“The K is on the Way”: An Exclusive Interview with the President of WKF – Karate’s Controversial Road to the Olympics 2020 (pt. 2)

Note: This is part two of my exploration into Karate and the Olympics; interviewing the president of the WKF (World Karate Federation), talking about the “Karate 2020/The K is on the Way” project and more. Check out part 1 if you missed it!

All right, so here we are.

The time has come.

After briefly covering my own reflections on Sport Karate, Traditional Karate and everything in between (in part one) – dishing out some of my semi-philosophical Karate rants that you love or hate – the time has finally come for me to step aside for the grand finale of what you’ve all been waiting for.

The Big Bang.

With the Big Boss.

Mr. Antonio Espinós.

Without further ado, let me hereby present you with the coup de grâce on this two-part article series on Karate and the Olympics, featuring Mr. Antonio Espinós – president of the World Karate Federation (WKF).

Again, making this interview happen was no easy decision, since topics like these can be quite delicate as they are prone to misinterpretation by people with a differing political agenda. Therefore, as a disclaimer, may I remind you that all my own commentary is solely my own and not representative of the WKF, IOC or any other governing body/organization. Truth be told, some questions even had to be cut out of the interview for fear of legal repercussions, so please apply some of that good ol’ common sense when enjoying the following interview… and try to visualize the bigger picture we’re painting, okay?

Sounds cool?


Let’s go:

J (Jesse): First of all, Mr. Espinós, could you very quickly sum up the “KARATE 2020/The K is on the Way” campaign (for people who don’t know about it)?

AE (Antonio Espinós): “Well, obviously, the “K” identifies Karate with one strong letter. This is simple and absolutely international. The “Way” is then intended as a symbol: Every way has a beginning (our strong roots and origins), a course (the hard work done by the whole Karate family to improve this unique, different and universal discipline) and a final destination: the Olympic Games Program.”

J: Sounds like a plan! Tell me, who are the main people responsible for launching/maintaining this global campaign? And what is the main objective really about?

Mr. Espinós in action.

AE: “WKF and its partners prepared and launched this campaign. We’ll be running main actions, website and social media. But it is now up to National Federations and Karate enthusiasts like yourself to spread the message and reach as many more people as we can. Lots of Karate events worldwide have already been “K” events and more will be in the next months.

The main objective is letting the World know that we are seeking the inclusion into the Olympic Games program, hence improving Karate’s visibility worldwide. But we also wanted to give the opportunity to the global Karate family to be even more united by joining us in the bid.”

J: A noble goal, I think. Looking back though, historically, how has the relationship evolved between Karate and the Olympics?

AE: “It has been more than fourteen years now since the IOC recognized WKF. Karate is actually already an Olympic Sport. We now make our third bid in a row to be included in the Olympic Games Program which is the next step. We’ve been very close to achieve this in former bids. This means that there is a strong relationship between Karate and the Olympic Movement. We listened and learnt many positive things from them and this has helped us reach a state-of-the-art level in many aspects.”

J: So, how is the “KARATE 2020/The K is on the Way” campaign important for the average Karate practitioner? Will it not just benefit elite competitors and national teams?

AE: “Well, first of all, as we said before: Since this is a global campaign, there is therefore an opportunity to unite all our people and stakeholders worldwide. Second is the aim of the campaign: The potential benefits of being included in the Olympic Games Program are what make this campaign so important for the Karate world. Third is the opportunity to bring media exposure to a global leading sport. Karate is one of the most important disciplines in the World, with more than 100 million practitioners in total. It is different, unique and universal but remains quite unknown for many people! This campaign should let the World know what Karate really is: a global leading sport.”

J: But practically speaking, how will the average Karate practitioner benefit if Karate actually becomes an Olympic Sport?

AE: “It is safe to say that the material resources available for Karate development will increase significantly the day that Karate becomes a sport in the Program. Today, in the majority of the countries, and especially in underdeveloped countries, or countries under development, only Olympic sports can become institutionally funded. Thus, an Olympic Karate would use this additional funding to accelerate the social benefits derived from Karate practice.”

J: That is huge.

AE: “There are many other potential benefits within this inclusion in the Olympic Program too. For instance, we could speak about structures, incomes, visibility etc. But the most important matter for Karate practitioners may be the actual recognition. Karate practitioners worldwide really deserve to see their discipline included in the pinnacle of sport events. Above all this, we are one of the sports with the highest young practitioners’ ratio; youth comprises 65% of karate practitioners! We must offer these young Karate-kas the possibility to be Olympic one day.”

J: I definitely see what you mean. With modern martial arts like MMA quickly climbing past Karate on the popularity ladder, we have a responsibility towards keeping the flame of our art lit. But still, many traditional people think Karate will become reduced to pure “showmanship” or “flashy acrobatics” if it becomes an Olympic sport! What is your take on this matter, and why?

AE: “Karate is so popular worldwide precisely because it has developed and spread as a sport. The martial art side of Karate has in this way benefited greatly from the sport, and it would be an activity hardly as popular if it would have been limited to the martial art aspect alone. In this way, the sport has enormously contributed to the spread of Karate – including those who want have the possibility to focus only on the practical martial art aspects.

The WKF has always tried to keep the principles of respect, rigor and other features that are promoted by the traditional martial art side intact. It is up to us to maintain, and if possible even enhance, these principles. In the WKF we do not see that the Olympic Games should bring any negative connotations in this matter.

The Olympic Games are the greatest sport event in the World. No question about it. It is a serious competition at the highest level, not some kind of special “show”. There is no need to change or adapt the rules to be part of this competition. Actually, the WKF proposal to the IOC is based on our own, current, competition format. Karate is already a spectacular enough sport, and its roots are strong enough. This will not be a concern at all.

In fact we would like to see the question “What is your biggest hope or dream about Karate in the Olympic Games?” asked to Karate world, instead of the regular “What is your biggest concern?”.”

J. That is very true. But, like I explain to my readers [see part 1], humans have always been afraid of change, often clinging to negativity purely by default. So do you truly believe that the “Budo Spirit” can be rightfully conveyed through sports and the Olympics? How, exactly?

AE: “Sports and the Olympics are the best way to convey Budo Spirit! And Karate is really the highest ambassador of this and other values.

Of course, this is also about what Karate can bring to the Games, not only what the Games can bring to Karate. The real fighting spirit; as well as fairness, humility, respect, integration and overcoming difficulties are some of our most treasured inner values. We shall dutifully bring these to the Games as part of the original essence of Karate.”

