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Tournament/Seminar Review
Ozawa Cup 2006
by Jennifer Lane


(All photos courtesy of Bill Bly, of American Samurai)

The 2006 Ozawa Cup International Karate Tournament was held on April 13-16, 2006, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Close to 800 competitors from 238 dojos participated in the event. Participants from 15 countries around the world, including: Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, India, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, South Africa,  Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and USA (including 22 different U.S. states) came to represent their dojos. The four-day event featured: kata and kumite competition, Master’s Seminars and Demonstrations, a panel discussion conducted by some of the most Senior Japanese Karate Instructors around the world concerning karate and its future, a welcome banquet, cash pools, eight different vendors, and an Easter egg hunt for the children on Easter Sunday.

Many well-known and distinguished Sensei attended this annual event. Competitors were able to meet or observe many high ranking and noted instructors such as: Takayuki Mikami, Shojiro Koyama, Fumio Demura, Morio Higaonna, Chuzo Kotaka, Minobu Miki, Hidy Ochiai, Tak Kubota, Fumiyasu Nakamura, Masaharu Sakimukai, Sadaharu Honda, Tomohiro Arashiro, Hiroyasu Kobayashi, and many other high-ranking instructors during the Ozawa Cup. During the Ozawa Cup, these instructors also conducted a Hokubei Karate-Do Shihan Kai meeting and took the opportunity to have a Senior Japanese Karate Instructor Panel to discuss Karate as the main topic. They welcomed and encouraged all dojo chief instructors to attend and partake in the discussion.

The Ozawa Cup was kicked off by Sensei Fumio Demura, who is the head of Shito Ryu Karate Do Genbu Kai, with a Thursday afternoon seminar. Sensei Demura discussed the difference between tournament Karate and traditional Karate training. He also demonstrated techniques in which an opponent was coaxed into grabbing a person’s arm and then used the grab to disable the opponent. Seminar participants had the opportunity to practice and explore Sensei Demura’s techniques.

On Friday, numerous karateka participated in another seminar led by Sensei Morio Higaonna, head of IOGKF (International Organization of Goju Ryu Karate Federation). Sensei Higaonna presented a seminar focusing on Sanchin and emphasized that everywhere or anywhere is a dojo. Participants practiced the applications of Sanchin and followed Sensei Higaonna as he led the participants in conditioning exercises.

Immediately following Sensei Higaonna’s seminar, Sensei Elisa Au, who is a 2-time WKF World Kumite Champion and a 3-time gold medalist, conducted a seminar focusing on sport kumite techniques. Sensei Au spoke about her training regimen and led the participants in a series of stretching exercises and plyometric exercises.

Sensei Au gave participants the opportunity to practice some of her winning techniques and led the participants in a drill where a person was attacked by two opponents. Later that evening, numerous participants attended the Ozawa Cup banquet. Those in attendance were treated to an exciting performance by a belly dancer, in addition to delicious food and great company.

On Saturday after the opening ceremony, kata and kumite competition commenced for all divisions. The top competitors in all individual and team Black Belt divisions advanced to Sunday's Black Belt Finals. Masters Demonstrations were also held on Sunday during the Black Belt Finals.

During the Sunday Black Belt Finals, Clay Morton of Blann's Martial Arts North Shore Dojo in Southhaven, MS and Diana Hang of Okinawa Ryuei-Ryu Karate-Do in Chula Vista, CA, won First Place honors in the Adult Black Belt Men and Women’s Kata Competitions. In the Finals, Clay Morton inched above Juan Carlos Andrade Munoz of Shoorei Kai Shito Ryu, Tijuana, Mexico, with his explosive performance of Sochin. Likewise, Diana Hang’s intense performance of Heiku earned her the gold medal over Shawna Carino of Ken Shu Kan Karate.

The precision of the kata division was matched by the excitement of the kumite competition that followed. Shawna Carino of Ken Shu Kan Karate from Waipahu,

HI took the First Place award in the Lightweight Adult Black Belt Women’s Kumite after sparring a final round with Maryna Chumakova of Las Vegas Shotokan Karate from Las Vegas, NV. Ms. Carino won the match after executing a hook kick to the face in overtime. Up to that point, the competitors were tied with two ½ points each. Nadia Meknouzi of Las Vegas Shotokan Karate from Las Vegas, NV dominated the Heavyweight Adult Black Belt Women’s Kumite division, taking the First Place award after sparring a final round against Carla Hernandez of Seiden Kai - Jesse Canedo, Cathedral City, CA. The Heavyweight Adult Black Belt Women’s Kumite offered spectators a view of sweeps, hook kicks, and reverse punches.

In the Lightweight Adult Black Belt Men's Kumite division, Ethan Hanson of Miladi Karate from Yuba, CA took a gold medal home after Brian Hilliard of Genbu Kai Shito Ryu Santa Ana, Santa Ana, CA was disqualified when he bloodied Mr. Hanson’s nose. The winner of the Heavyweight Adult Black Belt Men's Kumite division, Michael Young of Anchorage Goju-Ryu from Anchorage, AK came back after a near knock-out by Paul Atkin of Kelowna Shotokan, Kelowna, BC, Canada, winning the match as time almost ran out.

In Team competition, Miladi Karate from Yuba, CA took home the gold in Adult Black Belt Team Kata. Women's Black Belt Team Kumite was won by Las Vegas Shotokan from Las Vegas, NV and Kelowna Shotokan from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada took first place honors in Men's Black Belt Team Kumite.

In addition to competition, the Sunday Finals also featured several Master’s Demonstrations performed by Sensei: Fumio Demura, Morio Higaonna, and Ferdie Allas. Sensei Demura gave a fast-paced demonstration featuring a defense against multiple opponents. Sensei Higaonna did his rendition of Superempi and along with his son Eric, demonstrated arm conditioning exercises. Sensei Allas also performed Superempi during his demonstration along with the application of its movements that incorporated both karate and jujitsu moves. He also did a board breaking demonstration but with a little twist: the boards were held and placed against the body of the holder to illustrate that a karate punch can break through a samurai's armor.

Throughout the tournament, the competitors showed spirit and skill as they competed in their divisions. Four competitors received special recognition, however, as the Most Outstanding Competitors. The Most Outstanding Junior Competitors were: Corrine Allas and Gakuji Tozaki, both of San Diego Japan Karate-Do Center in San Diego, CA. In recognition of their achievement, Corrine and Gakuji received beautiful placards. The Most Outstanding Adult Competitors were: Nadia Meknouzi of Las Vegas Shotokan from Las Vegas, NV and Clay Morton of Blann's Martial Arts North Shore Dojo from Southhaven, MS. In recognition of their achievement, Ms. Meknouzi and Mr. Morton received beautiful, hand-crafted wooden bowls, donated by Sensei Chuzo Kotaka, head of IKF - International Karate Federation from Honolulu, HI.

The Ozawa Cup is held in honor of Shihan Osamu Ozawa (1925-1998), and was originally founded by Shihan Ozawa in 1981 to promote goodwill amongst all practitioners of traditional Karate. The 2007 Ozawa Cup will be held from April 5–8, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. WKF KUMITE and KOBUDO will be added to next year's event. In addition there will also be CASH PRIZE AWARDS. For more information, please visit the Ozawa Cup website: www.ozawacup.com. Online registration for the 2007 Ozawa Cup will be available by around beginning of December 2006, approximately (4) four months before the Tournament.