Attitude, altitude to meet in karate tourney
Park City is a well-known magnet for anything Olympic.
Just ask Doug Jepperson, the head instructor of Park City Karate, the only officially-sanctioned United States Olympic Committee (USOC) karate school in Utah.
"We chose Park City, specifically, because of the attitude and atmosphere in Park City," he said. "There’s a lot of great athletes, and there’s a great environment. This town has provided a higher level of training in karate."
This weekend, the third annual USA Karate-Utah State Championships and National Tournament Qualifier for Olympic Sport Karate will take place at the Basin Fieldhouse Saturday and Sunday.
This isn’t your typical karate tournament. Winners here move on to a national tournament and could eventually qualify for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Karate Team.
For an athlete to compete in the United States national tournament in Arlington, Texas, July 13-14, he or she must qualify through regional qualifiers such as the one at the Fieldhouse, Jepperson said. The competition will feature two forms of competitive karate: Kata, a traditional form, and Kumei, which includes sparring techniques.
"We’re trying to establish a competition base in karate," Jepperson said. "We want to raise the level of competition of karate and judging, and improve consistency of performance."
Park City Karate is part of the USA-NKF (USA National Karate Foundation), which is a division of the USOC.
Jepperson said in order to spawn the best talent, you must have the top referees, coaches and trainers available to the athletes and that’s what he has tried to do at Park City Karate.
"Since we are with Olympic Committee, every referee is certified through them," he said. "All coaches have to be certified to coach there as well and competing athletes have to be members of the USA-NKF."
Jepperson is also a national technical committee member of the USOC, which establishes guidelines within Olympic karate. He’s also a certified club member of USOC Karate.
So why Park City, of all places, for such a high profile and meaningful tournament for athletes from all over the Western United States?
"I’ve been involved with karate for 40 years, and selected to be a part of the technical committee a year ago," Jepperson said. "One of my responsibilities is trying to improve the grassroots that we think are receptive to Olympic styles.
"That’s Park City for you. We’ve had tremendous success. Very well received, a lot of students, a lot of classes. That’s where the grassroots are."
Jepperson said there are upwards of 100 athletes at Park City Karate at the moment.
Meanwhile, this weekend will bring some of the country’s best athletes to Park City and the festivities promise to be special.
On Saturday, there will be karate seminars all day, including a weapons demonstration by Anthony C. Marquez, the head martial arts director for Disneyland, who choreographs all martial arts and simulated fights at Disney.
Also Saturday, there will be a "Fit to Fight" seminar given by Tim McClelland, trainer extraordinaire, and Joe Talerico, a nine-time USA Karate National Champion, on the physical and mental preparation of karate.
"You can see by the people we’re bringing in, it’s truly a national event," Jepperson said. "We want the very best in the country to come here."
Then, Sunday morning brings the real event.
Jepperson said things will kick off at around 9 a.m. at the Fieldhouse with competitors ranging from six years old up to 50.
"It’s a national qualifier, and a local grassroots tournament to develop Olympic style karate," Jepperson said. "So far, we’ve been very successful and very well received."
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