Karate makes its Olympic debut

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In a very fitting manner, karate and its ancient roots deep from the Far East is making its debut in the Tokyo Olympics with finals over the next three days.

Despite a decades-long debate, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially rejected karate for Tokyo. However, after deliberation, it was added along with three new sports: skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing.

According to the IOC, there will be 80 athletes for karate with ten competing in each of eight events (two men’s and women’s kata events and three classes each for men’s and women’s Kumite events). Eligibility will be determined by international rankings in the years leading up to karate’s Olympic debut, with each country or region fielding only one competitor.

“I’m excited. We’ve been trying for years to get into the Olympics of an outstanding art that’s done around the world,” said Randy Crudup, owner of Randy Crudup’s Karate Academy.

Crudup is also a Shihan, which in martial arts is a Japanese word meaning “expert” or “senior instructor.”

Crudup says the principles of karate are deserving of Olympic-sized attention.

“My training is relevant in terms of teaching self-discipline throughout life. It’s developing life skills for our people. You get in the habit of doing things; you can continue to be successful, as well as setting goals. You set goals, you’ll reach those goals. That applies to today, just like my students. You have goals, go into the Olympics. It applies to life skills,” Crudup said.

Nick Scialpa, a third-degree black belt student at Crudup’s Academy, loves the rigorous demands of martial art and on some levels can even relate to an Olympic athlete.

"I love karate. What it’s done for me is just learning a lot of aspects of self-control and having that indomitable spirit,” Scialpa said.

For Sensei Nick and his instructor Shihan Randy, seeing karate get international attention after decades of trying is a testament to the core principle of the martial art.

“I think that having karate in the Olympics gets to show a lot of people that all these athletes that were working so hard last year didn’t stop. They kept going, and they kept working and they persevered so I think it is a morale boost to a lot of other athletes seeing that martial arts is in there. We’re not gone, we’re here to stay, and I hope to see it in the Olympics again.

Unfortunately, the organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics have already determined that karate will not be an official event in those games.