Yuki Ujihara of Switzerland spearheads a new generation of Kata athletes hoping to take the discipline by storm. With his qualification to the semi-finals of the 2023 European Games, Ujihara demonstrated the renovation in the Kata categories has arrived.
“I have shown that everything is possible. Even coming from a small country like Switzerland, I have proved that with hard work you can achieve anything,” said Ujihara after making it to the semi-finals of the Male Kata competition of the 2023 European Games in Bielsko-Biala.
Yuki Ujihara qualified to fight for the medals of the European Games after finishing in the second position of Pool B, with two victories and one defeat. The Swiss athlete started his performance in Bielso-Biala losing against current champion Damian Quintero of Spain but bounced back to defeat Franck Ngoan of France and Vladimir Mijac of Montenegro.
“I had a very tough year,” Ujihara admits. “I had an injury, and I could not train much. This affected me physically and mentally. This is why it was important for me to show that I am back; to show all those who helped me and supported me that I am fighting for them.”
Ranked in the 10th position in the WKF World ranking, Ujihara is a three-time continental bronze medallist. After taking third place at the last three EKF Championships, the promising Kata athlete is ready for new challenges. “I want gold!”, he said.
The 22-year-old athlete uses his Japanese background in his favour when performing Kata. Born in Switzerland to a Japanese father, he states the influence that the birth nation of the sport has in his Karate career.
“I try to go to Japan twice a year. I travel to Okinawa (birthplace of Karate and major Kata hub) to train with my sensei,” he said. “The values and tradition of Karate help people who are not from Japan to understand the philosophy of the sport and the country. For me, having Japanese roots inspires me to keep training and learn more about Japan’s history.”
The Karate competition of the 2023 European Games is scheduled from June 22 to 23 and it will be available live on europeangames.tv