J: And I sincerely look forward to seeing that unfold. However, as we all know, Karate is a (dangerous) martial art, not originally designed for sporting purposes. So, coming from that angle, what are the main obstacles you see in trying to make it a (safe) martial sport?

AE: “Well, we all know that part of the public will always see Karate as just simple violence. But we also know that Karate competition is about control. And Sport Karate is already a very safe martial sport! In fact, a lot of work has been done in this aspect, and we are quite happy about it. Now it is time to change minds at this respect, and the Olympic Games will help us to do so.”

J. How do you think the Olympics (and “KARATE 2020/The K is on the Way” campaign) will ultimately influence the relationships between Sport Karate and Traditional Karate?

AE: “The campaign slogan is “Karate 2020”, we are not trying to take just a small part of Karate to the Olympic Games, but the whole Karate – with its complete values and roots. Once again, these roots are strong enough; they are part of a modern and spectacular competition form already. The “Way” is intended as a symbol of all this!

J: Right. So what does the near/far future look like for Karate as a whole, if “KARATE 2020/The K is on the Way” campaign succeeds with this mission?

AE: “Being recognized as a global leading sport, giving the World the opportunity to discover what Karate really is, giving the opportunity to young Karate-kas to dream with Olympic gold. That’s our vision of a brilliant future… don’t you agree?”

J: Sure, as long as those values are actually maintained, promoted and (correctly) applied – I see a brilliant future indeed. A great challenge too! Any last thoughts, ideas or comments for my readers?

AE: “Jesse, this is a long term campaign and each and every supporter counts. This is not only a WKF campaign. Every practitioner and Karate fan around the world should feel as its his/her own. In the end, I believe Karate will be in the Games, because Karate deserves the Games.”

J: Thank you very much for your time.


All right. That was the interview.

Now here’s the lesson:

For all Karate-ka:

No matter what way of Karate you are following – Fitness Karate, Traditional Karate, Sport Karate, Self-Defense Karate, Okinawan Karate or any other preference – we are all one.


And no matter what goal you have with your highly personal journey in Karate – whether it’s improving self-esteem, gaining confidence, losing weight, becoming a champion or learning practical self-defense – I sincerely believe that there are two incredibly important guidelines that you need to adhere to:

  1. Always remember the real, original, purpose of Karate. If you keep this in mind, you will never forget where you come from. Karate, a once highly obscure /secretive form of indigenous civil self-defense hailing from Okinawa and the Ryukyu archipelago has now become a world-wide phenomenon. With that comes a responsibility to honor and acknowledge both its origins and its original purpose. Our link to the past is our bridge to the future.
  2. Never pretend your chosen way of Karate is better than anyone else’s chosen way of Karate. Sure, it might be better for you, personally, at this very moment in your life, but if you can’t remain tolerant in letting people carve their own path through this remarkable maze of Karate – then you are bound to be forever fighting an uphill battle against the rest of the Karate community, solely based on your own lack of respect and tolerance. Just because somebody else has a greater passion than you for a different apect of Karate, doesn’t give you the right to judge them in any way. Their way is not your way, and nothing says it should be. However, with that being said, we must never permit tolerance to degenerate into indifference.

The bottom line is, no matter what you think Karate is, or should be, you need to care.

Care about the small stuff as well as the bigger picture.

Because caring is what ultimately allows us to remain in control over our future.

The minute we lose control, the minute we stop caring for the destiny of Karate, we are no longer taking part in the amazing development of Karate that is taking place in the world right now. You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining.

You make progress by implementing ideas.

And right now, Karate needs all the ideas we can provide. Especially from the traditionalists. Because all change is not growth; as all movement is not forward. It is up to us to steer the boat of Karate into the right direction, unless we want to hit those nasty rocks which we all fear.


It’s a responsi-frickin’-bility.

But one that I happily choose to be a part of.

I hope you do the same.

“The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”

– Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957)

The K is on the Way.

Are you?


