Monday, October 15, 2018

Una Flynn on Karate, Kata and Tokyo2020 dreaming

Imagine remembering over 70 different moves with judges watching every turn and your opponent waiting in the wings to out-point you - if you allow her. Una Flynn describes the Kata discipline in Karate as tough but she’s on course for a high world ranking to send her on the road to Tokyo2020.

Una is the highest ranked Irish woman in the Kata discipline and is preparing for the World Championships in November. Each tournament from now on is a points-race for the Olympics.

I’m more familiar with Kumite - sparring and fighting in pairs to anyone else new to karate – but Kata has its own challenges. Kata is performing a series of movements in sequence, each series can comprise 30 to 70 moves, and they have to be done in order. Practice is Una’s friend.

She says: “Some of the sequences are short, you could have 74 but a move could be step to the side or it could be a certain type of kick. It’s tough. After you finish a long sequence you think ‘great, got through that!’ It’s about the breathing too, it’s so important. You don’t want to get five breaths in during 70 moves and run out of breath.” 

The Galwaywoman says making the choice between Kata and Kumite was easy for her, as she felt was just better at this side of the sport.

Una trains three to four times a week, with two general Karate sessions at the club as well. One of her coaches is Marie Dolphin who is also the national Kata coach. Una's main coach is John Dolphin also based in  Galway so she's well set-up without the need to travel.

That's important because like most Irish athletes prepping for Tokyo she is working full-time.

“I’ve been really lucky with work. I’m a gym supervisor now at Bloomfield House in Mullingar and they’re so supportive. And they have a great gym, it has wooden floors and mirrors so I can go in early before work and get in training by myself. It’s great. They are sponsoring my gi for the Worlds too, that's great,” Una says.

The Worlds in Madrid on November 6th are Una’s first chance to start building points towards the Olympics. It’s a tough road in Karate as first you have to get into the Top 100 which allows you a place in the K-1 events. Every point scored there is worth double that of lower ranked Karatekas.

Una is currently World Ranked 256.

“After the Worlds – depending on how things go – I’m hoping to break into the Top 200, and then keep building points to get into the 100. I hope that by this time next year,  I will be in the Top 100,” she says.

It’s a slow process, but having already competed in Japan in 2013 she’s determined to get back again. Karate as a martial art has grown far beyond it’s home, but Una says there is still something special about competing there.

“Karate is very popular there, but it’s like the GAA in Ireland we love it but not everyone does it. But you have all the history and tradition that’s behind it, we use the Japanese terms for the moves. It was amazing being there, and I’d love to go back again.

“The Olympics are my dream, this year has been really big for me. I’m working hard and it’s paying off.”

Follow Una Flynn's Karate Road to Tokyo on Instagram 

Find out more about Irish Karate on Karate Ireland  

Meet more Irish women competing in Karate: 

Caradh O' Donovan 

Shauna Mullaney   

Aneta Meskauskiene

(All pics Una Flynn Instagram)   

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