Wellesley’s Shotokan Karate Club was only formed this past September, but it has already had members place in the top three spots at local tournaments. Training in collaboration with Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tufts University with instruction by Sensei Kazumi Tabata, who trained in direct line from the founder of Shotokan Karate, this new club has created opportunities for students to explore their passion for karate while on campus.
Shotokan Karate is a Japanese style of martial arts that is considered offense-oriented and focuses primarily on rhythm, timing and control, though self-defense techniques are also taught and emphasized. There are three main components of Shotokan karate training. First, “kihon” (basic training) emphasizes the mechanics of basic blocks, kicks, stances, punches and breathing techniques. The techniques learned in kihon are then put into practice in “kata” (forms), which are choreographed movements using a combination of kihon techniques. Lastly, members train in “kumite” (sparring), in which they spar against opponents and demonstrate power and technique without inflicting injuries. The main philosophy behind Shotokan Karate is to perfect each technique so that in real-life situations, one can significantly harm an opponent with only a single blow or movement. Shotokan Karate is a physically demanding art form, but there is no previous athletic experience or martial arts knowledge required to join Wellesley’s team. All that is necessary is having the spirit of karate and a willingness to learn!
On Sunday, Oct. 14, the Wellesley Shotokan Karate team traveled to Providence, RI for the Brown University Fall 2018 Tournament. In the Kumite Beginner Division, Hanamei Shao ’21 picked up a second place award.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, the team competed at the University of Connecticut Husky Cup Tournament. Three athletes received awards. Ayusha Ariana ’22 won first place in the Kata White Belt Division and first place in the Kata Beginner Division, Amy Liu ’22 won third in the Kata White Belt Division and Ann Xu ’22 won first place in the Kumite White Belt Division.
Wellesley is not the first Boston-area college to have a Shotokan Karate team — Boston University, MIT and Tufts do as well — nor will it be the first Seven Sisters college to do so. At Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, students can join the University of Massachusetts Amherst team, and at Barnard, students can join the Columbia University Shotokan Karate Club.
In the past, a few Wellesley students have gotten involved in karate by training on other college campuses, but this year the team is excited to host practices on-campus at Wellesley. Their practices are on Tuesday and Saturday evenings in the Keohane Sports Center, with optional Friday evening trainings at MIT. The club is currently in the process of becoming constituted, and once the process is complete, the Shotokan Karate Club will officially be the second martial arts organization at Wellesley, alongside Wellesley Wushu.