Karate athletes to kick into action
Ask Doug Jepperson what he’s most excited to see this weekend at the fourth annual Utah State Karate Championships and USA Karate National Qualifier, and the head instructor of Park City Karate said it isn’t the results.
"We think these are great life lessons, particularly because you don’t have to win in order to validate your existence on the karate mat," he said. "It’s not about the gold medal; it’s about the process. We teach that hard work is more important than the glory.
"John Wooden never asked his team to win the game, but he did ask them for their personal best. The only satisfaction you get when you’re an athlete is that you know you gave it your very best."
The tournament, which is scheduled to include 150 of the top karate athletes in the western United States, will be held at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse Saturday, with competition kicking off at 9 a.m.
Athletes from ages 4 to 18 are expected to vie for Utah championships, as well as qualify to compete at the USA Karate National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 11.
Jepperson sits on the technical committee for the USA National Karate Federation, which is managed by the United States Olympic Committee. He said the reason Park City has been home to such a monumental tournament over the years is because of its ties to the Olympics and that legacy.
"We certainly could have a bigger turnout in Salt Lake City, but with all the Olympic things we have in Park City, it’s more for the environment and the people," he explained.
According to a press release, the tournament will bring in some of the top karate competitors in the country including Tom Scott, the 2012 champion of the Pan American and U.S. Open karate championships. Teams from around the country including Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Utah will be in attendance. In addition, the Park City Karate Competition Team, as well as the school’s students (all local kids), will be there showing their karate skills.
Scott, who will also be a member of the United States’ karate squad in London for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, will host a special karate kumite (fighting) seminar this Friday at the Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. The cost is $30 for participants and $25 for spectators.
Jepperson said he was able to pull a few strings to get Scott to Park City for this event. He said having the No. 2 karate athlete in the world — No. 1 in North and South America will be a huge draw considering the close proximity to the London Games. He said Scott will take a tour of the Center of Excellence Friday to see what the country’s top winter athletes do in the off-season and how they train.
"If you want your sport to grow, you need to let the kids see the future and the future is somebody who they can emulate," Jepperson said. "That’s how basketball grew crazy with Michael Jordan. Tom is 22, just graduated from college (Texas Christian University), a terrific athlete, a wonderful young man, so I want my kids to see him in that seminar and hopefully he will help."
The bulk of the local athletes competing this weekend will be 15 and under, according to Jepperson. He expects his younger talents to shine. Of the 150 athletes expected to compete, he estimated that roughly 40 percent will be home grown.
"It’s truly a grassroots effort," he said. "I’m excited to see our students — the ones we train here in Park City — to see if we have an opportunity and to see how we compete."
Jepperson reiterated that it’s about the process, not about the trophies or medals.
"We don’t spend our time breaking boards or cutting cakes with samurai swords," he said. "We’re training people to be karate athletes."
For more information on tournament registration, the Tom Scott Seminar or referee training, visit http://www.parkcitykarate.com or call 435-655-5755.
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