  • Boban Alempijevic
    "You make progress by implementing ideas. And right now, Karate needs all the ideas we can provide. Especially from the traditionalists. Because all change is not growth; as all movement is not forward. It is up to us to steer the boat of Karate into the right direction, unless we want to hit those nasty rocks which we all fear." Best part of the whole article, so true so true. This is also my biggest fear, that there will be to many forgetting that all change is not good and all change will not take us forward. That fear is not pointed towards the Olympic part itself but how McDojos might pop up like mushrooms and diluting peoples image of what karate is all about. It also means that it is all more important that strong good Dojos start making them selves heard over the McDojo's, start making there input heard and there views heard. Only by working as one can a community truly change in a positive way and move forward... unfortunately I am a pessimist and still think that there will pop up to many bad apples, hopefully they will not dilute the image of what Karate is to badly. On the whole, the thought of taking Karate to the Olympics is a noble one, hopefully it will work out :)
    • Glad to see you express your thoughts Boban-san, keep keepin' it real ;)
      • boban alempijevic
        I can only but try :)
  • Alexander Pagot
    Great interview! And Jesse do U know if, if karate would become an olympic sport ( a part of the program) would it include both kata and kumite?
    • Hey Alex-san! Hopefully both, but their paths would be different: I believe the official bid is for kumite, kata is going in through the 'back door' by the Paralymics. Long story, but that's the gist of it. :)
      • Alexander Pagot
        Okay, Thanks for the answer, and i hope so 2. :D
  • Andreas Quast
    You gave me the shivers :) way cool!
    • That's what I do! ;)
  • Nice interview Jesse. Thanks for all the hard work! What about the kata question though?
  • Raddon
    While I think that a unified attitude amongst all karatekas is in some ways ovbiously a wonderful idea, I think it's also paradoxically the one thing that trying for will ultimately prevent it from happening. Expecting people who enjoy karate as a sport and those who enjoy it as something else to see it all as one thing would be like expecting footballers and rugby players to treat the differences in their sport as purely preferential and not indicative of the distinctly separate disciplines they demonstrably are. Modern sport karate has so little in common with original traditional karate that I can't help wondering if applying a different label to it would actually be more beneficial than expecting everyone to come together. As strange as it may sound, I do think that calling it all 'karate' risks confusing people at best and aggressively dividing them at worst. If you've got one lot of people in starched gi's practicing bunkai and close-range goju-style kumite, and another lot in tracksuits & mitts bouncing back and forth drilling long-range lunging gyaku-zukis and high spinning kicks, then maybe a clear division that acknowledges the obvious difference in styles is in the best interest of all. That way, everyone can do what they do without worrying that the label under which they practice is being bismirched by others.
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Well, the point is that what you might think being "original traditional karate" isn't that "original" or "traditional" either if you compare it with the todi from the 19th century. So isn't a starched white gi. Todays "traditional karate" is the past's "sports karate". So if you want anything coming close to "original" then you've got to do much research on the origins – you might come close, but you won't get the original. It still will differ from it – certainly even a lot! Like modern sports karate does in its own fashion. But both share the same roots. And because both differ from the original it's the roots which are important, so what you call "sports karate" or "traditional karate" can only be the beginning of a journey. You can start "traditional" and make a sports career. You can start "sports karate" and end up tracing karate back to the chinese origins. You can start with one, go on for the next and ending up somewhere else – it's in your hands. "Traditional" or sports are just the "vessels" for your journey, not the journey itself...
      • "Is there an echo in here?" - Great insights, my friend. :)
        • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
          An echo? I guess so! It must be the "bad" influence that you've got on me... ;)
  • Julia
    I love the idea of Karate being in the Olympics, yet a couple of things mentioned in this interview disturb me. I strongly dislike the idea of kata taking the "back door"; without the kata I feel like WKF competition is mere sport. Kata provides the structure, zanshin, and body awareness that all great martial artists must master, while kumite is becoming more and more a form of kick boxing. I'm sure everyone here can understand what I mean-waiting three minutes into a match to throw a technique, looking at the judge in the middle of a technique to attempt to draw a point, turning away from the opponent after one thinks that one's scored. My second issue has to do with the protective gear that the WKF requires. The WKF thinks that they have the "contact issue" under control, but this has not been the case in my experience. Putting more and more gear on people does not solve the issue, it simply encourages people to hit harder. It started out with shin guards, then head gear, now a huge piece of Styrofoam in the middle of your stomach. When your opponent is wearing protective gear, you feel more comfortable hitting him with little or no control, "because that's what the gear's for, duh.". When someone exercises control over a technique, they are practicing zanshin, learning how to stop the technique. When there is no control, kumite becomes nothing more than boxing or MMA. All in all, I'd love to have Karate in the Olympics, but I fear that competition karate will become, despite everyone's reassurances, nothing more than a sport.
    • Julia-san, I agree wholeheartedly on the protective equipment issue. The problem seems to lie in finding that line between "too much" and too little" protective equipment - with both extremes producing the same result in the end (injuries to the particiants). Although we cannot know the true reasoning behind the steadily increased need for protective equipment for sure, sometimes it seems to be more of an economical decision (WKF branded/homologated items, licensing fees etc), rather than safety decision. Pure speculation on my part, of course.
      • Boban Alempijevic
        Ippon-Shobu someone? :D That is my take on WKF protective gear, and I stand behind it 100%. Ippon-Shobu :D Unfortunately the IOC would most likely not like that idea at all :D
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Hi Julia, I think I strongly disagree with you on the things you mentioned: 1. "without the kata I feel like WKF competition is mere sport": That's actually the idea behind it! I also can't see how competing with kata (means: taking kata out of their original context as training exercise and technique textbook) would change this. This would actually come very close to what Matsumura meant when he wrote "they [kata] become like dances, useless in a real confrontation". Especially because many kata are explicitly trained for competition purposes (It's about the look!) or even changed for it – making kata shiai a mere dancing competition with simply different evaluation criteria. If you really want to practice karate as a martial art then kata shiai won't change it anyway! Practicing kata and furthermore putting it into the right context, understanding the applications and fighting principles, and finally training them, would. This would require you to put on your "Indy hat", forget about what people told you where to go and walk a different path that leads into unknown territories, traditionally marked with a "hic sunt dracones" by those who fear those places for various reasons... Good technique is defined by its application, not by training exercises you do alone. 2. I don't find kumite going more into the kickboxing direction being something scary. That could even be a positive change because it could make the sport more attractive and it's going back to the roots: Kickboxing was derived from 1950s/ 1960s karate for competition purposes (and for competing with muay thai fighters). Also there is kickboxing and kickboxing. If you mean (semi-contact) point fighting the it's actually the same, yes. But this is due to the fact that real contact is not allowed. Fight full contact and you'll see that what you describe isn't valid anymore. This means that the "sloppiness" and limitation of technique and tactics result out of the rule set and the prequisite of "not getting hit" (like in fencing or kendo). If you don't want that then you've got to change the rules accordingly. 