Rika Usami was born in Japan and she is known worldwide for her excellent kata. During the 2012 World Karate Championship in Paris she performed the Kata Chatanyara Kushanku in front of more than 12,000 people and received a standing ovation that lasted more than 5 minutes.
After having seen a “cool female fighter on TV”, 10 year old Rika followed her brother to a local dojo near their home in Toyko and began training in Goju-ryu karate. She would eventually train with Yoshimi Inoue.
As a 12 year old Green Belt, Rika began competing in very small tournaments, but it wasn’t until she was 15 that she began to compete in larger tournaments, and she was 17 years old when she won her first big tournament, the Junior World Championship. Riki would eventually participate in numerous very large competitions becoming a world champion over and over again.
Rika Usami received gold medals from the Japanese National Championships, Asian Championships, WKF World Karate Championships, Istanbul Open, Jakarta Open, Dutch Open, Paris Open, Salzburg Open and from numerous other international tournaments.
Rika Usami was trained under Yoshimi Inoue who is considered to be the “Trainer of Champions” and he spent a great deal of individual time in Rita’s personal training, making sure she understood every technique and that she was mentally, spiritually and especially physically strong as strength and conditioning is vital to performing strong kata. He also taught her to be very mentally focused during training and to carry this focus into competitions so that competing became as normal as training.
Known as the Karate Kata Queen, Rika is not as well known for her fighting skills, however she can and does practice kumite (fighting). She understands that kata is fighting without an opponent in front of you and kumite is simply using the techniques from the kata against an therefore having an actual opponent helps you to better conceptualize the fight in the kata.
After retiring from competition Rika Usami planned to attend Kokushinkan University and become an instructor for the Karate club at Kokushinkan University. However, after Yoshimi Inoue passed away on May 1, 2015 she and two other World Champions, Mie Nakayama, also from Japan, and Antonio Diaz from Venezuela, traveled around the world promoting Inoue-Ha Shito Ryu Karate in honor of her sensei.
Rika Usami Kata Competition Honors:
1st Place – WKF Junior World Championship (2005) Limassol, Greece
1st Place – All-Japan National Championship (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
3rd Place – WKF World Championship (2010) Belgrade, Serbia
1st Place – Paris Open (2011)
1st Place – Asian Games (2011) Quanzhou, China
1st Place – Salzburg Open (2011)
1st Place – Paris Open (2012)
1st Place – Dordrecht Open (2012)
1st Place – Jakarta Open (2012)
1st Place – Istanbul Open (2012)
1st Place – World Championship (2012) Paris, France