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"Training and improving is a never ending process in karate"

Rita Pivoriunaite
Lithuanian karateka Rita Pivoriunaite by the age of 30 won 6 European Championships and took 3rd place at the World Championships. She participates in the TV show "Together with the dolphins" and "Dancing with the Stars" and is educated at the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology in Switzerland. She told about her achievements, training and studies in an interview with APPKANKU.
In Kyokushin, you brought an older brother. What interested you in the first place? Why did you decide to stay?
— I was a little sister who always followed her older brother and karate was not an exception. I came to one training, watched it and after asked the coach if I can join and train together next time :) I was six or seven years old and I am not sure if I really understood if I like the sport or I just enjoy the fact that I do the same activity as my brother. There were many things that encouraged me to stay in karate - passion for this sport, friends, coach, improvement, results and many others.
Tell about your first coach.
— I am very happy that I have always had the best coach - Paulius Klapatauskas. I can call us the best team - we worked very hard to reach all results. We have always had clear goals but enjoyed the process as well.
Kyokushin coach Paulius Klapatauskas
Do you remember your first fight in Kyokushin? How did it go? What emotions does a girl experience on tatami?
— Honestly, I can't remember my first fight. I started competing when I was 10 years old and at that time we didn't have many girls in karate world, such huge children tournaments and big draws in each children category as we have now. What I remember very well from children competitions - body protections that I didn't like at all and competing in heavy weight category which I changed to light weight just after starting competing in juniors' tournaments.
Was there a moment in your career when you wanted to leave Kyokushin?
— I guess many teenagers face this at some point, however, if I had this wish, it lasted not more than a month :) If you really love kyokushin, you are in this sport forever :)
How did you get your black belt? What are the feelings: are you at the top of the road or are things just beginning?
— We have a rule in Lithuanian kyokushin karate federation that examination for black belt can be taken when the athlete is not younger than 18 years old. So I got my black belt exactly at that age. It was a very tough and long examination and a day with lots of excitement at the end of it. However, getting higher belts was never my goal, I was always much more concentrated on training process, improvement, competitions and results. Training and improving is a never ending process in karate path while belts is just one small part out of many.
What is your workout routine? What is the most difficult part of learning?
— During preparation periods I was always having 9-11 workouts a week. I was never a fighter who worked too much on strength. My coach and me worked a lot on tactics, distance, moving, feeling the opponent. Running, pad trainings, bags, fighting workouts were the key ones as well. I was also involving Boxing and Muay Thai trainings and this was a very important part too. What was most difficult? Karate is not an easy sport in general, however, it is very important to enjoy the process.
Do you have any mascot?
— Honestly, I have never had any. I strongly believe that it is important to trust yourself, not some mascot :)
What is the greatest achievement in your career? And the biggest disappointment?
— I remember very well 2010 European championship in Spain where I managed to win 2 gold medals - became European champion both in kumite and kata. Biggest disappointments? Better to forget them as soon as possible :)
Kyokushin World Union Belgrade 2016
What is Kyokushin for you?
— I am in Kyokushin world almost all my life. I can call it life, idea, second family. For sure it is much more than just a sport.
Do you have something so special that it helped to succeed? Any character trait?
— I strongly believe that hard work is one of the most important component of success. I cannot imagine it without coach and huge motivation to reach the goals as well.
How has the level of Kyokushin in Lithuania changed while you are doing it?
— We have always had a very strong Kyokushin school in Lithuania and some world level fighters. I was lucky to grow together with our federation, to see how our sport became one of the most popular sports in Lithuania with huge competition and very high level athletes.
What do children in Lithuania choose now: basketball or martial arts?
— Basketball is still the most popular sport in our country, "second religion" status is still existing :) However, martial arts are very popular as well. The most important thing is to encourage children to be active and do the sports they enjoy.
For whom do you think Kyokushin? For children, women, adults?
— Kyokushin is really special because it is for everyone, it has no limits and anyone can start it at anytime. It fits for children and adults who want to do sport for being fit and for those who want to reach results and compete as well.
Kyokushin camp
You make the site girlkarate.com. This is a site about karate on behalf of the girl? For girls?
— It is for everyone from those who live karate lifes. Few girls joined me and share their experiences as well. Girlkarate.com is not only about karate. Many people have wrong stereotypes about athletes - those who are not in sports very often think that sports people are narrow minded, don't have other goals and activities except trainings. I don't want to prove anything, I just want to show the reality for those who want to see it and to present karate in the way everyone understands :)
What do you answer when someone says that karate isn't a female sport?
— It is a very common question and I can understand people who ask it because of some stereotypes that exist about female fighters. What I answer? I never try to prove anything. I always encourage women who ask this question to try karate and men to look how pretty karate fighters really are :) Karate is for everyone.
Give advice, what is it worth to be ready for a newcomer who just decided to do Kyokushin?
— Firstly, don't change your mind and start :) Secondly, enjoy the process and take everything from every single training!
What are the goals and challenges facing you now?
— Last year is very interesting and different - I moved to Switzerland. I was always sure that after finishing my career as a fighter I will want to stay in sports world. I have masters in banking, however, AISTS Sports administration studies in Lausanne was a good choice for me. So I will do my best to stay in sports world and to continue being a part of kyokushin family as well :)
Do you see yourself as a coach in the future?
— I will answer from a different angle - I can't imagine disappearing from Kyokushin world. However, at the moment I have different goals.
Short questions:
What is the point of defeat?
In my case it was usually stamina and a long fight was an advantage for me :)
Kyokushin taught me ...
Kyokushin taught me hard work.
The best place on Earth?
Anywhere where family and friends are.
It seems to me that Kyokushin in 10 years ...
It seems to me that Kyokushin in 10 years will continue to grow.
We thank Rita for interesting answers and wishes her success in sports, studies and personal life. Follow us, subscribe and wait for new interviews with interesting people from the Kyokushin world. OSU!
Photo: Courtesy of Rita Pivoriunaite