Getting her kicks: student earns international gold in Shito-ryu

tanding in the middle of a room surrounded by officials, junior Mahima Tripathi, gets ready to perform her Kata at a black or brown belt event. She must make sure every step is solid, every sound is loud, and every move is perfect. There are three judges on the side, and one in every corner of the “cage,” who will determine whether or not she is the winner.
Two months ago, Tripathi moved to America from India with her parents. Although she left many friends behind, she brought a very unique talent with her: the ability to perform Shito-ryu karate, a form of martial arts.
“I’ve been doing Shito-ryu since the first grade,” Tripathi said. “At first it was because my dad wanted me to protect myself, but I love doing it and it is a lot fun.”
Not only has Tripathi competed in district and state competitions back in India, but she has also competed on national and international levels. The international competition included five other countries ranging from Naples to Hong Kong.
“My coach had urged me to sign up for the competitions, so I did,” Tripathi said. “My favorite one was the international because I won two gold medals.”
Each competition lasts about two minutes, and athletes must earn more than eight points to win. Final rounds are extended to three minutes. If there is a tie, the fighters get one extra minute, and whoever scores first wins.
“Every move that we make when fighting has to be precise,” Tripathi said. “I usually go for kicking because I’m so short. It’s hard to fight against people bigger than you.”
Each fighter is in a certain category according to their skill level and belt grade. There are different forms of the karate for the different events. Bassai-dai Kata is a more advanced form of Shito-ryu. It is the main level for black belts.
In the international competitions, there are team events. In these events, each team has an assigned color. The officials raise a colored flag for the team that did better, and whoever has the most flags raised wins.
Tripathi has won four gold medals and several bronze ones. She has competed in one international, one national, three or four state, and many district competitions.
“I couldn’t continue because I left India,” Tripathi said. “It’s kind of a let down, but I’m glad I gained the skills and experience when I could.”