NOVEMBER 23rd & 24th 2002
Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, 9th Dan, (FSKA)
Chief Instructor, Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association
Las Vegas, Nevada
For the first time ever, the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association held it's Annual World Championship tournament in North America. Previous locations had included: England, Portugal, and Latvia in the former Soviet Union, but this year the approximately 1000 competitors found themselves in a city that truly never sleeps, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
Instructors, students, family, and friends, came from a great number of countries including, U.S.A., Canada, France, Germany, England, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Georgia, Ireland, Mexico, Czech Republic, Portugal, and the Philippines, just to name a few. Las Vegas was indeed a wonderful venue for this event which was a great opportunity for many of us to renew old friendships and to make many new ones.
On the afternoon and evening of November 22nd - the day before the tournament - Shihan Funakoshi, Sensei Kyle Funakoshi, and Sensei Kevin Funakoshi held a series of training seminars for those students looking for pointers on how to improve their kata. The junior seminar was held first followed by the advance seminar and each one was well attended as students from all over the world sought this rare opportunity to increase their understanding of the various Shotokan katas under the watchful eyes of such an outstanding Master and two such distinguished Sensei's.
Day one was devoted entirely to kata. From first thing in the morning to well into the evening referees, judges, time keepers, and score keepers were kept busy with a seemingly endless steam of competitors of all ranks and ages. The katas were good, and the scores were close, in many cases the margin of victory between those who received a medal and those who did not could be measured in a matter of tenths. In all cases good sportsmanship was the order of the day and all of the competitors, regardless of their country of origin, were shown the appreciation of a very knowledgeable audience. The sheer number of competitors in some divisions made ties a distinct possibility and as a result in some cases two or three different katas were needed to be performed before a winner could be determined. Mistakes counted heavily, but in the end the amount of dedication and hard work that went into preparing for this event by the top three medal winners in each category was evident for all to see.
Day two was given over entirely to kumite. From first thing in the morning until late in the evening spectators at every ring, regardless of the age group competing in it, saw very spirited and entertaining matches which kept all of the center judges and their assistant corner judges very busy. As often happens, yes there were injuries, but good control, good judging and high level of sportsmanship kept these to a minimum and the mishaps were minor overall. The end of the two day event saw teams from England, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union waging an all out effort to win the Team Kumite event and the large crowd that was present saw a memorable number of matches indeed. When the best from the FSKA Affiliated dojo's around the world get together there is more than enough energy and entertainment to go around - I can hardly wait for next year.
The day before
Juniors first
In the afternoon the juniors were up first and Bryce McMath, seen in the center of the picture, along with all of the other students soon found that paying attention to detail and staying focused was an important part of making their kata look good.
Watching and learning
At our dojo Bryce, seen here on the right of the picture, is without a doubt one of the more mature junior students and always keeping an eye on what ever is being demonstrated is one of the characteristics that have helped to make him such a good student.
Intermediate seminar
The kata Bassai Dai was the order of the day for the intermediate aged students and with the room full the level of effort and intensity was definitely evident.
They came from around the world
Representing a wide number of countries and dojos all the students brought with them a desire to learn and while the guys out numbered the girls everyone's enthusiasm and effort was equally displayed.
Looking for direction
Not wishing to miss a single important detail each student in the very crowded room did whatever it took to get a clear look at what was being demonstrated.
Pressing on
Everyone's kiba dachi got a good work out as the stances and the hand movements found throughout Bassai Dai were practiced over and over again.
Warming up the legs
The adult seminar was to cover some very advanced katas and so warming up the legs with a series of kicking drills set the tone for what was to come, seen here in the center of the picture is Sensei Ernest Lopez, 4th Dan, FSKA Vacaville, as far as technique was concerned Sensei was definitely one of the people to follow.
One on one
Sensei Lafferty, 7th Dan, FSKA, Chief Instructor, at the Vacaville dojo, made a point of wandering around the room and correcting every little detail during the various drills. Many students had the opportunity to benefit from his keen eye, and expert knowledge, one on one.
