by Renshi Riaan Van Dyk

Members representing Team VDK Elite Kata traveled to the Chicago, Illinois area to compete in the AAU Central & Great Lakes District Karate Championships. The American Athletic Union Karate Program offers the best in pure Traditional Karate for Youth Practitioners and Competitors.

Traditional Karate is so much different from Sport Karate. For example, in Sport Karate a competitor only has to do their form (Weapons or Open-Hand) once per set division and the form is done solo. The competitor’s form is then scored. In Traditional Karate tournaments a competitor goes head to head with another competitor in what is known as a Kata Challenge. Both of these competitors are on the mat as the same time presenting and demonstrating their forms. At the end of the Kata Duel, Five Highly Qualified and Experienced Judges pick a winner by show of flags. So keep winning the Judges decision and you get to keep to compete. Lose and you are out after your second loss. To make this harder for the competitors, in every forms round the competitor must present and perform a different form than the form delivered in the round before. This means that in a field of 32 competitors to make it to the medal round one would have to go out on the mat and compete head to head five different times. At the AAU Nationals it is common to see a field of 128 competitors in a division which means a competitor must be ready to present and perform up to seven rounds and know seven to eight different forms. This kind of training needed for this is hard and a student/competitor must be seriously dedicated to their art/sport.

Now that the International Olympic Committee has decided to include Traditional Karate as a Competitive Sport in the 2020 Tokyo Games there has been a reawakening in the return to and practicing and competing in Traditional Karate versus Sport Karate (which is known more for flashy back flips and tricks you might see in a Jackie Chan Movie). So since we here at Team VDK have decided to step away from the flashy forms and sparring of Sport Karate to concentrate more on the beautiful and pure traditional aspect of Traditional Karate, Team VDK Elite Kata did very well in their return to Traditional Karate Tournaments. Months of long nights in practice and study sure can bear great fruit and for young Hunter Malensek that is exactly what happened. Hunter competed in the 14-15 Boys Advanced Division in both Traditional Weapons and Traditional Kata. After competing against very strong competition from all over the Midwest Region, winning the call on some Tough Judging and enduring several rounds of performing Kata upon Kata, Hunter earned the positive results he had worked and hoped for. End result for Hunter: 2 Gold Medals and qualified to compete in both the AAU Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the Junior Olympics later this year.