Five fighters from Cape Town represented South Africa at the International Karate Organisation (IKO) KyokushinKai Karate Elite World Championships held in Tokyo, Japan, recently.The South African Team, sanctioned by Karate South Africa (KSA), went through a strict selection process before being chosen with Protea colours. In total, 18 fighters were selected with Protea colours. The five Cape Town fighters were former All-Africa champion Xolani Gumede (men’s open division), Sarah Newton and Lilly Edmonds (both junior girls elite) and Shihan Jason Dawes and JP Naudé (both in the seniors’ division).The colours each fighter received are official Protea colours awarded by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), which is a first for IKO KyokushinKai South Africa.The team competed under the IKO full contact rules which see full-contact fighting. Winners are only awarded a victory on decision or knockdown basis.“I competed in the seniors’ division and managed (to earn) a silver medal under the guidance of eighth Dan Shihan Kenny Uytenboghaardt (head of IKO - Kyokushin Africa),” says Naudé.The open division sees approximately 200 of the world’s best full-contact KyokushinKai Karate members compete over three days to ultimately have one champion. “Considering that the open division has no protective gear, the fighting is extremely physical and only the toughest, fittest and most skilled fighters will make it to the top 32 on the final day,” says Naudé.He adds that fighters are required to train extremely hard for this competition. Candidates train up to six days per week in traditional karate, gym work and competitive training classes in the hope of qualifying for this tournament.This year, training included several fighting classes and mountain training at Rhodes Memorial on Sundays.“This mountain training is very hard and leaves all exhausted by the end of the workout,” says Naudé.