3. The point of karate used to be "to hit harder" (when you really, really have to) – not to "not to hit that hard" or "not hit at all"! This is of course unwanted in a competition for most of the people because only few highly trained athletes have the constitution to take hard blows – and even then it's quite dangerous. So "not to get hit (that hard)" is a mass sports requirement. If protective gear can help in protecting the competitors' health then it should be used. I don't see any reason why not. (Well, unless people get padded like in a sumo suit.) If you don't want to get hit at all then you've got to live with the degradation of technique – this is a fact not only valid for sports karate but also for budo karate! It's only natural when movements lose their context... All of this nothing new anyway: http://www.karatekobudo.com/images/profiles/Grand%20Masters%20-%20Kobudo/ShinkenTaira3.jpg http://www.shitoryu.org/bios/mabuni/images/12kenwa.jpg "Likewise, in times past swordsmanship was taught only through kata since a shiai, whether using real swords or wooden swords, was always fought at the risk of one's life. Subsequently, today's face masks and wrist guards were developed, and although this brought about a certain amount of degradation of kendo, it allowed it to become that much closer to a sport [or workout exercise] rather than a martial art. With continuing research it is not unfeasible that as in judo or kendo our karate, too, might incorporate a grading system through the adaptation of protective gear and the banning of attacks to vital points. In fact, I believe that it is important to move in that direction." – Gichin Funakoshi, Karate Jitsu, 1922 And now guess what: The karate pioneers of the 1920s and 1930s did move in that direction! Today we can be happy about it. It was the way to spread it around the world. I for my part would say that I wouldn't have come in touch with karate without the sport. 4. I fail to see how the karate that is practiced as a mass sport is in any way "more" than boxing or MMA. I don't think it's more or less than boxing or – let's say: canoeing! The only thing that makes you think it's more is just the knowledge that it had been something else in the past. So it's only in your head. Simply strip it down: Take away ideology, the myths, the false assumptions and the mumbo jumbo – things that unfortunately are widespread – and it might even turn out less (commonly know as McDojo karate)! There are not many karate-ka around that are practicing or better reconstructing karate as a martial art and as a sad fact from my own experience: So far (in the last two decades) I've learned probably more about *karate* by people who were teaching other martial arts. – You also don't seem to realize that western boxing or – let's say for the similarities sake – savate once were real martial arts that were quite different to the sports we know today but turned into sports when they lost their purpose because times changed. To karate happened *exactly* the same in pretty much the same way! And so did it to fencing and kendo! It's also a bit like a elitist's preaching from the high horse to write something like "kumite becomes nothing more than boxing or MMA". I know some MMA fighters and kickboxers of quite some renown personally, and I have the highest respect for what they do! They know how to kick real ass – though it's definitely "only" sports. Something that most karate-ka of the 100 million fail to prove (Actually they don't have to prove anything, they can do what they please – I'm playing a bit the devil's advocate, I think...)
      • boban alempijevic
        "So far (in the last two decades) I've learned probably more about *karate* by people who were teaching other martial arts." Whoa mate, (Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo)you scare me there :) I mean, My dream of learning karate for life includes one single dream: Reach a certain level and then hunt for "My" karate through studying arts that in the far past influenced the original "Te" into becoming slowly towards what we now a days know as Karate. Only by reaching out to martial arts, and stop being so stuck on what Karate "truly" is, I believe I can some day find "My" karate and also grow as an martial artist. I guess change is what I am craving for, even though I still have my doubts about the Olympics :) Love to walk both roads I guess :D What Julia writes about, the protective gear, and what Jesse-san answers and also you mate, well, Protective gear is one of the "Small" reasons I do not compete, and never will, For me, it defeats the purpose of karate. Sure I can agree with the protection part and not hurting each others and all that stuff, but hey, When I spar with my karate buddies I expect a lot of bruising, in fact I enjoy that part, it tells me that I am alive. Call me weird, I hear it all the time, but when I finally managed to take a blow from a guy that weights about 20 more Kg then I do, with a Body fat ratio of frigin 1% ( muscles bulging), and speed of a friggin rocket, I felt proud of myself, even though it felt for three days in my abs :D But I did not buldge that day, I laughed :D Now tell me again why Protective gear? Ipon Shobun anyone? :P A bit of blood is not the end of the world :D PS! I dare you to react :D
        • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
          @Boban: It wasn't my intention to scare anyone. It's an experience I made and maybe I exaggerated a bit (No, actually not). Let me explain: Karate-ka tend to be very dogmatic, so chances are that a wrong technique or explanation will be passed on for the rest of all time. Also, one question you don't hear much is "Why?", even if some explanation contradicts the very basics of newtonian mechanics. It is considered rude to ask "why", whyever – it's a cultural thing. It's definitely rude to put someone in a bad light (but it wouldn't if there was a place to question things your teacher is teaching you). It's shut up and practice. It wouldn't matter much, if there wasn't so much erroneous stuff in karate that has been passed along. But people think "Well, that's "master" so-and-so, he's a so-and-so black belt. He knows it. He has to know it!". Buzzer! No, he does not nessessarily know it! He can only know what he learned and certainly he learned as described. There are some key concepts that seem to be sacred – I believed them myself, put much effort in perfecting it, until I realized that I was misled – there are people defend those with some ardent, quasi-religious zeal and if nothing helps: "In our style it's done like that." or "We don't do that in our style!" – end of discussion. Other martial arts are not as dogmatic. They are practical. Good is what works and what works has to be understood – like in science. Funakoshi wrote that karate would be the art of the wise man. Knowing why is the foundation for wisdom. Time for karate-ka to work on it. By cross-training and messing around with others, I learned more about the "whys" and "why nots" than with karate teachers. Kime? Counterproductive. Shouting like a maniac? Not needed (Funny that those, that insist that karate was a secret art practiced by rebel peasants, are the same that insist in loud kiai as being the second important thing after kime!). Hikite? Own technique on its own, not for power – unless you are pulling your opponent into your punch. More power? Not nessessarily needed. More power in "blocking"? Not needed and counterproductive. And so on. These things are only important in karate and derivatives (There are some teachers dare to question those things: One is Koss Yokota, another Mitsusuke Harada, for example). There are a lot of movements that I now know what they are really for, a lot of principles, etc., simply because fighting around the world doesn't differ much (I suggest Tai Chi Chuan – only effort in making no effort and is so strong without using blunt force). Well, at least not if you are fighting humans. So every personal karate (MyKarate(tm) :)) certainly has its justification – but if it's a complete fighting system (which is not only about personal preferences) then it won't differ much from other styles, leading to what Funakoshi has thought about there only being one single karate. On bruising and the like: I know sparring with some contact. I've also hurt myself. I've had several broken ribs, broken toes, lots of bruises on the shins. I've had 4 cm cut on the inside of my lower lip that needed several stitches. So, I know what you are talking about. It can be fun. On the other hand it's like destroying your body over time. And time is not very sympathetic with your body which gets older and older. That's not "wise" (to get back to this). So there must be something wrong at some point. Most karate-ka are hobbyists that train one to three hours a week. Most of them children. They are not professionals who make their living with fighting. Think about it!
