Japan and hosts Spain underlined their dominance of the kata discipline at this year's Karate World Championships as they qualified for the men's and women's finals here today.
The two countries will now battle it out for all four kata titles when gold medal bouts take place here on Saturday (November 10) and Sunday (November 11).
The Japanese men, led by two-time world champion Ryo Kiyuna and also including Arata Kinjo and Takuya Uemura, progressed to the final without dropping a point.
They claimed 5-0 victories in each of their pool contests before they defeated Italy by the same scoreline in the semi-final following an energetic and exuberant kata display.
Victory for Japan ensures Kiyuna, who will take on Spaniard Damian Quintero in the individual final, has the chance to defend his two world titles.
Spain also looked in good shape during the early rounds of the men's competition but were made to work hard for their place in the final, narrowly overcoming Turkey 3-2 in the last four.
In the women's tournament, Spain proved far too strong for their Italian opponents as they sealed a spot in the gold medal encounter with a convincing 5-0 win.
The result was met with wild scenes of celebrations from the Spanish trio, comprised of Marta García, Lidia Rodríguez and Raquel Roy, as they shared a warm embrace with their male team-mates.
"We have had such an outstanding support today," said Sergio Galan, joined on the men's squad by José Manuel Carbonell and Francisco Salazar.
"I have never felt something like this before.
"Now we just want to give our best in the final."
Japan, whose team featured Saori Ishibashi, Mai Mugiyama and Sae Taira, qualified for the final with a 4-1 success against Turkey.
Spain will be aiming to break the Japanese stranglehold of the kata events at the World Championships when the finals are held this weekend.
Japan won all four gold medals in the discipline in Linz in 2016 and are favourites to repeat the feat in the Spanish capital.
Today also saw the start of the Para-karate competition, the fourth time it has featured at the World Championships, as 100 athletes from 33 countries competed across the visually impaired, intellectually impaired and wheelchair events.
In the men's visually impaired final, Azerbaijan’s Sahib Ahadov will face Japan’s Yasushi Oba, while Brazil’s Deborah Knihs and Germany’s Helga Balkie clash in the women's gold medal bout.
Patricia Wright of Canada and Salma Alaaeldin Ebrahim of Egypt will contest the women's intellectually impaired final.
The men's wheelchair gold medal encounter will be an all-Egyptian affair as Abdelaziz Abouelnaga faces Mohamed Allakany.
Isabel Fernandez Jimenez of Spain and Marina Kulikova of Russia are the finalists in the women's wheelchair event.
Action here continues tomorrow with the kumite team elimination round.