Ever watchful
Shihan Funakoshi was every where, and if you think Sensei Lafferty was a stickler for detail, when Shihan Funakoshi cast his eye on a student they doubled their efforts and made every effort to be as precise, and as correct as possible.
Mexico front and center
A regular at tournaments and seminars Sensei Guillermo Acuna, 3rd Dan, FSKA Tijuana, Mexico, seen here on the right of the picture always finishes well in both kata and kumite event. Sensei Acuna always sets and excellent example for others to follow.
Setting an example for others
Sensei John Bolosan is seen here setting a good example of this group of students as they work their way through the latter stages of Bassai Dai. Sensei Bolosan would later go on to win the gold medal in the men's senior kata division.
Looking and listening
Looking to the rear this group of students pays close attention as Sensei Kyle Funakoshi, 5th Dan, FSKA, explains, and then demonstrates, the next movement of the kata. All of his instructions were very detailed, and Sensei Kyle left no doubt as to which way was the correct way to perform each aspect of the kata.
Leading his group through the kata Jion, Sensei Kyle Funakoshi set a standard that was not easy to even try and match.
Following the leader
All eyes were forward as the group made every effort through out the various katas to duplicate Sensei Kyle Funakoshi's excellent technique, is he ever a hard act to follow. The evening finished with all of the participants full of appreciation for the instruction they had received and looking forward to the tournament which would start at 9 am the next morning.
The first day - kata
Full of enthusiasm junior competitors from many countries filled all six rings at the start of the 4th Annul Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association World Championship which got under way bright and early Saturday morning.
Receiving a score
Each division had it's share of loyal followers who turned out in large numbers on all four sides of the ring to show their support and to cheer on all those who came to perform. In one of the junior events in ring number four Chief Judge, Sensei Kyle Funakoshi, 6th Dan, FSKA, and the four corner judges assigned to assist him render their verdict while an anxious competitor awaits her total score at the end of her kata.
Black belts waiting for their results
In the Men's Ni Dan division, Sempai Curtis Lindsay, seen here second from the right, awaits the results with just a few of the more than twenty competitors in this very large category. Chief Judge, Sensei Andre Dulce, 6th Dan, FSKA, of the Washington State Shotokan Karate Association, stands ready to present the gold medal to a the winner from Portugal. The quality of the kata in this group was excellent and the judges had a difficult task indeed, once again the margin of victory between all placements was very small and Sempai Curtis is to be congratulated for his strong performance.
Shihan Funakoshi, Sempai Curtis Lindsay, and Sensei Kevin Funakoshi
Shihan Funakoshi, 9th Dan, Chief Instructor, of the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association, and Sensei Kevin Funakoshi, 7th Dan, FSKA, Hawaii, pose with Sempai Curtis Lindsay after his fine performance in the Men's Ni Dan division. Here in Victoria we are very fortunate that Shihan Funakoshi is able to visit our dojo to lecture, and to teach us the finer points of Shotokan Karate. Shihan's teachings have made a lasting impression and all of the students who competed in Las Vegas definitely benefited from the lessons he taught on kata earlier this year.
First, Second, and Third
In the Women's Ni Dan division, Sempai Tracey O'Leary of Ireland, a very experienced international competitor, seen here on the left, awaits the presentation of her silver medal in another hard fought category. Again the quality of the katas was excellent and from the looks on their faces I think several of the men who were watching were very glad that the ladies had their own division.
Proud of their efforts
In the men's 6th kyu division, Nathan Black from our dojo is seen here on the left after winning a silver medal for his kata Heian Sandan, poses with the Gold and Bronze medal winners both of whom were from the U.S.A. This was Nathan's first international tournament and he is to be congratulated on a fine performance.
The Head Table
Throughout the two day event Shihan Funakoshi was joined at the Head Table by many distinguished visitors. Here he is seen having a conversation with Sensei James Miyagi of Hawaii about the Program Booklet for this years event as Sensei Lenoard Lafferty, 7th Dan, FSKA, looks on. Originally from Hawaii, Shihan Funakoshi and Sensei Miyagi have known each other for many years.
