– The Paris Open is really a good test to start this new season. And the fact that there are so many athletes, like the japanese, it rises the level. And it’s a good preparation for what’s coming. The Olympics are coming very fast. So I think that everybody works more and we can really feel it. – Yes, I think that the Paris Open is a very good test. My coach always told me that the Paris Open was the best tournament he’s ever seen, for the atmosphere and all that happens here. – I think that it’s the favourite Premier League of almost everybody. Even for the foreigners. The Paris Open is THE Paris Open since always. Well, they all are important but I always prefer to fight at home. – For me, it’s a tournament harder than a World Championship because all the best athletes are here and nobody wants to miss it. Each point is important so each athlete works harder to score those points. – We have 64 places per category, kata or kumite, and all the places are taken. It means that there’s a strong interest for the Olympic qualification and everybody is here. – Before, the most important tournament was the World Championships but now i think that people have another goal : The Olympics. And that Olympic dream, i think, gave to people a boost in motivation, trainings. I think that the countries are now investing much more on Karate. They have much more means, people train much more, they have more resources, they take part in many more competitions. Globally, I think that there has been a significant rise of the level. – The World Karate is going well. The level has risen. Because since the Olympics announcement, everybody is working in a more scientific way. Before, we only practiced Karate before the competitions. But now, there’s not just Karate. There’s also physical condition, strength, power, stamina. It brings a lot. – The Asian level is growing and it’s the same for the International level. Until now, some countries were not that strong but they improved a lot by recruiting foreign coaches. – More and more, the Karate level is getting higher, i think. Athletes from other countries will become stronger. And I will be stronger too ! – There are no easy fights anymore. No small countries anymore. You really have to face each fight, from the first round to the last, draft or not, like a Final. – On each fight, now it’s not just about going to the Final. It’s really about getting points with the fights and now it’s really about entering each Open like a major competition. As if it were a World Championship or a European Championship. Because we feel that the level is different, the motivation is different and we also feel that the stake is different. – I think that today the World Karate has never been so strong because now all the countries are strong and they all want to be qualified. So you have to rise your level and present really good katas all the time. There’s no place for easy katas anymore. And in kumite you always have to be focused and you can’t say that this fight will be easy. You always have to be careful. What has changed since the Olympic ranking started, it’s overall in kata with the points evaluation. Now you don’t have the flags nor face an opponent. It’s a group system where everybody passes one after the other and has a global note. And the first four can go to the next round. That’s a very big change for the strategy, for the mental. It’s not the same pressure. It’s not one against another anymore. It’s really yourself alone with your kata. – I think that the audience in France is an audience that likes a lot Karate, that loves Karate. That supports it a lot. You only have to witness when a french karateka enters the tatami, how everybody cheers and supports. It makes me think of a football game. Like the 12th player. Here it’s the same. I think that if you find yourself a bit short with the fist, the public cheers help you to score that point. – We like the passion here. We like the Coubertin Arena and overall we like the audience. We can feel during the Finals, the 3rd places and even now, that wasn’t before, during the first rounds, that everybody cheers and it really brings something more. – For the Olympic Games, it’s 80 karatekas for the entire world. It’s very tight. If we compare, Taekwondo has 160 athletes. Judo 320 athletes. So Karate, we are at the very start with 80 athletes. So it’s very hard. – I’m sad to notice that even if Karate has become Olympic, it will have so few athletes comparing to other combat sports which will have like 30 athletes per category. We will only have 10 athletes per category and 2 categories have been merged. – But it’s a start, a first step. But what’s sure it’s that Karate will be very well represented in the Olympics because of that very hard qualification system. – I trust the fact that we’ll get noticed in Tokyo. That we’ll be an attractive sport and pleasant for people.