Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020

Sakura Kokumai Says Competing in Karate at the Olympics Is a 'Dream of a Dream'

.@usankf's @SakuraKokumai is eyeing gold at #Tokyo2020.

7/22/2021 2:15:00 AM

.usankf's SakuraKokumai is eyeing gold at Tokyo2020.

Sakura Kokumai is the only woman karate athlete from the United States competing at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.

competing at the Tokyo Olympics. Being in the Games this summer, she told POPSUGAR, is a"dream of a dream" — and she can't wait to introduce the sport she's so passionate about to the world. For many, she knows it'll be the first time they're seeing karate on a stage this size.

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In Tokyo, karate makes its Olympic debut with two disciplines: the sparring discipline of kumite, which features three different weight classes for men's and women's divisions, and kata, where athletes compete alone and are judged on performances featuring specific moves and techniques. Growing up in karate, Kokumai, a world bronze medalist and

, said you were expected to train both disciplines in your dojo, but she switched over to kata completely by age 17.Kokumai explained that70 percent of scoring in kata is technical and 30 percent is based on athleticism."They look at all the precise things: where you punch, how you're moving your feet from stance to stance," she said."For athleticism, they're looking at speed, power." She thinks of kata as an art form, stating,"There's just something special about the karate movements that we are able to move people through our performance. Every time people come up to me and say, 'Hey, I don't know what you did, but that was amazing. I have goosebumps.' That, to me, is a huge win."

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kokumai had been living out of a suitcase since 2018, competing in thePremier League Read more: POPSUGAR Fitness »

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