          • boban alempijevic
            Whoa, this I call a LONG reply :) Mine will be way shorter since I clearly do not need to go into taking up Funakoshi quotes ( which I love to do since I love what he wrote about Karate and his look on it :D Might be since I am a Shotokan Karate-ka my self :D ) Now lets see where to start.. Ill start with the last part actually, the full contact during training. I am 33 at this time of writing, Been having several problems with my joints in several places before I made it a goal to fix those problems and have been managing to do so. I do feel the effects of hard contact training, luckily it does not happen every single training session, but I am sure you understood that anyhow :) In our Dojo, like most likely in MOST Dojos now a days, most members are kids and teenagers. Without knowing the exact numbers I would wager that a quarter is adults and rest minors. So yes, full contact or semi contact training is out of the question. I do enjoy such training though since it helps me to actually understand what I am capable of doing and it cements the technique and how they can be used in different ways, in a way I can not understand if I only shadow train them. Cross training, There is only one Karate, at least for me, I know that a LOT of Karate-kas choke on that sentence but hey, I don't care, for me to try out different "styles" is a way to actually understand Karate it self a bit better ( with the mandatory Critical eye on everything of course since one should never swallow everything taught to one no matter the belt level of the teacher!) Tai Chi Chuan, Have to check it out :D Last part, I did not mean it like you scared me, I ment it more like a compliment since It is exactly how I look at martial arts. To learn martial arts you have to open your eyes, and then open them once again. You learn from multiple sensei's, Sifu's and so on, you take in what they have to teach you, you use there knowledge and you melt that knowledge into something that works for you. If one is not critical though in the learning and at least asks one self's Why, then you will end up just swallowing everything without thinking and you will end up with martial arts that is not "yours" but a mish mash of other peoples thoughts on it. And ooh, I am not a pro, I am just about to try out for my Shodan, but I train every day, 9 times a week because I can not think of a life without martial arts. I go so far as to study the old texts of old masters, I ask my self why they choose to fight the way they did, what works, why does movements look the way they do and so on... Im not supposed to think about Bunkai at my level... heard taht few times during my time with martial arts :D load of crap, Bunkai is simple, Analyse what you do constantly and evolve by understanding how to use movements, that is a simple survival technique that anyone that has grown up in rough neighborhoods will be able to understand :D I still think though that the amount of protective gear that WKF ( And other organisations yess :D ) Are using for there Kumite fights are way overdoing it, gloves, sure, ankle and feet sure, mouthpiece, sure... any need for anything else? Naaah, not in my opinion :)
          • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
            Word, Boban. :)
      • Julia
        Hi there! Thanks for your reply, it gives me a lot to think about, yet I still disagree with you. 1. "Good technique is defined by its application, not by training exercises you do alone." If that is the case, why do we ever practice kata without Bunkai? Or even a straight reverse punch? It's highly unlikely that anyone will throw a typical Karate punch in a street fight, so why do we train something that is inapplicable? In some parts you are correct - kata is a training tool. Yet the kata itself can be something beautiful and powerful, and something that takes years to master. To properly transition between stances, to drive power with every technique, to flow from one movement to the next...being able to do these things takes extreme skill, and therefore should be encouraged by competition. 2. I feel that if Kumite becomes more like kickboxing, it will lose it's tradition as a strategy game. I understand that kickboxing has some element of strategy as well, yet it really translates down to, "Who can hit the hardest?" In Kumite, you have to create openings in your opponents, outwit them, chose the right technique for the right time and then execute it properly. In the direction WKF has been taking, it seems like Kumite has become a game of "Who has the fastest reverse punch?" and has lost many of the "chess game" aspects that it had in the past. 3. I agree with you wholeheartedly that one should not "water down" their punches or kicks, as it is bad for one's training. However, if one is in a competitive setting, it's perfectly possible to hit with full power without damaging the attacker at all. I can hit as hard as I can to someone's face, yet if I'm two centimeters away, I'm not only protecting them, I'm practicing my technique to it's full power as well. As my Shotokan buddies have told me many times, it's possible to transfer energy, indicating a destructive blow, without physically damaging the person. 4. You're right in the fact that Karate is seen by many as a over-hyped, mythological art, fueled by the "Masters" in the McDojos and Hollywood's increasingly ridiculous movies. Yet I think that putting only the WKF's current Kumite standard in the Olympics will only increase this viewpoint. The WKF has turned competition into a show, which would be fine if the competition had the same amount of form and Budo spirit that it should. Unfortunately, it doesn't. I compete, and I enjoy competition, yet I have been increasing disgusted with the way that some of the competitors are acting.
        • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
          Hi again! (Sorry Boban, ladies' first!) 1. I never put kata in question. So didn't I question kata shiai. I also haven't said that kata can't be beautiful or strong. I put your assumption in question that there is a conditional connection between kumite shiai, kata shiai and good martial art technique. For being good at point fighting you don't nessessarily need kata at all. It's a different set of techniques and it's a different skill. It can help, of course. So can other training methods which could be even more effective! Being good at kata shiai doesn't mean that you've got good karate technique. You are good at performing kata. That's your skill. That's what Matsumura was about when he wrote about the pedant and dancing. There nothing wrong with it – today. There is kata competition as a sport. Matsumura wouldn't have liked point fighting for similar reasons either, I guess. For having good technique on the other hand, you don't nessessarily have to be a perfect kata performer with the most perfect shiko dachi, the most dramatic timing and what not. It's important that you practice kata a lot. But it isn't less important to understand the kata and practice the applications and principles behind the kata. Good technique is not about accurate angles of the feet dictated by a training routine. It's about the best angles that make some technique work with the least amount of effort – and this depends on the opponent and can be pretty ugly and unspectacular – probably in the most cases. So what is important? It is important what you decide it has to be. The questions you made me are really good, but everybody can only answer them for themselves. But for the competitions sake kumite might be the best choice – simply because it is more spectacular than kata shiai. You've got to keep the spectators in mind, too, which often aren't experts. 2. I'd say that I have understood you quite well. I can see the point and I think similar about it. But... (There's always a "but"...) First, the "Who can hit the hardest?" thing could be avoided with according rules (like penalize excess contact). I can't see the drawback of protective gear. So that wouldn't be much of a problem. Then, I think you are barking at the wrong tree because what you describe (the loss of the "chess" aspect) is due to the point fighting rule set (and it doesn't matter if it's one, two, three or even more full points). What you describe is not more than evolution. Point fighting simply isn't chess and the tactic limited to mae geri and gyaku zuki emerged as the best to win! It's that simple. It's not only the WKF, you can observe similar things in semi-contact kickboxing. It's all about the rules. If you want to change how people fight in those competitions then you've got to change the modus. Bogu kumite and a different approach with more techniques allowed could change that. It would be more attractive for spectators, too, I think. 3. I won't argue if someone can or cannot punch with full force. I don't know you or your friends. But from my experience there is a degradation due to (nearly) no contact (I'm Shotokan practitioner myself): On one part due to the weird technique (How did Jesse describe it? "Biiiiig movement make stroooong samurai!") and on the other by the wrong distance you are usually practicing. Shotokan practioners should have a reality check once in a while and I'm sure some would be really, really surprised about their abilities. 4. Ok, I understand. But as already said: I think that you are mixing up distinct parts of karate and drawing a conditional between those. There is no need to fear a change on one part to affect the other. There are certainly factors that seem stronger than this.
