Local athlete Mark Chast represented the United States at the first international Kata World Championships, Oct. 17-18 in Valletta, Malta. Chast and his partner Heiko Rommelmann placed sixth in the Judo Show division.
“Ever since I started training in judo I’ve wanted to compete for the U.S. team,” says Chast, who was recently promoted to nidan, a second-degree black belt. “To be able to finally do that was a great honor for me, and I couldn’t have made it there without my teammates and the people I train with.”
Chast has participated in the sport for more than 12 years and currently trains at the Bushido Kai Judo Club in Penfield, N. Y. He works as a systems administrator for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the college, completing the dual bachelor’s and masters degree in electrical engineering in 2006.
The Bushido Kai Judo Club had seven of its members on the 15-member international squad in Malta, including Chast. Athletes competed in different divisions of kata, the forms-based judo discipline where two competitors perform a set routine and are judged on precision of movements.
Teams from 25 different countries, including Japan, Finland, Italy and Poland competed at the event. Kata competitions are currently a separate part of a country’s national tournaments and featured at the Pan American Championships. This was the first time kata world championships were held.
“We knew going into this that we would be against stiff competition. In the U.S., a lot of emphasis is put on winning the all-around championship at Nationals. Teams learn and train in multiple kata’s,” Chast says. “We would have liked to place better, but we were proud of what we showed.”