“The K is on the Way”: An Exclusive Interview with the President of WKF on Karate’s Controversial Road to the Olympics 2020 (pt. 1)
Last week I posted an interesting question on my facebook page.
QUESTION: What is YOUR biggest concern/fear, if Karate should become an Olympic sport one day?
Truth be told, I felt a little bad in asking this question, because it was something of a trick question.
I already knew the answer.
It was just a t-e-s-t.
And the results naturally confirmed my beliefs (see them for yourself).
Because here’s the deal: The human brain is wired to always look for negative information. This is in our very biological nature, and there is little we can do about it. The amygdala is a place in our brain known as “the danger center” (remember my post on Karate and the evolution of the “lizard brain”?) and all of our primary senses are routed through it before they get to the cerebral cortex (where our higher intelligence basically sits). And no, I’m no scientist, but at least I know this much.
So, when our cavemen ancestors heard a rustle in the branches, they instinctively thought “tiger”.
Which is why there’s a popular saying in media and news these days; “if it bleeds it leads”. Disasters? Pandemics? Terrorist attacks? Instant headline material.
We know this.
Because our biology has remained remarkably unchanged for the past 2.5 million years. We want to stay alive. We shun danger. We are hard-wired for living safely, in optimum control over our environment.
So when it suddenly comes to “change”, the facts are absolutely clear.
Change, evolution and development brings about fear in humans.
But, contrary to popular belief, it is not actually change itself we fear. Fear is only projected at it.
What we really fear is control.
More specifically, loss of control.
Because, historically, control is what keeps us alive.
- Why do we fear the unknown?
- Why do we fear the dark?
- Why do we fear deep water?
- Why do we fear being trapped?
- Why do we fear the future?
I’ll tell you why:
Because we can’t control any of those states.
It is not in our DNA. We were never created that way. Unlike cats, sharks and magicians, we weren’t blessed with some of those impressive skills by Mother Nature.
We got a thumb instead.
And a host of other cool skills, like the ability to jump around in a white pajama, punching, kicking and shouting in pseudo-Japanese at imaginary opponents.
(We generally call that Karate)
Anyways, bad jokes aside, that inability to remain in control – that nagging feeling of uncertainty – is the worst feeling most human beings can possibly imagine (which, of course, is why the ultimate aim of any sensible martial art is controlling one’s health by controlling the opponent; through the means of kicks, punches, strangulations, joint-locks, takedown, pins etc.).
So, when somebody suddenly comes along, saying that YOUR Karate will become another Karate, a new Karate, an updated Karate, a Karate that you cannot identify with; you feel out of control.
And you freak out.
Because here’s what’s happening in the Karate world right now:
A team of highly passionate Karate enthusiasts all over the world are, in this instant, campaigning for Karate to become the next official Olympic sport – through a global project known as “The K is on the Way” or “KARATE 2020″ (that’s the year when Karate will hopefully have become an Olympic sport.).
Karate is to become an OLYMPIC sport.
The gears for this highly ambitious project have been set in motion by the WKF (World Karate Federation), the #1 officially recognized Karate governing body by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), who have been relentlessly working toward this goal for many, many, years now… but never in such a public crowdsourcing type of way as “The K is on the Way”, which just kicked off quite recently (more specifically; during the 47th WKF European Senior Karate Championships this May in Spain. Look closely at the background in any of my videos from the event and you’ll see loads of “The K is on the Way” banners).
Folks, this is it.
Powerful people are campaigning for Karate to become the next Olympic sport, and this project is growing like crazy.
Karate has tried so many times to become an Olympic sport before, and now, finally, a super team of amazing people have been recruited to make it happen by spreading public Olympic Karate awareness through this new international “The K is on the Way” project.
It really is.
I love the idea, and surely the rest of the Karate world does too… right?
If it wasn’t for the fact that 9 traditional Karate people out of 10 are shit-scared of Karate becoming an Olympic sport.
(Proof of this can conveniently enough be experienced in about five seconds; just scroll through any Karate forum, website or blog where the natural defense mechanism against this virtual ‘threat’ is expressed in the forms of anger, frustration, despair and/or hopelessness.)
But here’s the thing:
If you are to call yourself an authentic Karate Nerd™ to the core, you gotta learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Because, as I’ve told you a hundred times throughout this site, the diversity of Karate is what will ultimately become its strength - provided you harness the innate power in this statement (read more, and see what World Champion Antonio Diaz thinks about this idea, in this post: The Karate Nerd Manifesto). Yes, this idea is scary, I know. I felt the same for a long time.
But as the saying goes, man can never discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore for a while.
Question: Do you consider yourself a traditional Karate-ka?
I bet you do.
Because the truth of the matter is, if Karate is to ever advance successfully thoughout the world in the best fashion possible, all sides of Karate need to be equally emphasized (remember One Karate to Rule ‘Em All?). All faces of Karate must be seen and equally promoted. Hence, in order to achieve this ambitious goal, everyone must contribute. No matter who you are.
Sadly, however, most “traditional” Karate-ka choose to unknowingly embrace the status quo by sitting on the sideline of fear and doubt, unable to contribute to a Karate world in need of their brilliance!
Go ahead, read that paragraph again. I’ll wait.
Then read this:
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
The fact is; Karate is spreading, and it will keep spreading. It will, if dreams come true, even become an Olympic sport. But, as often is the case, one person’s dream might be another person’s nightmare.
Unless you learn the truth.
So here’s what I did:
I went straight for the truth.
Like, totally straight. Like a ruler.
Using my ever-present cyber ninja skills of persuasion, a few virtual roundhouse kicks and some irresistible carrot cake bribes; I’ve actually managed to get a hold of the president of the WKF himself.
You’d better believe it.
The Big Boss.
Mr. Antonio Espinós.
Now, this was no easy task, believe me. Running the #1 Karate organization in the world is certainly no child’s play, not even for Mr. Espinós (who’s was re-elected as WKF president for his third 6-year period just last year), which means he’s got a helluva lot more to do than speaking to unreasonably handsome Karate bloggers such as myself.
But… he did it.
I got him, people!
(Honestly though, it was nothing compared to assembling some of Japan and Okinawa’s last original Karate grandmasters in my best-selling book The Karate Code! But that’s another story)
To once and for all go to the bottom of this whole Karate/Olympics thing, the “KARATE 2020/The K is on the Way” project, and related topics on Sport Karate vs. Traditional Karate, I want to hereby present my super exclusive interview with the president of the World Karate Federation himself, Mr. Antonio Espinós, who took some of his precious time off to help me make this happen for you guys.
(Like my good friend Lucio Maurino would have said, “amazingly!”)
Well… are you ready then?
Like, really, really, ready?
Stay tuned for part two…
The truth is coming.