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Tokyo 2020 and Karate

Karen (Center) and Mr. Koji Murofushi (Right) with Tokyo 2020 Mascots Mr. Murofushi is ex-Olympic Games Gold Medalist and current Sports Director for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

My most recent trip to Japan was a mixture of work and fun. Working for the International Olympic Committee has brought me to many cool places over the last few years, including South Korea for the Olympic Winter Games and Zimbabwe for the African Athletes’ Forum. So, when I was asked to go to Tokyo for the Asian Athletes’ Forum I jumped at the chance to go back to the land of the rising sun.

This Athletes’ Forum was an opportunities for all the Athletes’ Commissions from all 44 National Olympic Committees in Asia to come together and discuss important athlete related issues. Also on the agenda was the sports programme for Tokyo2020 and advances in technology to be used at the Games.

The Forum was hosted by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and headed up by Sports Director and Olympic Council of Asia Athletes’ Commission Chair Koji Murofushi. It was a fantastic opportunity to see the Tokyo2020 headquarters and the Japanese elite training centre, as the Forum was held there.

After the Forum it was then to the serious business of training. I was delighted to be able to train in the Honbu dojo under the guidance of Soke Sakagami. Being able to train privately with Soke was very special for me. His sharpness and physical ability even now astounds me. He was quick to show me the correct way to do the floor kicks in Unshu! After years of competition training I am savouring the chance to go back to my traditional roots and enrich my karate knowledge again was very beneficial.

It was also amazing to be able to meet up with so many old karate friends. Our Itosu family is a very special one, welcoming people back who you may not have seen for many years, the bond of our karate training is very strong.

I appreciated being able to visit Sensei Kitaoka’s dojos. This dojo felt like a home away from home and the kata training was extremely useful. Sensei’s keen eye for competition kata gave me new insights into my Unshu, ones which I need to continue to train in order to perfect. Many thanks for Ai Kitaoka and Ayumu Oda for their kindness also.

We had some great philosophical discussions about karate over dinner. I hope at some point I can return the hospitality in Switzerland.

With Karate being added to the Olympic programme for the Tokyo2020 edition of the Games I hope that I will be back again for more meetings between now and then and I can take a chance to train some more in the home of karate.

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