoming cheesy or too cute, it’s still a budo and martial art we deal with.

Finally, Fredrik shares what drives him to continue organizing the Swedish Kata Trophy and various other martial arts events year after year, decade after decade.

– There are many things, of course, but one of them is that we see that there is still a great need for kata competitions. Another is that karate as a sport is very much alive. A third is that it’s fun to get air under your wings when it comes to organizing competitions, it makes you want to do more, says Fredrik. He also reflects on how he thinks the Swedish karate scene is doing at the moment.

– Karate in general seems to be quite prosperous as a martial art after the pandemic. In purely competitive terms, Swedish karate does well in the Nordic countries, in some cases even at the European level. At world level, we still have a lot of work to do to reach the top. Who knows, maybe one of the children who competed at the Swedish Kata Trophy will lift the World Championship trophy in the future?

Read about the organizer Inoue-Ha

Also read about Kyokushin EC that will be held in Sweden for the first time ever

Tomas Loman

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