HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – As karate makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, the karate masters of the Rio Grande Valley are showing the public the art of the sport.
The art of karate dates back thousands of years using unique techniques.
The Karate Kata category is the art of practicing correct forms and postures during competition, while Karate Kumite uses techniques and spares opponents during competition.
“Traditionally, karate has been trained on an all-wooden floor most of the time and there isn’t a lot of emphasis on competition,” said Jeremiah Walker, manager of the Rio Grande Valley Shotokan Karate Club. “The opposite is sports style karate where you have a variety of things. If you ever see the Karate Kid all the colorful uniforms and patches, it’s more of an open sports style system.
Walker trains people across the Rio Grande Valley, teaching the skills he learned in competition.
“Growing up in the ’80s was like what you would see in a Karate Kid movie. The padding was very limited, we would wear a cloth on our hands and feet,” Walker said.
Karate is finally on the main stage as an Olympic sport. However, the road to the Olympics has not been easy. The call to make it a sport dates back to the 1970s and according to Olympics.com, the International Olympic Committee approved the event in 2015.
Walker himself also competed on the world stage.
“I was able to compete and try for the WKA team that we were going to drive and travel to Kentucky at the time, that was myself and another person that I was training with. So I think for 1999-2000 we competed for the first time in Austria and the second time in Marina di Massa in Italy, ”said Walker.
When you train in the art of karate you start out as a white belt, and over the years of training the color changes.
Grandmaster Juan Gonzales teaches a variety of martial arts in his studio Johnny’s Korean Karate School.
Gonzales said there aren’t many opportunities for people to learn martial arts in the RGV.
“Here in the valley, martial arts schools were very rare. One or two in the whole valley at the time. What I did was put every book and article together and learn as much as possible, ”he said.
Both leaders said that karate teaches you more than the forms of combat.
“It really gives people something to admire. Whether you are an adult or a child, ”Walker said.
Gonzales added that it’s art, something that will never get old.
“Lots of constant learning, you never stop,” he said.