    • Guy
      How is this good for Kyokushin (and off-shoot) karateka who fight knockdown rules and Shotokan karateka who fight JKA rules? If Karate is gonna be in the Olympics, the only way it would work is with a hybrid of those 2 rule sets. Give 'em headgear and let it whirl. I really don't want to see anything similar to TKD. At the end of the day, contact is a part of Karate. This isn't ballet.
  • Dan K
    Bedoming an Olympic sport did nothing but drive an avan bigger wedge between the various Tae Kwon Do styles. How could doing the same thing somehow unify Karate? What this seems to be is a line in the sand where Karateka will have to choose between life protection 'traditionalist' methods or sport methods that aren't geared towards self defense and tradition.
    • ... and in a perfect world both sides would be open-minded enough to jump that "line" whenever they wish to learn/experience other aspects of Karate.
      • Dan K
        But we don't live in a perfect world. Unfortunately I see a split coming where there will be sport karate and combat karate just like Judo is a sport and JuJitsu (Japanese) is 'traditional' Can anyone demonstrate a martial art that has successfully unified with both sport practitioners as well as combat oriented practitioners?
        • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
          Isn't karate supposed to be somewhat about self-perfection?
          • "Strangely" enough, during my travels I have never met a grandmaster who has attained any earthshaking level of self-perfection. Yet, the belts around their waists suggests they've all "mastered" it...
          • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
            Yeah, that's really "strange". Who knows, perhaps it's the belts that makes them keep off from it?! ;) I was more refering to our imperfect world with those adamant "lines in the sand" between here and there.
        • Dan K
          In the end, I do believe in live and let live, but it would be a shame to push the old ways to the side only to push the sport ways to the forefront. I came from TKD to Karate because the sport focus was far too shallow for my tastes. If I want sport, I'll play a game. For me, Karate is not a game it is a part of who I am.
          • Ben
            Hi Dan, if Karate is part of who you are, would you not embrace it (all parts of it) regardless of whether or not the sporting component is there? If karate is part of who you are, would you not then play sport karate when you want a sport as opposed to something else? Isn't calling competition/sport karate a game not calling athletics, watersports and gymnastics games too? Sport karate in the Olympics is competitive karate (WKF rules) at the highest level, and each participant is just much of an athlete as a sprinter, swimmer, gymnast or any other participant at that event. I don't think by any means it is a game.
          • Dan K
            Yes, athletics, waterspouts, etc are games. I never said they weren't at the highest levels in the Olympics, but none of those things are any more than a physical pursuit designed for competition. Karate was developed to keep you alive, and hopefully to respect yourself and others around you to know when it is and is not appropriate to use it.
          • Ben
            Yes Dan i totally agree with you there, but there are many karate athletes that show self respect and respect to others, and are more than capable to use their 'sport karate' to protect themselves and their families in times of need. The two paths are still the same.
          • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
            "Yes, athletics, waterspouts, etc are games […]Karate was developed to keep you alive,[…]" Hm. Go back in time and tell a native american that canoeing, equestrianism and archery are just games. Or tell the ancient greeks that running, wrestling and javelin throw are just games. ;) The truth is: Most games have its origin in something to keep us alive. Even football was created as a workout routine for military purposes. It's in our nature to create games out of chasing, hunting and fighting. Games are simpler models of the reality that a) are fun to play (go look at childrens' games) and b) improve our skills by challenging us. Games and playing are most important for what we are and they do also have a social component for creating social cohesion and satisfy peacefully our needs for social hierarchies. Believe it or not: Playing games is serious stuff! ;) The difference between sports (karate) and a martial art is that sports are about "winning" – a true martial art is about "not losing". When you enter the combat area then you enter it voluntarily with the intention to win. When you come into a self-defense situation then it's not your decision and the only thing that counts is to survive and not getting hurt.
      • Ben
        Hi Jesse, i think we're all dreaming, and there is always the hope, but realistically with or without Olympic status, karate will never be unified. Ever. Too many egos and greed involved. It's just human nature. To me, karateka's are like church goers. There are those that wholeheartedly believe in their religion (read style), but for the 99.99% of the 'practitioners', they are what I dub 'Sunday Christians'. No matter what style of religion you practice, you walk to talk for an hour or two each week (training anyone?), then outside of that you're back to normal day to day life and what you have practiced goes out the window. Olympic status may unify some different sporting bodies, because those that aren't part of the WKF will have just woken up to the fact they will lose students and members if they don't participate because they don't have a road to Olympic glory, but that's about as far as it will go. Negative? Yes, and I'm ashamed of it, but it's also realistic, in my personal opinion.
  • Dan
    In my humble opinion, I still think there will be a greter distance between "traditional" and "sport" karate, but this interview made me think both can actually complete each other, much more so now that the level of competition is going sky high with the Olympics. Sure, they'll be miles apart, yes, but does that mean the determined karate-ka couldn't benefit from both?
  • Yen Zen Ichi.
  • Nelson
    This article does not represent the truth. In fact, the ITKF - which according to Court of Arbitration of Sports, governs Traditional Karate which is different from the Sport Karate of WKF, has always said that Traditional Karate of ITKF and Sport Karate of WKF should be working together for the Olympic program. But, WKF is the problem. They want only Sport Karate. This would be like IOC forcing the Classic Game of Volleyball, only competing under the rules of Beach Volleyball. This is not correct. Traditional Karate today is used by many style organizations worldwide. Of course both words people can use but Hidetaka Nishiyama, first Chairman of ITKF, to make clear the difference between sports karate and Traditional Karate, used this name for the first time. From this period the name of Traditional Karate became fashion, many organization then decided to include the word traditional in their propaganda. But it’s not only the name it’s the meaning of it. For that reason IOC recognized ITKF organization as a Traditional Karate Governing body in the World. In 1993, the 101st IOC Session (General Meeting) specified that Traditional Karate is the discipline, which is practiced by the ITKF and governed by its rules. In the Instructor Manual of ITKF written in 1988 and published in 1989 is very clear this matter: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL KARATE AND OTHER NEW KARATES A. Traditional Karate, as the original Karate, involved from Japan as a martial art. Technically speaking, traditional Karate is based in the technical concept of the “finishing blow”. The finishing blow is defined as a technique sufficient to destroy an attacking opponent. In Concert with other related techniques, the finishing blow technique brings together the total body