Kisumu County played host to the National Inter-counties Karate Championships, with over 12 teams from across the country taking part in the competition.
The event, held on Sunday, was sponsored by the Kenya Karate Federation in conjunction with the Kisumu County Karate Association.
Over six categories that were featured at the fete include the senior male and female team ‘kata’ and ‘Kumite’; a special category for Juniors under 16 years for both boys and girls ‘kata’, – where ‘Kumite’ refers to fighting while ‘kata’ is the system of training that is showcased before a bench of judges.
According to the Assistant Technical Director of the Kenya Karate Federation Mr. Patrick Gichine the national club championships usually happen at the end of the year, from October to December. The individual championships take place in the first quarter of the year while the Inter-County Club championship is hosted at the mid-year.
“During this championship, we usually select the members for the national team to participate in the All African Games,” Gichine further explains.
The All African Games will be held in Accra, Ghana in March 2024.
Dr. Mark Ouche, the chairman of the Lake Region Karate Association, says that Karate as a sport has picked up over the years with several clubs and schools like Kisumu Boys School and Jalaram Academy fully embracing the art.
Dr Ouche, who is also the founder of the Kisumu Karate Academy, which started in 1993, says the region has several functional clubs for the sport.
“Since sports is devolved, it is expected that the county government should come up with support schemes for all sporting activities including karate but you’ll find them only focusing on football,” Dr Ouche stresses as he explains how some clubs’ activities fluctuate due to lack of funds.
He adds, “Karate is very different from Taekwondo despite many people confusing the two. Karate integrates other martial arts including Judo and an element of boxing. Karate can either be a very vicious art or the moderated form for sports scoring.”
“Karate means ‘open hands’, as the sport is a martial art where you use your open hands, kara,” he explains.
“I would like to tell other youth to join the great art of karate, which keeps you busy and away from drugs because of the discipline it dispels,” advises Martin Maina from the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) team.
The KNH team defended the trophy in the male kata category with the KNH female team also bagging gold. The Kenya Police Service teams B and A bagged silver and bronze respectively.
The Kenya Police Service carried the day in the male Kumite category with the Moi University team winning the gold in the female category.