Before The Tournament Starts

I had the honor of photographing a Shiai recently in Lakewood, New Jersey. A Shiai is a Karate tournament, and this was, in particular, was an inner-school tournament. That means that all the dojos from the surrounding areas, from the same Karate school, came together to compete on Katas, Ippons, and Kumite. I recently joined the school, officially, as a white belt. I did not compete though as I was only one week in before the tournament occurred. I also don’t have a desire to compete as I’m doing Karate for myself, not for “the win”. But even so, I enjoyed photographing it!

Kata is a pattern of movement, blocks, and strikes which last between thirty seconds and three minutes typically. 

Ippon is where two people stand as if they were fighting. I call it controlled sparring. But really it’s a choreographed fight. It’s 100% controlled where no one can get hurt. These have movement, but not in the same way as Kata. They do include blocks and strikes.

Kumite is sparring, where the winner must reach three points. There are five judges during these matches, and typically there are no series injuries.

Side note: Download my free karate photography ebook.

Before the tournament started, though, I photographed all the judges and students who were there. This is that photo.


This Shiai took place at a hospital in Lakewood. As you can see, the room wasn’t huge, but there were many smiling faces ready for the day.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu