Like other martial arts sports, the Philippines can also produce a world champion in karate.
Former Southeast Asian Games champion and national team coach David Lay certainly thinks so.
“With the right training and proper international exposure, Filipino karatekas can also excel in this sport,” said Lay during the 56th “Usapang Sports” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila yesterday.
Lay, also the chief instructor of the Karate Development Arts, said Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii remains as the country’s brightest hope in karate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I think kailangan na lang niya (Tsukii) ng ilang medal finishes. I hope she makes it to the Olympics. I’m really happy that she is representing the Philippines, although she is half-Japanese, half-Filipina,” said Lay, who excelled in the sport while under Junna’s father-coach Shin Tsukii in the 80s.
Added Lay: “Sa tingin ko, nag-improve na ng malaki ang karate dito sa atin. Madami na din exposure ngayon ang mga karatekas natin, unlike ng panahon namin noong 1987, na madami pa kaming dapat matutunan.”
Lay and Rudy Ochoa of PKTS also announced the staging of the first Japan Karate Shoto Federation kata and kumite seminar on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Ali Mall in Cubao, Quezon City.
The event is part of 20th anniversary of the KDA.
“JKS, which is being headed by Masao Kagawa, is one of the best karate organizations in the world. We just have to look at their records. It is highly technical and it combined the advantages of both the traditional aspect of karate and sport karate,” said Lay, one of seven Filipino blackbelts, who attended a three-day JKS international seminar at the Tokyo University last Nov. 2019.
“Our affiliation for the JKS is not only for us, but we want to open it to the Filipino karate enthusiasts for them to become members and get these technical skills,” he added.
Lay said Kagawa, a 9th dan blackbelt, is the chairman of both the technical committee of the World Karate Federation and chairman of the coaching seminar of Japan.
“In fact, he is coming to the country this coming March 22 to give seminars and examinations in Batangas and Cebu,” added Lay.
Ochoa, on the other hand, said there are about 74 JKS blackbelts in the country with more to follow.
“This Sunday, we expect as many as 400 to 500 participants from various JKS clubs in Metro Manila,” said Ochoa during the weekly sports program supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club, PAGCOR, Community Basketball Association and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drinks.
Ochoa said Lay will handle the kata seminar at 10:30 a.m., while Ali Parvinfar will handle the kumite seminar during the KDA event at Ali Mall.
Both Lay and Ochoa said the controversy affecting karate in the country is not affecting their programs.
“We have no problems. We try to work together. If there’s an activity,we support each other. What’s important is 'yung goal that we have. If our players want to play in the other group, we will not stop them and even encourage them. Respetado namin sila,” explained Lay.
Aside from Lay and Ochoa, the other Filipino black belts who went to Tokyo were Barry Orenciana (KDA), Paul Chavez (KDA), Roehl Parungao (JDA), Ramon Franco (ASK) and Parvinfar.