Paragon Karate Challenge

The Story of The Paragon Karate Challenge

As a child, Sensei Cameron participated in many tournaments.  He was incredibly successful and walked away with the first place trophy for kata in most tournaments he entered, eventually earning the title of Australasian Champion for Open Kata.  So it may seem strange that when Sensei Cameron started his own Superhero Karate School, he stopped attending tournaments. Why do we have a Paragon Karate Challenge, and not a Paragon Karate tournament?

In previous stories, we have explained how Sensei Cameron often had a different view of karate to others. During the nineties, there were many tournaments in which martial artists would compete. Sensei Cameron was focused on building his own karate school, and had stopped competing for many years. 

The first and last tournament 

After a while, he took his students to a tournament. They had been asking to go. He did not allow them to compete – the reason for which would soon become clear – but he allowed the Paragon instructors to enter, and the students were encouraged to watch their teachers compete. Sensei Cameron took first place in the Open Kata, but it was the kumite (controlled sparring) that the students wanted to see. And it was the kumite that made Sensei Cameron’s mind up to not return.

After Sensei Cameron had finished his event, he took the students around the tournament to show them some other events. They found the kids’ kumite. A group of intermediate level children, 8 and 9 year olds, were getting ready to compete.

The first two competitors faced each other, bowed and commenced. Almost immediately, one of the two kids leapt at the other, flailing legs and connecting with the other child’s face.

Not Strictly Non-contact 

Sensei Cameron looked on sternly, awaiting the judge to warn the competitor that this was non-contact and deduct a point. Instead, a flag was raised and a unanimous decision to award a point to – in their words –  “a clean technique” was given by all three judges to the attacker.

Sensei Cameron continued to watch on. Again, the same attacker leapt forward, this time executing a front kick that smashed into the defender’s arms. The lack of control of the competitor and lack of enforcement of the rules by the judges was deeply concerning to Sensei Cameron. The bout continued as the defender, whilst knocked back and winded, successfully blocked the kick. This was far from non-contact.

The final straw in Sensei Cameron’s view was about to come. The father of the defender was watching on disappointed, annoyed that his son was losing the match. “Come on! Hit him!” he yelled. Sensei had had enough. This was not something Paragon would be a part of.

The Paragon Karate Challenge

For Sensei Cameron, tournaments were about challenging yourself and collaborating with others. Getting up in front of a crowd, doing your best, and allowing your family to see you achieve something great by your standards was the important part. Tournaments should not be a place for violence, uncontrolled technique and unsuper behaviour.

So the Paragon Karate Challenge was born. Our challenges include kata, board breaking, and kumite sparring.

Kumite is a term used in karate to describe the sparring aspect of the martial art. In the Paragon Karate Challenge, participants (not competitors) face a partner (not an opponent). They work collaboratively to practise and apply techniques in a controlled environment. Judges watch on and make notes, to be used in future classes to help individuals improve their techniques. Kumite is a focus on skill. The focus is on delivering techniques that make no contact, but attempt to tag an unguarded opening on an invisible shield a few inches from the opponent. 

No points are awarded, no winner announced, a place to craft your skills, not your ego. Matches finish with big smiles, a friendly ‘you got me on that last one!’ is often exchanged as both students leave the ring equally. 

That’s the Paragon Way.

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