Kiyuna, from Karate-Okinawa, hypnotizes during male kata competition

TOKYO, Aug.6 (Reuters) – A day after his countryman conceded the first Olympic karate gold medal to his Spanish rival, Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna looked set to collect the goods on Friday as he dominated the kata competition male with high scores that were a cut above the rest.

While the women’s kata event had been a tough affair between the two perennial top two – Spain’s Sandra Sanchez and Japan’s Kiyou Shimizu – Kiyuna’s gold seemed inevitable, her high scores making some gasp in the arena without spectators.

The 31-year-old Okinawa native, the birthplace of karate, said the one-year postponement of the Games gave him time to build up and build up muscle. He also worked to refine what his teacher calls “artistic awareness” by incorporating “Ryumai”, or local Okinawan dance, into his diet.

“I’m just going to focus on expressing here what I’m doing in the dojo,” he said after reaching the final at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, the spiritual home of traditional Japanese martial arts.

With his 365 days a year training program under the tutelage of karate master Tsuguo Sakumoto, Kiyuna said earlier this month that he was “ready to compete at any time” and confident of achieving a perfect score. of 30.0.

Kiyuna has hardly lost his name in recent years, mesmerizing the judges with his punch, sharpness, precision, and presence on the tatami mat.

In the playoff and classification rounds, Kiyuna consistently scored above 28.0 while his closest opponent finalist Damian Quintero of Spain finished at 27.40.

In the discipline of kata, practitioners demonstrate offensive and defensive techniques against a virtual opponent, choosing from 102 forms with esoteric sounding names like Kururunta and Chatanyara Kushanku which they shout before starting.

The performance of the three-minute kata is graded based on speed, rhythm, balance, and other factors.

In the women’s “kumite” category for the -61 kg category, the Chinese Yin Xiaoyan, the Egyptian Giana Lotfy, the Serbian Jovana Prekovic and the Turkish Merve Coban reached the semi-finals.

The men’s -75 kg kumite competition will take place during the evening session.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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