Thu 05 August 2021 | 12:00

An introduction to Karate, the new Olympic Sport

As it seems that Tokyo Olympics will finally go ahead to include Karate as one of the five new sports added in the tournament, all of this sport's fans are flattering their heart to eventually watch Olympic Karate taking place on August 4 to 7.

The event of Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics is set to occur in 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan as it is considered to be the debut appearance of karate at the Summer Olympics. The sport has joined judo, taekwondo, and wrestling as the only Olympics-approved martial arts for this edition of Olympics.

As one of the four newly added sports to the Olympic program, it is just specified to appear in 2020 and it would not be a permanent sport at the Olympics, that is to say in all probability, we would not see Olympic Karata as part of the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Therefore, whoever claims gold in Tokyo, would not only etch his/her name as the first champion of Olympic Karate but also would be the last one.

As Karata means “empty hand” in Kanji, it is evident that it might have its origin somewhere in Japan. Perhaps the reason why we have Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics of Tokyo, is the Japanese influence over this sport.

Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics has consisted of eight events and accordingly eight gold medals would be awarded to the winners of 

Olympic Karate athletes


The two disciplines of

Olympic karate

are Kumite and Kata as both of them would be divided 50/50 between men and women.

An introduction to Karate, the new Olympic Sport

On that note, here we would take you through everything you need to know to about this Sport so as to make Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics a real joy to behold.

In case you are interested to know the other new added sports at the Olympics you can check out

Newly added sports at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Karate history

As it was mentioned earlier, the system of unarmed combat with the literal meaning of "empty hand," has originated from Japan while most medals in world championship competitions also have been claimed by this country.

As this ancient martial art is one of the most popular sports in the world, it has evolved during the 17th century in Okinawa local which is a chain of islands off the southern coast of Japan.

It was just after World War II that karate has been recognised as a popular sport around the world while it has not made its debut all the way down to the Tokyo Olympics where the sport for the first time originated as it was involved in executing arm- and leg-based strikes.

The first endeavour to include Karata at the summer Olympics traces back to the 1970s as Jacques Delcourt, which is an outstanding sports administrator and an instrumental figure in the development of the sport, paved the way for the emergence of

Karate at the 2020 summer Olympics.

Yet it was in 2015 that the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee recommended the inclusion of karate as one of five additional sports, a decision that was confirmed by the International Olympic Committee.

Therefore athletes are set to compete at the Nippon Budokan, which is the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts and a legacy venue from the Tokyo 1964 Games.

Karate Disciplines

Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics

has consisted of two disciplines of Kumite, which is the sparring discipline with three weight classes each for men and women (60 athletes) and Kata, which is the solo form discipline, having one event each for men and women (20 athletes). In both divisions of the sport, there are elimination rounds, ranking rounds and medal bouts.


This is a kind of match in which two karatekas compete with each other in an 8x8 area, endeavouring to land blows on their opponent in the period of three minutes.

In the Kumite discipline of karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics, the karatekas would cope against their opponents according to the three weight categories of -67kg, -75kg, +75kg for men and -55kg, -61kg, +61kg for women.

Good Kicks and punches in terms of form, power and control might earn one point called Yuko, two points called Waza-ari or even at the highest level three points called Ippon.

A Yuko is scored with an upper level or mid-level punch or strike. A Waza-ari is earned with a mid-level kick when a karateka unbalances an opponent with a leg sweep.

Finally, Ippon is the highest individual point that a karateka could score with an upper-level kick, striker or punch to a fallen opponent.

The winner would be determined when one of the fighters earns eight points first or has the most points at the end of the boat.

When the event has ended up in a draw, the fighter who scored the first point (Senshu) is the winner. Had the bout ended in a scoreless tie, the five judges would determine the winner.

It is pertinent to note that Kumite competition has four warning levels consisting of Chukoku or first warning, Keikoku or second warning, Hansoku-chui or third warning and Hansoku or fourth and final warning which would be resulted in the disqualification of the competitor while the victory is given to the opponent.


In the event of Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Kata on the contrary to Kumite is not categorized in weight groups. Because karatekas do not cope with each other in the boats but instead they stand alone in the arena so as to perform a demonstration of forms (Kata) this time against their virtual opponents.

