Representing the USA Karate National Team
First year student at the Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies
Karate competitions are divided into two events: one-on-one fights known as kumite and competitions where individuals or groups display their techniques or precise movements called kata. Member of the USA Karate National Team, Sakura Kokumai, was born in Hawaii with American citizenship and specializes in kata. Kokumai used her speed and power to come out on top at the Pan American Karate Championships held this May. “I started karate when I was eight. After winning my first US national championship, I started competing in a variety of international competitions. In junior high school, I was very happy that I could travel to foreign countries to compete. This became my motivation for training,” says Kokumai.
Although she was smiling throughout our interview, Kokumai emits an entirely different aura when she performs kata, unleashing her techniques with extraordinary precision and force. Daily training is what enables Kokumai to perform at the global level. “I am always fighting with myself. I set a goal, train to achieve it, and get results equal to the amount of effort I put in. I enjoy this process.”
Karate may be added to the list of events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Kokumai spoke passionately about this topic, stating, “It would be the first opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal of the karate community. I would definitely compete.” Supported by both America and Japan, Kokumai will continue to compete in hopes of one day reaching the Olympics.
Born in Hawaii, Sakura Kokumai graduated from Okayama Gakugeikan Senior High School and Doshisha University. She practices the Shito-ryu school of karate. In the kata event of the Pan American Karate Championships, Kokumai has won the junior division (under 18) four times in a row and finished first or second in the senior division (18 and over) for five years running. Kokumai is training to win at the Pan American Karate Championships again in 2016 in order to participate in the 2016 Karate World Championships. At the Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies, Kokumai studies culture and communication as it relates to karate. Kokumai is a member of the Waseda University Karate Club and practices with the club from 5-7pm before practicing by herself from 7-9pm. In her free time, she enjoys movies, music, and the arts.
Original article from Waseda Weekly