More than 2,000 people from across the globe flocked to Dundee as Scotland’s biggest ever karate event got under way.
Athletes, coaches and spectators from as far afield as Brazil, Argentina, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Egypt and the US made their way to the city’s ice arena for the first day of the World Union of Karate-Do Federations (WUKF) World Championships.
The event will run until Sunday, welcoming some 2,280 competitors of all ages and 230 coaches.
The transformed ice rink was full of shouts and cheers as athletes went head-to-head in combat in the likes of kata, kumite and team events.
Dundee’s Roy O’Kane, president of host club Kanzen Karate, said the competition had drawn the “best karate athletes in the world”.
He added: “We have over 40 countries here, over 2,200 participants, 110 referees, 230 coaches from all over the world here in the spirit of international karate competition.
“This is absolutely one of the top events on the karate calendar. We have top athletes from all over the world here in Dundee trying to become champions. The international audience profile is very diverse.
“People are here mixing together, making friendships and really having a good time and enjoying their karate.
He added the economies of Dundee and Angus would be boosted to the tune of “millions of pounds” by the championships.
“The bars are full, the hotels are full, we have people staying in St Andrews, Perth and Angus so there is overspill into those areas,” Mr O’Kane said.
“Dundee and Angus Convention Bureau estimate the event itself is worth millions of pounds. I think it is a very, very good thing for Dundee.”
Honorary president of the WUKF, and president of the Brazilian Confederation of Karate Interestilos (CBKI), Osvaldo Messia Oliveria said: “(It is) one of the best events of the world here in Dundee. We are very happy to be here. We are here not for medals, but to get friendships, to get friends.”
Kata competitor Pamela Wollf made the journey from Chicago with more than 100 martial artists from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in the US.
The 65-year-old attorney, who is a grandmother, said it was a “wonderful” feeling to represent her country.
She added: “I’ve never competed internationally before. The people are really, really friendly. It is wonderful to see faces from all over the world to compete. It is really exhilarating.
“I started competing in my mid-50s and have become very passionate about it, and I’d love to see more people on the older ranges come out to compete.”
Lutha Singata, 20, and Linde Delport, 23, made the journey to Dundee from Grahamstown, South Africa, with the United Shotokan-Ryu.
Mr Singata said: “We’ve come here not for the medals only, but for the experience. We used to only national championships or local championships in South Africa. It’s a beautiful country, it’s a beautiful town.”
Mr Delport said: “This is the furthest we’ve come. (Dundee) is quite impressive, it’s a really cool town. We’ve never done something like this before.”
Declan Gahan and Peter Roche, of the Pat Rocket Martial Arts club, travelled from Waterford in Ireland as part of a 25-strong group to watch their children take part in the competition.
Mr Roche, 49, said: ” It is a huge event. For so many kids to compete for their country, it’s wonderful. All the Scottish guys we’ve (bumped into), it’s been like home.”
Mr Gahan, 45, said: “It’s really friendly. There’s clubs from all over Ireland here.”
Athlete and instructor Garry Lucas travelled to Dundee from Liverpool for the event with daughters Hannah, 16, and Mia, 14.
The 53-year-old, of Shukokai Karate Union (SKU) said: “I started karate around about 12 years ago. It’s something that we’ve made a family thing really.
“It’s fantastic, there’s been a lot of effort put into it. I was impressed with the city. We all have impressions of small cities outside of the big main cities, it’s a nice little city.”
Coach and competitor Tyrone Jeffers of the Caribbean Karate Federation in East London travelled north with nine students.
He said: “It’s a great venue. This is a very big event. The Caribbean Karate Federation is a great squad, we’ve got some great children from seven years upwards. At an event like this, it’s brilliant.”
The championship’s official opening ceremony will be held on Friday evening.