De los Santos making waves in online tournaments | Inquirer Sports

De los Santos making waves in online tournaments

/ 04:00 AM August 09, 2020

Sure, there’s nothing quite like live competition. The roar of the crowd, the incisive gaze of officials and seeing an opponent in the flesh—they make up an experience like no other.

But for former national karateka James de los Santos, there’s also an upside to the virtual editions of contests.

“The big advantage of virtual tournaments is that I’m able to compete in so many of them,” he told the Inquirer on Saturday. “I’ve been able to compete against players from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Australia.


“In my 12 years [with] the national team, I’ve competed mostly against Asian players and the competitions were limited—around one or two tournaments a year on average,” he added.


De los Santos’ take comes on the heels of a masterful performance in the Balkan Open, an online kata competition last Thursday where he registered 3,270 points to supplant Leonardo Birra of Italy and secure the world leaderboard’s No. 2 spot.

It was the third golden performance by the 30-year-old athlete, who last made headlines after his sour parting of ways with the Philippine national team.

Around November last year, De los Santos alleged Karate Pilipinas, the national federation, of wrongful evaluation that cost him a chance to compete in the 30th Southeast Asian Games here.

De los Santos, however, continued to train while completing his advertising degree. It was only until around summer, he said, when he gave virtual tournaments a try.

“[O]ne of my teammates told me about the Palestine International Karate Cup last April. I was curious about how these virtual tournaments work,” he said. “That led me to wonder if there were any more tournaments.”

De los Santos tabbed gold in that contest and found more competitions through the World Karate Federation’s Sportdata site.


Unlike kumite, kata focuses more on movements and forms making it one of the few sports that could easily transition to a digital setup as the world continues to reel from the coronavirus scourge.

De los Santos says there wasn’t much of an adjustment from his end.

“I compete for the love of the sport. I’ve always believed that karate is a never-ending journey and that there’s always something new ahead,” he said.

However, he still prefers live staging for the thrill and the travels that came with it.

As it turns out, De los Santos has not lost a step even after that unfortunate episode last November.

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“As long as you work hard and strive to be the best, you can never be put down no matter what obstacles you face,” he said. “[And] I’ve always believed that action speaks louder than words.”

TAGS: James De Los Santos

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