Caught in motion - twice
Seen here in these two photos doing one of her favourite katas Sempai Katharine Kaye, Ni Dan, is twice caught in mid-move during her performance of the kata Kanku Sho. An avid student and a keen competitor Sempai Katharine always brings a high level of focus and determination to every event.
A Strong finish
A strong finish in all things is important, and Sempai Katharine made a point of doing just that as the camera catches her settling into the last move of her kata.
Hard work pays off
Showing the rewards of their fine effort in the Women's Ni Dan division are Canadian team members Sempai Marilyn Norman, on the left, and Sempai Katharine Kaye, on the right. As you can tell by the look on their faces they had a great time, and both of them are already making plans to attend next years event which will once again be held in Las Vegas.
My turn
For many students karate is a lifelong pursuit, and unlike most sports it is not uncommon for karate practitioners to still be competing in tournaments well into their fifties, sixties, and beyond. This year with that thought in mind the "senior division" saw many of the more experienced instructors making a point of stepping up and being counted, including myself.
Father and son
Shihan Funakoshi, seen here with his eldest son Sensei Kevin Funakoshi, 7th Dan, and a former International Men's Kata and Kumite Champion, made a point of visiting all of the rings at various points during the very long day and the Men's Senior Kata division was no exception.
A lot of combined experience
When it was all said and done Sensei John Bolosan in the center took gold with the kata Unsu, I took the silver with Gojushiho Dai, and Sensei Richard Straight took the bronze with Empi. The crowd was great and so was the competition, my thanks to all the participants in my division for making it such a memorable event.
A long journey
As this year comes to a close it marks for me my 25th year as Shotokan stylist. In all those years I have been very blessed, and today I have a wealth of very fond memories of my days in the dojo, and of all the talented and gifted Sensei's and students that I have had the privilege of training with over the years, many of whom are today close personal friends. This is without a doubt a tremendously rewarding art form, and as I look forward to the future I wish to express my deep gratitude to my wife Joy for her love and support and for allowing me to spend so much time with my other love, karate. I also would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration and appreciation to Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi for his time, his knowledge, his understanding, and his guidance, as his student I could not ask for a better teacher.
Day two - kumite
Each day started out with the juniors and day two was no exception.
Waiting for the start
This year only one junior student from our dojo took part and that was Bryce McMath, seen here looking my way and wearing the dark gloves in the middle of this picture, as he waits with other members of his group for the start of the boys 9 - 12 kumite division. In the foreground Sempai Arron Booker, 4th Dan, FSKA, makes final adjustments to a competitors equipment, while one of the corner judges Sempai Timothy Mendez, 2nd Dan, FSKA, stands ready awaiting the start of the event.
Handing out the medals
In the boys junior brown belt division Bryce receives his medal from Sensei Roger St. Pierre, 4th Dan, FSKA, who once again made the trip west from his dojo in Rhode Island. This was a very large division and Bryce acquitted himself very well indeed in his first international tournament.
Sempai Amy and Team Ireland
Also on day two, Sempai Amy Barnes, Sho Dan, seen here on the far right, joined Team Ireland as their fifth member for the Women's Team Kumite event in which they went on to win a silver medal. In 2003 the FSKA dojo in Ireland which is headed by Sensei Niall Wright, Ni Dan, FSKA, will be hosting an International Karate Tournament to be held in Ireland June 1st and 2nd 2003.
Shihan Funakoshi and the Sensei's
Shihan Funakoshi, third from the left in the back row, poses with just a few of the Sensei's who came from all over the world. Shihan Funakoshi presented each of us with the gift of a hand drawn calligraphy plaque, and a gold medallion, to commemorate this terrific event.
On behalf of all of the students from Westshore Karate Inc. who took part in this years FSKA World Championship, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to Shihan Funakoshi, his son's, Sensei Kevin Funakoshi, and Sensei Kyle Funakoshi, as well as all of the other FSKA instructors, judges, time keepers, score keepers, and other staff members, and supporters for a truly excellent, and well run event. We look forward to seeing all of you again in November 2003.
Part the clouds - see the way.
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay