Women in sport: Rika Usami between grace and power

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Women in sport: Rika Usami between grace and power

Born in Tokyo on February 20, 1986, Rika Usami is one of the most popular characters in Japan and also in estore. Karateka became famous at the 2012 World Championships in Paris, when she won the women's kata thanks to a simply exceptional, historical performance.

it is a pity that at the next Olympics, in Tokyo, where there will also be karate among the disciplines, she is not there. Rika withdrew from competitions in fact right after the victory at the Paris World Championship. At the age of 10 she began to practice karate in the Gōjū-ryū style, later specializing in the discipline of Kata and practicing the Shitō-ryū style.

The first major success he obtained when he was seventeen at the national school tournament. She is known for winning the 2012 World Karate Championship. During her performance in the final for gold, the audience cheered her several times and gave her a standing ovation once the kata was finished.

By virtue of the result obtained, Usami has decided to retire from competitions. Several similarities are known with compatriot Kiyou Shimizu. Both have won the Asian Games and the World Championship. They won the competition by performing the same Chatanyara Kushanku kata and beat the same person in the final, Frenchwoman Sandy Scordo.

Kata, in Japanese martial arts, are a series of codified movements that represent various fighting techniques in order to highlight the founding principles and the optimal execution opportunities. The expression is the equivalent of Taolu in Chinese martial arts.

These forms are the result of centuries of study and coding by the great masters: the primary purpose of a Kata is in fact to pass on the great knowledge acquired to the students, since within the various Kata it is possible to find all the techniques of the martial art that you are performing.

Although the main purpose of a Kata is purely didactic, its spiritual aspect should not be underestimated, according to which the practitioner lives the Kata by vibrating the deepest strings of his body by exercising a strong self-control on breathing and seeking the greatest possible effectiveness in the techniques, harmonizing everything into something that goes beyond a simple scheme.

Gōjū-ryū and Shitō-ryū

Gōjū-ryū is one of the main styles of Okinawan karate and represents a combination of hard and soft techniques. Gō refers to closed hand techniques with linear and straight attacks. Jū to open hand techniques and circular movements.

More emphasis is given to correct breathing. Gōjū-ryū uses methods that include fortifying and conditioning the body, basic approaches to combat and exercises with partners. Shitō-ryū is a combination of styles that attempts to unite the various roots of karate.

On the one hand, Shitō-ryū has the power and long and stable positions of the styles derived from Shōrin-ryū, on the other hand, even if minimally, it uses circular and directed movements in eight directions, alternating hard and techniques soft and pays attention to breathing, characteristic of Shōrei ryū.

Shitō-ryū is extremely fast, but it can be artistic and powerful. Furthermore, Shitō-ryū formalizes and emphasizes the five defense rules developed by Kenwa Mabuni, and known as: Uke no go gensoku, Uke no go genri or Uke no go ho.