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    Traditionally, the Japanese are tops in the ancient martial art of karate. But in the?

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    Traditionally, the Japanese are tops in the ancient martial art of karate. But in the finals of the fourth World Karate-do Championships in Japan on Sunday (4 December) European competitors showed how much they've improved. The Netherlands won first prize in the teams section, with West Germany and France taking second and third places. However Japan maintained some prestige by taking first and second places in the individual form championship.

    SYNOPSIS: More than 10,000 people gathered at the Nippon Budokan stadium in Tokyo to see the finals of the two-day championships, one of the world's biggest karate competitions.

    In the Kata finals Domingo Llanos of the United States was one of the highest scorers. A Kata is a fixed sequence of basic defence and attacking techniques designed for practice, and takes the form of imaginary fighting with several "attackers" approaching from different directions. In ancient times the combat techniques were kept secret, and were only passed on by word of mouth. The Kata was devised as a means of remembering different techniques and sequences. Although Llanos scored well, Japan's Keiji Okada was the final winner with 26 points.

    Llanos's final score was 25.4... just a fraction behind Japan and France in second and third places.

    In the finals of the individual Kumite section Eugene Codrington of Britain, number 12 coming in from the right, fought Otti Roethof from the Netherlands. The Kumite, or free-style fights, are always fought on a one-to-one basis, with team competitions consisting of a series of individual contests.

    Britain had made a good start in the championships, beating Japan in the first round, and Codrington had earlier been tipped to win. But Roethof was the better of the two, and with his win wrapped up the double victory for the Netherlands.

    The Dutch team won the team and individual Kumite sections, with West Germany and France runners-up in the teams event. Roethof was jubilant at winning his first international title.

    Keiji Okada, winner of the Kata section, took Japan's only gold medal.

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