Fil-Japanese karateka Junna Tsukii moved one step closer to achieving her dream of representing the Philippines in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after winning a bronze medal in the 2019 World Karate Federation Serie A—Barcelona in Spain last week.
With the explosive popularity of Mixed Martial Arts, karate is evolving with powerful blows and strikes given greater weight in scoring. Just hitting opponents won’t count for much. You have to hit them hard.
“You cannot win without strong blows in the current rules of karate. Formerly karate was a game of controlled power. But now it is changing. So I am determined to mix it up with my opponent,” said the Kumite (combat karate) practitioner who also earned a bronze medal for the Philippines during the 2018 Asian Games.
Even with the pads on the hands and feet of competitors Tsukii ended up with painful bruises on her face and body. She also had a deep gash on her left hand which was cut open by an opponent’s teeth. She hit her opponent so hard, her teeth penetrated the rubber glove and the tape protecting Tsukii’s hand.
This is the second consecutive bronze medal for Tsukii in a WKF Serie A competition after she earned a similar finish in Montreal, Canada a few weeks ago.
“There are other Olympic qualifying tournaments. Among them, the Asian Karate Federation Championships in July which will receive the most Olympic points. If I can win a medal there, I will be closer to the Olympics,” said Tsukii.
Before the two tournaments Tsukii went to Belgium to train in the famed karate school there. She said she is not disappointed with the bronze medals although she believes she is continuing to improve and expects a better finish in future tournaments.
“I thought I could go to the final. But the semifinal was very close. I’m frustrated because I was aiming for a gold medal instead of my bronze medal. I will always fix the problem and move forward. I work hard. I believe in myself. I have faith I will go to the Olympics,” said Tsukii.
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