Karate on the Internet

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The Independent Online

Martial Arts are on the Web in abundance, a high percentage of sites are labours of love from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan wannabes who are keen to share video clips of themselves pulling off high kicks and nifty capoeira moves or offer their thoughts about the touch of death and secret ninja societies.

At the other end of the spectrum, coverage of competitions is catered for, generally on a sport-by-sport basis. The World Karate Federation is the obvious site, in theory, to go to check out that sport. In practice, its server last week was on a go-slow, taking so long to load the front page, that only the highly motivated would have waited. It covers the world championships with a calendar going up to 2005, although the default setting is, unhelpfully, 1999.

Even more unhelpfully, its Javascript rollovers do not work properly with the latest version of Internet Explorer for Windows - the labels that pop-up to explain the purpose of navigation buttons come complete with lines of text that fail to scroll, but overwrite each other in an illegible black mess instead. If you have the patience, or its servers get better soon, the newsletter and news pages should help keep you abreast of developments in the sport and its attempts to gain recognition as an Olympic event.

The English Karate Governing Body site is the place to go for a calendar of domestic events and international fixtures with domestic interest. It doesn't run event results, being largely dedicated to the governing body rather than the day-to-day aspects of competition but, if you want to check out the pages of different karate styles, its links pages are comprehensive, pointing to appropriate English and world pages. It's quick to use, even the good-looking Shockwave version works fine, the standard Web version flies.

If you have a wider interest in martial arts as a whole, the number of sites catering to your interest plummet. This Saturday, for instance, sees the 15th Bercy Martial Arts Festival in Paris. It's a high-profile event, but not on the Web - unless you visit the Website of Karate Bushido.

Although it is the Website of a monthly print magazine, Karate Bushido acts as more than a glorified ad for subscriptions. It has articles about martial arts in general and specific techniques which are translated from the French by Alta Vista's automatic translator - there are fewer howlers than you might expect.

It has a links section to French and English sites, while its news and results pages are informative and include links to new sites and tournament details. There's a detailed outline of the programme for the Bercy Martial Arts festival where it describes the demonstrations of martial arts from different periods in history and different countries. Kung fu, Taekwondo, Samurai techniques, Ju-Jitsu, Shaui Jiao and pure karate are all on the bill. You can print out and fax an order-form for tickets - or you can just watch it live in the evening on Eurosport.

Site Addresses

World Karate Federation www.wkf.net/

English Karate Governing Body www.ekgb.org.uk/

Karate Bushido www.karatebushido.com/indexen.html