These are heady modern days for the ancient martial art of karate, which makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo in 2020.
One of the sport’s greatest practitioners is in Victoria for a demonstration this weekend.
Victoria coach Richard Mosdell describes Takashi Katada as the “Michael Jordan of karate.”
“He’s retired, but he would be a 2020 Olympic gold medal contender if still competing,” Mosdel added.
Katada’s lengthy career has spanned winning world championships from U-21 to seniors levels. The 37-year-old is now head coach of the Yamanashi University karate team, which produces many of Japan’s top young karate performers.
“People go specifically to that university for his coaching,” said Mosdell, high-performance director for Karate B.C.
Katada’s appearance is drawing wide-spread interest among those in the sport in Canada.
“Never has an all-styles karate world champion taught a guest seminar in Victoria before,” Mosdell said.
“This guest seminar is really special, and people are coming from across Western Canada to attend.”
No Canadian has won a world karate title, Mosdell said.
“When asked why he wished to come to Canada, Katada Sensei’s reply was: ‘Since a Canadian has never won a world title, and I have karate friends in Victoria, I offered to come to show everyone how I train karate beginners to become elite athletes, and how I train elite athletes to compete successfully on the global stage,’ ” Mosdell said.
It has been a revealing experience for even senior Canadian coaches, he added: “Katada Sensei performed for us last night and I have never seen anyone move as well, even after myself having trained for 10 years in Japan. In any sport, the fundamentals have to be sound. Katada Sensei knows those karate fundamentals so well, and can watch any performer and get to that person’s weak spots and teach how to address them.”
Katada’s demonstrations will take place today and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4 p.m. at Kenzen Sports Karate, 4349 West Saanich Road.