MORE than 250 karatekas from clubs around the country will converge at the NMMU Missionvale campus to take part in the Kyokushinkai National Karate International Challenge tournament in Port Elizabeth today.
The three-day tournament, hosted by the Eastern Cape Kyokushinkai Karate Association and NMMU Karate, is expected to be the biggest event of its kind in the region, with clubs from Limpopo, Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, as well as Lesotho, attending.
The tournament will have three categories – kata, semi contact and full contact – and the participants will be divided into juniors aged four to 17, seniors 18 and over (men and women in separate categories) and veterans.
The event's assistant organiser Mthi Gqamane said the tournament would be hosted every three years before the world karate tournament.
He said the first place winners in each category would compete at the World Weight Category Tournament, the Youth Friendship International Tournament and the Veterans and Women's World Karate Tournament which will be held in April in Japan.
"The intent of this tournament is to give South African fighters an opportunity to gain experience needed for the world tournament," Gqamane said.
"Kyokushinkai Karate is the largest style of karate in the world, with over 13 million members in over 130 countries."
He said the winners would also receive trophies.