power focused for percussion on the target area. In traditional Karate competition, everything is based upon the art of self-defense. Fro instance, only the finishing blow technique is recognized for point scoring. Furthermore, in accordance with the principle of finishing blow offers no second chance, the Traditional Karate competitions are single point matches (shobu ippon in Japanese). Therefore, careless actions and sloppy techniques are minimized because of the critical single point basis of each match. As a self-defense art, the size of the opponent is not known nor is it relevant. Self-defense principles demand preparation for self-defense against any opponent regardless of size. Moreover, in many instances, the opponent may be larger. As a competitive art, Traditional Karate uses competition as a means to further training and to enhance the total human development by improving emotional stability, mental discipline and proper etiquette. Taken together, these goals from the underpinnings of the Traditional Karate competition Rules. B. New Karates The other new Karates had their development origins in the Traditional Karate from Japan. These new Karates derived their techniques and orientations from the punching and kicking basis of Traditional Karate. While appearing to be similar, these new Karates made some crucial modifications. Perhaps the most critical was the change in emphasis and philosophy from a self-defense martial art to a multiple point game that used punching and kicking. For example, it is generally known that the new karates incorporated kicking and punching action in the broadest and most general sense. The points awarded in the competitions were based on the quickest and closet hands and feet to the target. In such a situation, “the finishing blow” was not a requirement. As a result, the application of the impact force through total body action was not necessary. Moreover, a priority was placed on economy of body action. In this most important regard, the Traditional Karate body dynamics were completely opposite from those of the new Karates. Because the new Karates had no requirement of a finishing blow, their competition rules were based instead on multiple point systems. In the case of New Karate organizations, there exist, either three point or six half -point systems to choose from. Traditional Karate is based on the art of self-defense. Because opponent size is consequently irrelevant, there is not weight category. On the other hand, the new Karates base their outlook on the concept of a game and not on the martial arts. One of the new Karates has seven individual weight categories.
    • Luca
      Listen to this guy^^. He speaks truly on this matter. Have a look into United World Karate (UWK), which is a group that is uniting ITKF, General Karate, and Contact Karate, in order to get Karate into the Olympics. Osu!
  • Tim Herlihy
    If "K" is on the way is it ta,ta TKD? Would not the viewing public be confused by the two Olympic standup white uniform etc sparring codes? We know the difference they don't.Kata could be the key?
    • Fingers crossed!
  • I think that Olympic Karate can be a very good thing. Some masters think that it will overshadow Karate-Goshin-Jutsu, but I don't see how. Tournament karate isn't new and Karate for self-defense endures because when you see a high level karateka face an attacker, you can see the difference. The difference between really good karate and tournament-winning karate couldn't be more stark. The first thing anyone says when they see tournament karate is: what happens if the person grabs you, takes you to the ground? But the first thing anyone says when they see good karate is: how could you attack that guy? So I think the excitement that would come from Olympic karate would add energy and excitement to the international karate community.
  • Dave
    If I were asked, "Hey Dave, what do you think of having point-fighting and martial dance competition in the Olympics?" I would say, "great!" Gather all of the world's most talented fighters from every martial discipline and find out who are the fastest, most accurate, and most controlled point-fighters and let's see which performers of martial dance (kata, forms, whatever you want to call them) have the most grace, power, speed, balance, and flexibility. Let's bring a true martial spirit to the Olympics and find out who's the best, and let's do it right. But no. We'll probably remain separated and fragmented. Sport karate will remain sport karate. Tae Kwon Do will remain Tae Kwon Do. etc. etc. etc. What is the motive to make karate an Olympic sport unto itself? Is it narrow self-interest or honest desire? Look at it from the perspective of an Olympic spectator: do I want to see who are the best karate performers in the world, or do I want to see the best martial athletes in the world? I think the honest answer is the latter.
    • Leo
      "Let’s bring a true martial spirit to the Olympics and find out who’s the best, and let’s do it right." This thought I cannot share at all. Martial spirit is not connected to the olympic thought of being superior - a criticism that has already been uphold by Spartans and Romans of antiquity. However, with the rest of your comment I couldn't agree more. Let's get away from the styles and back to heavy athletics.
  • Dave
    You're right Leo, and I agree with you. Instead of "martial spirit," I should have just said "enthusiasm."
  • Antonis Tzounis
    All these nice words almost put a smile on my face. I am very skeptic, if not pessimist, on how WKF recognized Karate Styles will treat other styles. For example, in my country there cases brought to court between ELOK (Greek Karate Federation - WKF representative) Karate Schools and other, non-WKF-complied Karate Schools. There are arguments on who has the right to organize "Karate" tournaments, who has the right to use the word "Karate" to describe his martial art, the type of the competitions he organizes and other, quite funny, stories. You can check this article and with little help of google translate, understand what I mean: http://www.mahitikanea.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1902:-kyokushinkai-karate-&catid=60:nea&Itemid=81 If you manage to understand the meaning of this announcement, it says that only ELOK Members have the right to organize legal, valid competitions that have to do with the sport of Karate and that any other thing is against the law. The other combat sports that made it to the Olympic calendar followed a different way. TKD, is a result of the unification of many Korean Kwans into one united fighting sport. Similar story with Judo that came out of Jiu-Jutsu. Karate was not unified, "purified", or simplified by any way in order to become such a sport (yet), and maybe (for me) that is its beauty. Practitioners can choose this style or another. I do agree with the fear that there will be many McDojos promising to train your kid and prepare it in order to be an Olympic Champion, to gain medals, glory, fame and MONEY (let's be honest, money matters). I am wondering how this complies with the Budo principles of humbleness. I agree that anyone can train for his own reason and have his own goals through Karate. We must admit, though, that there are plenty of Dojos out there that train under the traditional/Okinawan way and sport aspect of Karate is not much of their interest, or have much different Kumite rules (e.g. no weight or belt categories). There is also a great number of non-WKF, Kyokushin and Shidokan (Soeno) Dojos that refuse to participate in Kumite under WKF rules, because simply Knock Down Kumite is a cornerstone to their style. Like thinks are going, seems like all these dojos will have quite a hard time to gain the right to call their competitions "Karate". I am optimistic though, that if one day Police Officers knock someone's door and tell him that, as a non-WKF member, he is illegal to say that he trains Karate, he will, at least, be able to return to the TODE deffinition for his art... :D
    • Boban Alempijevic
      Sounds like a scary thing is happening to karate in Greece, not a fun thing at all. I have to say that I agree with everything you are saying. The more time goes and the more I think about it, the more we talk about it in the dojo it simply seems like wrong to me. I would almost be able to agree with it if it was JKA competition rules and not WKF, but nooo, WKF tried its own way. well, let them try, and let anyone try to tell me I do not practice Karate since if I some day would choose to change style to Kyokoshin for example. I know what I practice, wrong.. I know what my "do" is and how far I am prepared to follow it, nothing else matters. I tend to agree with my Sensei though, As long as WKF tries to take Karate to the Olympics, they can try, they will not succeed though, not with there rules. Now people will try to say this and that to me, But simply put,that is my belief, and I dont care about pushing it on others, but others seem to love pushing there beliefs on people. Antonis, good reply to the article. *Bows* OSU