There are 102 katas recognized by the World Karate Federation that competitors would choose to perform at the tournament but they can not perform the same Kata twice during a competition.


Karate at the 2020 summer Olympics

, a sum of 20 karatekas is competing in the Kata competition as it means that there are 10 athletes each in Men’s and Women’s competitions.

In Kata, the competitors are provided with the opportunity to perform their forms in front of seven judges that would review their performance based on a scale stretching from 5.0 to 10.0.

While the two highest and two lowest scores out of the seven scores of each group are eliminated, all the rest of the scores are joined together to make up the final scores, which is assessed 70% for technical points and 30% for athletic points. If the results are ended up in a draw the contestants would perform an additional choice of Kata to be evaluated.

The seven technical points that Karatekas are judged based on them, are Techniques, Stances, Transitional movements, Timing, Correct breathing, Conformance, Focus. While Balance, Speed and Strength are the three athletic points that the Karatekas are evaluated on the basis of them.

Olympic Karate Qualifications

In the event of karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics, those karatekas are deserved to take 80 quota places for the Games, that have come from their respective NOCs on the basis of the results of designated competitions that were monitored by World Karate Federation.

As each NOC are allowed to enter a maximum of eight karatekas (one in each division); the host nation Japan has managed to reserve a place in each of all 8 events, whereas four spots are made available to NOCs via a Tripartite Commission Invitation.

As a result, the 10 contestants in each event has qualified in a way that 1 competitor is from the host nation, Japan; 4 are from the Olympic Standing ranking of 5 April 2021; 3 are from the Olympics Karate 2020 Qualification Tournament and 2 are from continental representation or Tripartite Commission invitation.

Olympic Karate venue 

Karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics is taking place at the Budokan, which is considered to be one of the most iconic venues of Tokyo games as it is the mecca of judo since it introduced judo to the Olympic programme in 1964 edition.

While it is located near the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, now at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the venue red carpets one of the other new sport of the Olympic Games.

In case you are curious to know more about one of the other newly added sport to the Tokyo Olympic games you can check out

An introduction to sport climbing, the new Olympic sport.

Olympic Karate athletes

When it comes to Olympic Karate athletes, the host nation is expected to have several gold medal winners in the sport especially with the presence of Ryo Kiyuna and Kiyou Shimizu in the Kata discipline.

At the same time, the Spanish flag is set to feature highly, as in the same Kata division, man and female Karatekas Damián Quintero and Sandra Sánchez are the favourites to get the gold medal at the event of

Karate at the Summer Olympics.

Likewise, the French Olympic Karate athletes, like the world champion Steven Da Costa in the men's -67kg category, and Pan American gold medallist Vinicius Figueira are participating in the tournament.

In this regard, we would take a closer look at some of the most prominent Olympic athletes that are competing at the first and perhaps the last event of Karate at the Summer Olympics.

Rafael Aghayev

While he is widely revered to as the “Diamond of the Karate World”, he is a five-time World Champion and 11 times European Champion.

The Azerbaijani 36-year-old karateka is so much experienced that has managed to win almost any top honour in this sport.

Therefore, he is one of the favourites to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics so as to further boosts his reputation and honours.

Sandra Sanchez

The 39-year-old Spaniard is not only the reigning world champion and the six-time European champion but also she is widely regarded as the karateka with the most medals in the history of the international circuit.

As just recently, she was awarded a gold medal for her performance in Porec, Croatia to retain her European title; she is utterly prepared to take part in the Tokyo Olympic games as her first and perhaps the last appearance at the Olympics.

While she is recognized by the Guinness World Records for winning the most medals in the Karate1 Premier League and has received 35 consecutive medals between January 2014 and February 2020, she is determined to go back home with an Olympic gold medal so as to complete her illustrious career.

Kiyou Shimizu

The 27-year-old Japanese Kiyou Shimizu, who has received gold medals at the Karate World Championships twice in 2014 and 2016 as well as a silver medal in 2018, is set to represent his nation at the Olympics.

Not to mention that she is a two-time gold medal winner at the Asian Games in 2014 and 2018. Hence as she is very specialised in individual Kata, he would be considered as one of the top constants to win gold in this discipline.


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source: SportMob

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