Dear Branch Chiefs and Contacts,
Due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, it has been a long time since the last meeting between the comrades around the world, but I hope that you are all doing fine in your country and region. In Japan, the number of infections has declined sharply, and while we do maintain a cautious approach towards another wave, we are gradually adjusting back to our ordinary lives. We are especially observing with interest, how the travel restrictions between overseas countries will be eased, while also balancing the need for caution towards another wave of the virus.
The 7th World Karate Championship in Weight Categories planned by WKO was postponed for more than 1 year, and I believe that this has been difficult for the Poland Branch, the organizing country. The Poland Branch led by Country Representative Remigiusz Karpinski, with their high-level organizational strength and competition ability, is one of the top national federations in the world. Due to the restructuring of the European organization in 2010, the activities within WKO Poland intensified, and they now have one of the most members in the world, and in competitions, the strength to develop a finalist at the recent open weight World Championship is recognized by many. 10 years after the restructuring, as the organizing country of the World Championship in Weight Categories, one of the highest-level tournaments in WKO, where 102 countries and areas are affiliated, I have high expectations that they will organize a wonderful event with their organizational strength.
For the competitors, even during this unstable period, I believe that you are continuing your pursuit of strength through training. I see your efforts on social media, and every time I feel your sweat and kiai through the device, I sense a deep respect within me, and I look forward to seeing your great performance at future tournaments.
In Europe, led by the President of the region, Shihan Koen Scharrenberg, various discussions are apparently being carried out, including ideas to hold events, while searching for a good balance to achieve a combined effect, and also avoid contradictions and inconsistencies, between the standardization of the Full Contact Karate competition, and the development and evolution of WKO, as an organization of practical technique that belongs to the movement. Due to the regional characteristics, where a union is formed by many countries, there is a history of moving forward by exchanging ideas and views between comrades.
For the promotion of Full Contact Karate, the plan was to hold the 1st WFKO World Championship in Japan this May, and from such point, widen the circle around the world, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, we had no choice but to temporarily stop such plans. However, in the trend to standardize Full Contact Karate, I understand that there will be situations where affiliated organizations will feel that they are strongly influenced or pushed, by the momentum to promote the movement forward. Especially due to the active exchange at the European Full Contact Karate Camp that is being held periodically, and the unified regional weight division championship held in Belgium in January 2020. I have heard that an open weight championship is also planned to be held this December in Lithuania. Sosai Oyama used to say “tournaments develop organizations”. In Japan, it has been 7 years since the JFKO Championship started. During this time, we have carried out multilateral discussions until this day, on how to approach the Full Contact Karate world, and more than anything, how WKO, our organization made of important comrades, should sustain our identity. I sincerely hope that our European members will see the approach and experience of Japan as good reference, and search for the best path towards our future. I believe that a similar process will also be followed in the standardization of the Full Contact Karate competition in other regions. Let us choose a good path for the mutual prosperity of WKO and the Full Contact Karate world.
As for the COVID-19 crisis mentioned above, the infection status is apparently different depending on the country and region. Based on the news, Russia is currently experiencing another wave of infections, but they are scheduled to organize the All Russian Championship on November 13. I hope that infection prevention measures will be implemented, and for the competitors that are in need of competitions, I will be wishing for the tournament to be held in a safe and successful manner. In Japan, the 53rd All Japan Open Karate Championship and the Karate Dream Festival 2021 National Championship will be held on December 11-12 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. 125 men and women competitors for the All Japan, and 1,481 competitors from young children to seniors in 78 Kumite categories for the Dream Festival. These two tournaments will be organized together for the first time in history, due to the restrictions related to the holding of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the summer. Although the COVID-19 infection status is still unstable, we will do our best to implement infection prevention measures, in consideration of the competitors that are in need of competitions, and the family members that support them. I believe that such movement by Japan, will encourage and energize the members in the world, as the mother country of Karate. Towards the end of the year, we will see the organizing of tournaments, especially in the key regions of WKO. Based on the strong unity of the organization, let us make safety a priority, and carry out efforts to hold the events successfully.
Lastly, our comrade, Contact Tomio Iinuma of Japan passed away suddenly. Contact Iinuma, opened his dojo in Saitama Prefecture, and while continuing to teach Shinkyokushin Karate, he was involved in the organization work of the World Championship and All Japan Championship, and often took part in the important background tasks as the unsung hero. I was able to make a prayer as my final goodbye, where he lay silently next to his family. My sincere condolences to all involved, and with my utmost appreciation and respect towards his hard work, I wish for his soul to rest peacefully in heaven.
We are in the last months of this year, and time is passing by quickly. I would like to live my life with no regrets, and give my best in everything I do. My sincere wishes to the comrades around the world and let us all take good care of our health.