Dear Branch Chiefs and Contacts,
Thank you for your continuous cooperation and support towards the activities of WKO.
In Japan, the beautiful pattern of the red and yellow autumn leaves reminds us that we are in the middle of autumn. I imagine that all of you are busy carrying out your various activities.
As WKO, we were able to organize the 7th World Karate Championship in Weight Categories in Kielce, Poland on September 24-25. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Poland Branch led by Shihan Remigiusz Karpinski, for organizing this wonderful event. Thank you very much. For the Branch Chiefs and Contacts around the world, it had been 3 years since our last meeting in 2019 at the occasion of the 12th World Open Karate Championship held in Tokyo. In addition to the long time that had passed, the reunion after enduring the COVID-19 crisis made it a happiness that is beyond description. To exchange words and shake hands. To feel the warmth and share the same atmosphere. To eat and sleep together, and move forward towards the same goal. I felt the strength of our bond that is connected by Full Contact Karate. For the competitors who participated in the tournament, you did very well. To prepare for this tournament, you overcame various limitations in your daily life, and you believed in what you needed to do and completed your training. I would like to express my appreciation and respect by praising the effort of all competitors. I was also deeply touched by the cheering of the Branch Chiefs, coaches, and family members that supported the competitors. Congratulations to the prizewinners. The efforts you continued to this day bore fruit. For the competitors that could not become prizewinners, you fought courageously. I have high expectations for your next fight, where you will use this experience to train even harder.
In addition, it is hard to put into words the feelings in my heart when I was reunited with the Branch Chiefs from Ukraine, and when I saw the competitors go up on the tatami, after overcoming all of the difficult times. The great performance of Alona Veresniak, who finished 3rd in the Women Lightweight Category, connected the hearts of all Ukrainians. I am sure that this trophy will give courage and hope to the comrades in Ukraine. Congratulations to the Ukrainian people on the prizewinning result of Alona. Warriors do not take breaks, and please make use of each moment of each day to train and prepare for the upcoming 13th World Open Karate Championship. In addition, many members from South America, South Africa, Australia and other countries attended this event. Also from Japan, approximately 100 related members transferred flights and arrived in Poland. I am sure that the gathering of comrades from around the world to Poland, a country neighboring Ukraine, encouraged the people in Ukraine and Europe. The extent of the hardship involved in the preparation, operation, and organization of this tournament. I am sure that the hard work related to the repeated postponement of the event was beyond imagination.
After Sosai Oyama passed away, Shihan Jacek Baranowski continued the branch activities in Poland, and in 2010, with the joining of many comrades led by Shihan Remigiusz Karpinski, the current Country Representative, the axis of the activities became thick and stronger. This was a big turning point in the history of the country. In terms of competitors, many strong competitors were developed, led by Maciej Mazur, who has a great competition record in past World Championships, and with the warm support from the home crowd, also fought hard in the Final of this tournament. Sensei Tomasz Kecko, who also did his best in the organizing of the tournament, did not show his fatigue, and he challenged himself in the grading exam, did a great job, and passed the exam. 12 years after the above-mentioned turning point, I feel that with the success of this tournament, a new door has opened for a new era in Poland. I wish for the further development and growth of the country.
As for organizational matters, Committee Meetings, the Board Meeting, and the General Assembly were also held, and there were many constructive viewpoints from the participants. Since WKO is a collection of people, let us join hands and continue our movement forward, so that we can be an organization where people can expand their dreams. At this tournament, it was sad that we could not meet Shihan Kalman, Shihan Muthukumarana, and Shihan Iinuma, the members who passed away last year, but I felt that they were with us at the tournament venue, watching over us and the event. May they continue to rest in peace. The slogan for this tournament was the wish for “Heiwa” (peace). I sincerely hope and pray that peace will return soon for the people around the world who are suffering from war and conflicts. I will go to training today, with the belief that mastering our mind through Full Contact Karate, will lead to world peace. I also have in my mind and heart, the existence and regret of the comrades who could not be present at the tournament, even if they wanted to. With the belief that we will be reunited someday, let us continue the activities that only we can do, the promotion of Full Contact Karate around the world.
Lastly, the Full Contact Karate movement, which was at a pause due to the COVID-19 crisis, has been restarted. Soon after the World Championship, the EFKO Camp was held, and led by Shihan Koen Spitaels, I received a report that many karateka from various organizations and groups in Europe participated in the event. For the exchange between various organizations, and the innovative plans and projects aimed at uniting the new generation of karateka, while enjoying it, let us continue to widen our circle of comrades with the spirit of Budo deep in our hearts.
We only have 2 months left in this year. I imagine that there are still many tournaments and events planned around the world. Please take good care of your health, and I will be looking forward to meeting you again.