The 48th All Japan Open Tournament (IKO) was held in Tokyo (Japan) on November 05th and November 06th. This tournament was the last chance for the fighters to earn their qualification for next year’s World Weight Category Karate Championships (IKO), also to be held in Tokyo.
We were present in Tokyo to observe this first open tournament under the new rules of kumite in Japan. However, they are clearly not well understood by the fighters, by the referees and even less by the public. At several occurences the decisions made by the referees had to be overturned by MATSUI Shokei or YAMADA Masatoshi themselves, creating a lot of confusion for some fights. We could also notice the frustration of several fighters who lost on waza-ari that were decided after a light touch at the face followed by a zanshin (posture with kiai), which absolutely didn’t prevent them from continuing the fight. Even though those new rules are presentend as a come-back to the source of Kyokushin and as an aim at getting closer to a real fight, it is important to strengthen the fact that it is also removing a good part of what made Kyokushin a full-contact karate style. This orientation goes further into something close to a point system, like the one that has been adopted for the Olympics.
That being said, the four main contenders of this tournament all successfully reached the semi-finals: TAKAHASHI Yuta, ARATA Shoki, UEDA Mikio and KAMADA Shohei. They obtained several waza-ari and ippon (as you could read in our live report on Facebook) throughout the tournament, some due to the new rules, some that would have been accepted anyway under the old rules too.
The semi-finals opposed TAKAHASHI to ARATA and UEDA to KAMADA. Both ended with victories by waza-ari: one with a kaiten do-mawashigeri from TAKAHASHI and one with a uchi-mawashigeri followed by a zanshin from KAMADA, almost the exact same technique that made him the Japan Super Heavyweight Champion in June (against TAKAHASHI at the time).
The fight for the third place opposed ARATA to UEDA. Even though ARATA dominated the first half of the fight, UEDA ended with a great rush in the last minute, leaving ARATA static and then forced to move backward. UEDA won by clear decision, 5-0.
The final was the expected revenge fight between TAKAHASHI and KAMADA. KAMADA got rather early in the fight two consecutive warnings for grabbing TAKAHASHI. He then received a jodan-mawashigeri that hit, but was not followed by a zanshin, and therefore did not grant a waza-ari to TAKAHASHI. The fight continued with a slight advantage to TAKAHASHI, when KAMADA also placed a nice jodan-mawashigeri that made TAKAHASHI fall and roll back, before getting immediately back on his feet. The angle did not allow us to confirm if the kick actually hit TAKAHASHI in the face or not, nor did the replays on the big screen. It seems as though it hit TAKAHASHI’s hand instead, but it was counted as a waza-ari anyway by the referees. And the fight ended shortly after, making KAMADA the 48th All Japan Champion, his first victory in a major Open tournament. Interestingly enough, it’s the first time since 2013 that a Japanese fighter wins an Open tournament in Japan.
You can find below the complete results.
Champion: KAMADA Shohei
Finalist: TAKAHASHI Yuta
3rd: UEDA Mikio
4th: ARATA Shoki
5th: ZARINYAN Ashot
6th: KOVALENKO Konstantin
7th: TANIGAWA Seiya
8th: ISMAILOV Eldar
Best Tameshiwari: NAVOIAN David (24 Boards)
Best Technique: KAMADA Shohei
Best Spirit: TANIGAWA Seiya
Best New Comers: GULIAEV Anton and BEY Noah