Karim Sifflet, affectionately known as Sensei Karim, a SKIF-Japan registered 3rd Dan Black Belt has made history by being the first Saint Lucian karate athlete to participate in an Olympic Karate Qualifier schedule for Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June 2021in Paris.
Karim along with his Coach / Manager, Sensei Victor Dudley left Saint Lucia on Tuesday 8th June for the Olympic qualifier.
Karim has been practicing Shotokan karate since February 1994 and currently serves as an Assistant Instructor at Budokai Karate Dojo in Corinth. It is as a result of the foundations and principles of karate such as discipline, self-confidence, humility, perseverance, and respect, to name a few, that this Olympic hopeful has excelled in the sporting and physical aspects of karate and also his professional career.
His journey as a young Karateka began in 1994 but was suspended in 2003 to pursue studies overseas in Finance and Economics in Oklahoma and Nebraska, USA, respectively. As a brown belt at that time, he faced several challenges in accessing a formal karate school to continue training but still maintained some form of self-training because of the core values of karate. This was in keeping with the principle that 30% of one’s karate training is in the dojo and the remaining 70% is outside of the dojo.
Upon completion of his studies in 2012, Sensei Karim returned to Saint Lucia, primarily to resume formal training and more so become an instructor, which was his way of giving back to the community and proving to upcoming young karateka’s that the pursuit for higher education can be done concurrently with practicing the art form of karate. Apart from his professional career and full-time employment, Sensei Karim serves on the administration of Karate-do Federation in Saint Lucia (SKFSlu) as Secretary from 2017 to date.
In 2016 during the summer Olympics, a major announcement was made that changed the landscape of karate, that is, the sport was included as an event in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. This created enthusiasm and excitement in the karate fraternity but also laid out the challenge of how Saint Lucia could participate in such event. Sensei Karim’s dream became a reality. This was his opportunity to represent his country at the highest level in sports.
The KFSLu since 2017 has facilitated the participation of national athletes in regional and international competitions to gain much needed exposure and experience. Results from participation in events in 2017 (Pan American Senior Karate Championships in Curacao) and 2018 (Central American and Caribbean Games Qualifier in Colombia) showed the need for more frequent participation in international karate events. Karim learnt many lessons from participation in those events which has enabled him to prepare for the Olympics. 2019 was a significant year for not only the KFStLu but for his growth and continued perseverance in the sport of Karate.
Karim Sifflet will be competing in the Male +75KG kumite category. This Olympic Category is a merger of the World Karate Federation’s -84KG and +84KG kumite category. To date 40 athletes (male and female) have secured a spot amongst the 32 places allocated to the four highest-ranked athletes per gender in each of the Olympic categories through year-round competitions in 2019 and 2021, while Japan was allotted a host quota of eight athletes, one per category.
Athlete Karim is vying to secure a spot among the top 3 in his category that fields approximately 75 athletes to advance to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. In total, 80 karateka (40 women and 40 men) will compete at Tokyo 2020 – 60 in kumite and 20 in kata.
As the clock ticks closer to the main Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifier, Sensei Karim Sifflet owes a debt of thanks and gratitude to the National Federation Executives, especially his Coaching Team (Sensei Michael Wellington and Sensei Kara-Lee Emmanuel), other instructors who have provided their technical expertise, fellow karateka’s who have helped him grow along the way and most importantly, the SLOC Inc for their financial support in ensuring that Saint Lucia makes history in the qualifiers.