      • Antonis Tzounis
        Dear Boban, Seems like more and more people tend to agree with us. I am not this kind of person who, just because I don't prefer sports karate I would say a thing against it, or do something about it. In the same way I would never try to get any benefit of it, it it goes big some day, because simply, I was not part of it. Karate-ka who want to go that way, may go that way, no problem. I am always open to interact with people of different scopes, styles or martial arts. As a Chinese quote sais: "There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same". I just don't want to live under any kind of dictatorship or ownership. Karate above all is art and became an art because people had to put some "grace", some spiritual elements, to their every-day repetitive hard self-defense training, so that they don't get bored to death... :D Being something an art means directly that this art can be expressed in various ways. Good will, lack of personal ambitions and egoism and respect for each other will bring us together. If this sounds too ideal for some people, then they can, at least, adopt the Japanese way of decent behavior, no matter how many things separate them from others. Personally I am very disappointing watching Senseis quarrel like plain salesmen, in the most cynical way, in order to split the pie of the Karate legacy, which by they way do not own... :D
        • Boban Alempijevic
          Antonis, I think I just got a happy smile inside me soul :) That is whats a bit annoying, if I happen to think that this whole idea is a bit off due to this and that I usually get jumped on by people saying that I am trying to be a traditionalist.... Just like you said, there are many paths to the top and not all people can be taking the same path, but most people forget to respect that part. I do not want to be smacked into a label of what Karate is, and that is exactly what will happen if it gets to the Olympics. Not only by people that are NOT training martial arts, but also by martial arts people, and that kind of gets to me. When I started to train in my Dojo I pointed out to sensei and his helping teachers that I do not intend to compete in either kata or in kumite, I simple want to train and to train hard like there is no tomorrow. Do you know there answer? "What ever makes you happy, Karate is far more then just competition".
  • Benjamin K
    So I hear through some friends that the WKF has failed (apologies if I am wrong as this may cause some hysteria) in their bid for the Olympics, losing out to Rugby Sevens and Golf. Apparently this has been so for a while. I'm jut wondering if this is the case, then why has the WKF kept promoting the 'K is on the Way' at the World Championships, and misleading the community in general, instead of informing everyone?
    • Bitsy
      Rugby Sevens and Gold beat out karate for 2016. The IOC decides these things years in advance.The "K is on the Way" is aimed at the 2020 Olympics, I believe.
      • Bitsy
        *Golf, not Gold - sorry!
  • Cassie
    I'm not sure if anyone is still commenting on this, but I'm curious if the average Olympic viewer (the kind that only tunes in to competitions like wrestling, track, swimming, or the like once every four years) won't simply view karate point sparring as TKD with punches? If that's how the lay person views it, could the IOC be reluctant to include it because it thinks viewership (read that as money) will be low? I don't mean to ruin anyone's dream of Olympic gold, and I know there are plenty of Olympic level karate athletes out there, but there needs to be some obvious differentiation between sport karate and Olympic TKD to draw ordinary people's attention to it. Part of the goal of adding karate to the Olympics is to increase exposure, right? Kata is one way to do that (a great way, barring overly flashy, impractical movements), but if people want kumite included I think point sparring will neither draw viewer's interest nor encourage fighting spirit among athletes. For me, it feels like there is too much focus on getting the point no matter what, technique and follow-up be darned. Maybe that's just a skewed view from what I've seen locally though. Any thoughts on that?
    • Antonis
      Basically, I agree with you. But it is business (with tons of money from sponsors, homologized products etc). Under this scope WKFers may do whatever they want to put their sport inside the Olympic Calendar. I agree with your point on how average sport viewer will be able to recognize TKD and Karate. My parents and friends many times think that all white uniformed/black belted sports are more or less TKD (or Judo)... (laughs)... But as far as Olympic games include, and encounter as individual, sports like Beach volley, 4 types of cycling (mountain, bmx, road, track), and TRAMPOLINING(I am still laughing with this) or equestrian, I can't see why WKFers shouldn't be ambitious on putting their sport in Olympic schedule as well... :D The whole thing with Olympic games is of control in terms of sports that are included in its calendaing or beach volleyball as sports? I can't accept equestrian as a sport as well because it is mostly based on million-dollar horses and is the only sport you can see 50-60 years old competitors (Ok, Merlene Ottey competed in London 2012 and she was 52, but that's another story)... In other words, if you have a trendy enough sport and above all a strong federation (economically and politically) you can knock IOC's door and ask for your sport to become an "Olympic Sport". This is not so right, if you ask me...
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Dear All, Having competed in my own country back in my day in the Sanctioned State, and National Open WKF Tournaments, as a successful Shotokan competitor - it was enjoyable. But then as a Kyokushin competitor, it became very frustrating. Here's my point : Shotokan is now a point fighting system within Karate which has its up sides such as speed, however the down sides are overwhelming; as Lyoto MACHIDA can and will tell you. Just as Lyoto moved into MUAY THAI, I moved into Kyokushin. Going back into WKF tournaments as a Kyokushin Yudansha was ridiculous. My body had adapted to literally being able to stand almost still and get flogged, especially with gedan maiwashi Geri's to my legs (believe you me, in the beginning they really really hurt). Often being unable to walk for two weeks at a time. Upon trading such Kicks with other competitors at WKF tournaments I found myself receiving warnings from the Judges frequently, along with being DQ'd (disqualified). Either way, YES, I was hit in the face, hard, and fast from what the other competitors had to deliver; but NOTHING like being hit in the ring with K-1 Rules. Basically there's NO comparison. In the beginning WKF tournaments were appealing and fun, making State Teams, National Training Squads etc, but with the move to Kyokushin and being flogged by Full Contact Knock Down Rules was a rude awakening for me. It took me almost three years to get back to a level that my fellow Yudansha within Kyokushin respected given I was atrocious in the beginning getting whipped by Green Belts. One of them (from Germany) whom a few years ago won the European Kyokushin Championships. I enjoy watching the KATA and the demonstrations of Bunkai however the WKF Kumite IS A JOKE ! Bottom line; Take the Olympics back to its ORIGINAL State, and combine Taekwondo, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing, and Karate; thus, WE ALREADY HAVE SUCH A DYNAMIC ! Its called, "UFC". If there should be ANY martial art in the Olympics it should be those competing and wanting to compete in the UFC. As for the KATA, and its demonstrations of Bunkai - this should be amalgamated with the UFC syllabus however; NOT WKF Kumite; only then do I believe that the IOC will have NO choice but to concede allowing ALL martial arts to be as ONE ! The Olympic Games has become somewhat a JOKE, with sports such as Table Tennis, Badminton, Golf, Soccer, Tennis to name a few. Hence the old saying, "Keep it simple Stupid", the old K.I.S.S. Rule. People want blood. Martial Arts IS A BLOOD SPORT. SO , place UFC in the Olympic Arena, and watch at the sales of tickets go within 10 minutes. Thus, the three most watched events will be Gymnastics, Swimming, and UFC. But get rid of having Boxing, Wrestling, Taekwondo, Judo, etc - bring them all together; as it was in the Original Games. Its not about saying all the others are no good (they are, the competitors are exceptional ! However it is about KEEPING IT HONEST , BY KEEPING IT REAL ! Attendance to the UFC in the Olympics would be incredible with a packed out stadium. What are your thoughts ????

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