COLORADO SPRINGS — Karate will be making its debut in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. And one USA Karate athlete is thrilled to have the chance to be able to compete in Japan.
Sakura Kokumai started practicing Karate at the age of 7 before making the National Junior team at 14 years old. Her involvement with the sport led her family to move from Honolulu to Los Angeles. At just 28 years old, she has built up quite the karate resume. She is a 7-time USA National Champion, a Pan American Olympic Festival Gold medalist, and much more. She says the feeling she gets while competing is rather special.
“I love being able to express myself through my performance. My discipline is Katu. It’s a discipline that requires using our entire body to perform a routine, which involves, punches, blocks, and kicks, and in a way, we are telling a story of a flight,” said Sakura Kokumai, a USA Karate athlete.
Safe to say, she’s looking forward to competing for Team USA, during the year karate makes its debut as an Olympic sport.
“It’s something that we’ve been waiting for a long time. The pandemic definitely gave us an extra year to kind of reflect on myself, reflect on the sport, but I am ready to go out there and compete and just excited to go back to Japan,” said Kokumai.
Sakura says Karate is more than a sport, it’s an art. And anyone who wants to make a career out of the sport should work hard, take constructive feedback and most importantly, never give up.
Sakura says she is also looking forward to going back to Japan, a country she has family ties to.
5News reporter, Caroline Peters and photojournalist, Patrick Godfrey spent the morning learning more about the sport of karate at the United States Karate Academy in Colorado Springs. Senior instructor, Irene Okuyama Andreassen showed the pair the proper form to use while punching in karate. She also shared some facts about the historic sport. Irene says those who wish to become Olympians in the sport of karate should start at a young age, as young as three. However, she says there is no age limit for practicing the sport. She says in Japan, those as old as 80-years-old still practice karate. The U.S. Karate Academy offers classes for all age groups. Those who wish to sign up can visit here.