The first day of the Kata World Championships, Lisbon, Portugal 2021, took place today at the Pavillion 1, Estadio Universitário de Lisboa. Four categories were in action: Nage-no-kata senior and Nage-no-kata U-23, Katame-no-kata senior and Ju-no-kata senior. After the performance of the veterans last week it was a unique and interesting way to show the beauty of our sport through the 'choreography' of kata.

The IJF President, Mr Marius Vizer, said, "Our kata specialists have waited patiently for their pinnacle event of the year to re-emerge and with the extraordinary efforts of the local organisers, the 2021 edition of the World Kata Championships promises to reflect the traditions of judo that we hold in such high esteem."

IJF Kata commission director, Daniel De Angelis also commented, “The level of the judoka is incredible and we have seen very strong teams. When looking at all the pairs who entered the finals, I can say that any of them could have been world champion today. All these teams have the expertise to go to many world championships and I am happy to see that. Since 2014 this is the largest group of competitors that we had. I am glad to see the numbers growing. We have 102 pairs taking part in this event. We believe that if there was no pandemic, we would have even more athlete participating in. I want also to underline the level of the juniors. For the first time in history, we organised the competition also for athletes under 23 years old. We can say that today they had the same level as their elders. We were expecting a very good level. We witnessed something even better.”

Whilst Michel Kozlowski, Sport Director of the Kata Commission explained, "The technical level was particularly high in all the kata presented today. All the finalists had the potential to win and it is not necessarily the leaders of the first rounds, who won at the end. It shows how they were all very good.”

We also heard from Michel Huet, Kata Commission Coordination Director, who emphasised the great atmosphere and organisation, "Everything went very well during this first day of competition. We had a really great atmosphere, full of respect, which was worthy of our discipline. It was also the very firs time that we used digital tablets for the refereeing and this worked perfectly giving us the possibility to deliver the results fasters to all the participants and the public.”

It can be wholly agreed that the Portuguese Judo Federation delivered a perfect event and knowing the complication of the current situation, the Kata World Championships are already a great success.

An important ceremony just prior to the start of the final block was held and a minute of silence was observed in memory of judo community members who contributed to the development of kata in the world and who unfortunately passed away recently. Mr Franco Capelletti, the Chairman of the Kata commission and IJF 10th dan, praised the memory of those we lost, "Dear judo family, the world was hit hard by the covid pandemic. We lost members of our community and it is important to remember them: Veuleman Eric (1942-2021), Murata Naoki (1949-2020), Daigo Toshiro (1926-2021), Matsushita Saburo (1935-2020), Kano Yukimitsu (1933-2020). They were judoka, kata specialists and our friends.”

IJF Kata Comission members from left to right: Giacomo Spartaco Bertoletti, Franco Capeletti, Envic Galea

We also spoke to the nage-no-kata World Champion Niels Neumann from Netherlands said: “We are super happy. We work hard today, all the pairs who competed were very strong. We couldn’t have done it without the help of our coaches and all the competitors who helped us to reach this level. We made each other better. We won silver before and we are very proud to win gold this time.”

Twin brothers and silver medalists in Nage-no-kata U23, Nikolai and Iaroslav Zhikharev from Russia commented on their experience at the event: “It’s the first time we are participating in the world championships and we got silver. One of us just made a small mistake. So our plan is to keep working on our technique and get a better result in the future.”

Alina Zaharia, bronze medalist with Alina Cheru, in Ju-no-kata from Romania said: “It is very important to participate in both judo, traditional and kata. That helps to develop your technique.”

Day 1 medalists at #JudoKata

Kata are an important part of judo and today's champions and organisers proved that they were doing everything to make this event a successful event. An incredible level and organisation proved to be the keys of the success. Owing to the history and value of kata being an intrinsic part of Judo and it’s evolution into the sport we know and love today, to see kata on the world stage is a cornerstone for judo and something that we draw pleasure in achieving a larger group of competitors each year so the importance of the history if Judo is not lost.

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