We half-expected Goku to show up midway through!

On October 30, we attended a competitive event where martial artists from around the world could come together and connect through combat sports. This event wasn’t limited to standing combat rules nor to mixed martial arts rules; in fact, it was a completely distinct type of competition. Our Japanese-language reporter, Kouhey, who attended it, would even go so far as to say it was like one of Dragon Ball’s World Martial Arts Tournaments!

Its name was Keiten Aijin, literally “Revere Heaven, Love People”, and it’s been an annual event since 2018. In the past, there have been two amateur competitions and one pro competition. The event that we attended was their third amateur competition, but though there are matches with winners and losers, the event is more like a martial arts exhibition for all ages than an all-out competition.

The official name was technically “The Third Annual Keiten Aijin Practicing Martial Arts Competition”, and it was held in the Chuo Ward Municipal Combination Sports Center in Tokyo. Participants came from all kinds of martial arts backgrounds, from Japanese fighting styles like karate, judo, and aikido, to Chinese styles like Jeet Kune Do, the Russian military martial art systema, and Brazilian capoeira. With so many fighters with fighting styles from all over the world all under one roof, it really did seem like the World Martial Arts Tournament. We half expected Goku to show up!

As a rule, every match lasted one minute. Aside from the first match, winners were chosen by the audience.

When Kouhey entered the venue, he received two flyers: one red and one white. When it came time for the judgment, the audience would hold up either the red one or the white one depending on their choice, and the numbers of each would then determine who would win the match.

If a verdict couldn’t be reached by that method, the children attending in the audience would be asked, and if that didn’t yield results, the winner would be determined by the number of judges’ flags.

One of the organizers of this event was none other than former UFC fighter Katsunori Kikuno, who has long championed the idea that “Anyone at any age can be strong”. He runs dojo known as “Dare Tsuyo DOJOy”, whose name is based on the Japanese translation of his slogan and the idea that martial arts can bring joy as well as strength to anyone.

Since Keiten Aijin is founded on the principle of “martial arts that parents would want to show their kids”, the tournament is conducted under a set of 14 practical rules for self-protection as well as improving physical and spiritual strength. For example, since there are bound to be hits to the face…

Participants were required to wear face guards and other protective material and also had to hold back jabs to the face, eyes, and genitals. Even though the martial artists were fighting with bare hands, it required quite a lot of skill to follow that rule, so Kouhey was thoroughly impressed with the fighters he witnessed.

There were lots of kinds of bouts exhibited throughout the event. “Knife vs. bare hands”

“Baton vs. Bare hands”

“Knife vs. Bag” (as if a salaryman were defending himself with his briefcase)…

And even 3 vs. 3 competitions!

Each display was meant to be fought like real life, but they definitely had an air of entertainment to them. Several famous martial arts YouTubers even made appearances, which made Kouhey’s day, since he was a big fan of each and every one of them. Having them all appear in one place was like a dream come true!

Lastly, the even held a panel where the kids attending could fight against some martial artists, melee style. It was actually kind of heartwarming to watch, and super cute.

At the end of the day, when all the matches were over, all the winners were announced and the special prizes and MVP awards were given out.

Keiten Aijin initially offered presale and at-the-door tickets, but the event ended up being so popular that presale tickets were sold out within one day, and the at-the-door entry had to be cut off quickly as so many people wanted to attend.

If you couldn’t attend the event but want to see the matches, you can check out Keiten Aijin’s YouTube channel, where they plan to periodically upload videos of the matches. Once you see what these guys can do, you might be inspired to go break some boards–or roof tiles–yourself.

They haven’t announced when the next Keiten Aijin will be held, or even if it will be another amateur competition, but if it’s anything like this year’s event, its tickets are bound to sell out fast when it’s announced. It’s completely worth attending, so if you’re interested, keep your eye on the competition’s movements so you can get your hands on tickets right away!

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