The World Karate Federation Karate1 Premier League event in Jakarta ended on Sunday, and Indonesia’s karateka responded by sending out a plea for more international opportunities.
While hosting an event at the martial art’s top level, the country’s fighters struggled to compete against the world’s best and finished with just one gold medal and four bronzes in the two-day event at Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Indoor Stadium.
The lone gold came from Aswar, Faizal Zainuddin and Fidelys Lolobua of Indonesia 1 in men’s team kata, while the Indonesia 2 team earned the bronze.
The women’s kata teams — Indonesia 1 and 2 — produced two bronze medals, and Yellovin Prasetyo secured the country’s only medal from kumite, or fighting. He finished in third place in the men’s 60-kilogram division.
The team came up one gold medal shy of its two-gold target, which was set by the country’s karate federation (Forki) before the tournament began.
Iran topped the medal tally with four golds, six silvers and seven bronze medals, followed by Japan (4-2-4) and France (3-0-2), which placed second and third, respectively.
Aswar said that the skill level of Indonesia’s competitors are not that far behind others. What made the difference, he said, was that most local athletes did not have enough experience against top international competition.
“The more we compete in tournaments, the more we’ll improve. We need those kind of experiences,” Aswar said on Sunday. “Europe, I think, should be the destination because the continent has become karate’s new mecca since a lot of top tournaments are held there.”
Six of the 10 Karate1 series this year will be in Europe, with the grand final held in Salzburg, Austria, on Dec. 8-9.
Wiwik Pertiwi, who lost in the second round of women’s kumite 61kg division, also urged Forki to give local athletes more opportunities to compete in international tournaments.
“Competing in more tournaments will boost our confidence,” she said.
Forki chairman Hendardji Soepandji rejected that notion.
“Most of our karatekas fell short because they didn’t react quickly enough to attack when they had the opportunity,” he sniffed, referring to their matches.
“[Forki] has been sending athletes to WKF and AKF [Asian Karate-do Federation] events. So the lack of experience is not an excuse.”