Karate into the Olympics and what about KWU

KWU General Secretary Sergey Suvorov commented the news about the Olympic future

for karate and announced the prospect of KWU in this process

Everyone knows that World Karate Federation WKF was repeatedly storming Olympic leadership for inclusion of karate in the programme of the Olympic Games and now, finally, the dream of the millions of karatekas all over the world came true and this kind of sports will be represented at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 year. I’d like to note immediately that this refers now only to the participation in Tokyo Olympics. There 4 more such sports as karate. This is the novation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it deals with the reformatory strategy of the new IOC leadership and personally with the president Tomas Bach. Indeed, according to the Olympic Charter (in essence the charter of IOC) rotation of sports for every Olympics follows the principle one in – one out (one enters and another one exits the programme of the Olympic Games).However, the Olympic Session as the supreme authority has the right to solve any questions, which deal with development of Olympic movement, which was decided after the Olympic Games in Sochi-2014.  Therefore, for participation in the programme of Games 2024 WKF will have to go through the difficult voting procedure again under the condition that the country-holder of the Olympic Games will nominate this kind of sports. 

Nevertheless, through the decision of IOC, millions of viewers will know that along with the box, judo and taekwondo there is also such a martial art as karate! And this, to my mind, is a positive factor for all karate in the world, including Kyokushin.

I have received a lot of questions, concerning this theme, in this article I would like to tell you a little about the complicated process of negotiations between KWU and various subjects of international sport movement, including WKF. This process started in 2010 during the 1st World Combat Games in Beijing more than a year before the establishment of KWU. There was the 1st meeting of the WKF President Antonio Espinós and the Chairman of the Russian Kyokushinkai Association Yuri Trutnev organized, involving Hein Verbruggen, SportAccord President at that time. There was the question of integration of Kyokushin in the structure of SportAccord  discussed and as the shortest and the most right way (from the perspective of existing rules and regulations) was the strategy of integration of Kyokushin in the worldwide karate united by WKF, which was recognized by IOC as the kind of sports in 1985. One of the essential obstacles was (and, unfortunately, still is) disconnection of Kyokushin all over the world. And then shihan Trutnev defined for himself and then suggested his colleagues to discuss the problem of unification of different schools and organizations in one union with a high purpose to become the part of worldwide karate and move forward to the Olympic movement. This is the way KWU union was established, idea of which was supported by such leaders of worldwide Kyokushin as kancho Royama, hanshi Arneil and shihan Hollander. Moreover, the Bulgarian Karate Kyokushin Federation leadership in the person of its leader sensei Ivo Kamenov played the big role in the process of establishment of the Union.Then the complicated process of rapprochement with the leadership of WKF that at first was quite positive. However, on May 30, 2013 on the day of making a decision by the IOC Executive board about the returning of the withdrawn earlier sports – wrestling in the programme of the Olympic Games Mr. Espinós stopped cooperating with KWU. I’d like to remind that it happened in Saint-Petersburg when the leaders from 10 countries, including Russia, the USA, Turkey, Japan, Greece, Iran, Georgia and others all-together claimed about the necessity of returning of wrestling in the programme of the Olympic Games, because wrestling has its origin from the first ancient Greek Olympic Games. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin attended the meeting of the IOC Executive board. There was a big chance for karate to pass this voting instead of wrestling. Despite this fact, with the support of the new President of SportAccord and at the same time the President of International Judo Federation Mr.Marius Vizer, who thinks that Kyokushin can be represented in sport karate quite well with the rules of full-contact kumite, we continued our movement forward to integration with organizations, which were interested in it. We started to cooperate well with the leadership of WKO Shinkyokushin and personally with shihan Midori, who also supports the idea of recognition of full-contact version of rules in karate.  In the result of this cooperation the Agreement between WKO and KWU was signed in October 2015, Khabarovsk in the framework of KWU world championship.We didn’t lose hope and constantly returned to the dialogue with IKO under the leadership of kancho Matsui. In May 2016 in Tokyo there was a meeting of 2 leaders, shihan Trutnev and kancho Matsui held, where the possibility of establishment of working contacts was discussed. And the agreement was reached. However, the sudden shift of the current Bulgarian fighter and IKO world champion Zahari Damyanov into the organization of kancho Royama was estimated by IKO leadership quite in peculiar way and attitude to KWU in the whole and the perspectives of possible dialog disappeared at the initiative of IKO.  KWU was originally established and functions as the organization of “umbrella’ type, which does not interfere with the policy of international organizations, including the rules of shifting, that was explained to the leadership of IKO.

Nevertheless, karate is in the programme of the Olympic Games. And as I think mostly due to the venue of the Olympic Games in 2020 – the city of Tokyo and the efforts of the Japanese Organizing Committee of the Games, which actually put forward for voting 5 kinds of sports. I am reminding one more time – we are talking now only about one-time appearance of karate in the Olympic Games. To the programme of the Olympic Games, as far as I know. There will be strongest athletes in 3 men weight categories, 3 women weight categories and individual kata for men and women allowed. There are 8 kinds of the programme with 10 people in each of them.

In electronic mass media the information about integration of IKO in WKF structure has been spreading. I would like to clarify this matter, referring to open (and not very open) sources of information. Indeed, in April 2015 Mr. Matsui  and Mr.Sasagawa signed the agreement, according to which some of IKO structure join WKF Olympic inspirations and will prepare their athletes for participation in competitions under the WKF rules. I remind to readers, that there are 2 kinds of competitions in WKF karate: kumite and kata. That’s all. And moreover kumite under the rules, which people call no-contact.  In fairness it must be said that some contact elements were added for audience appeal and objectivity but it is not the contact, to which the followers and viewers of Kyokushin are accustomed. So, signing of the above mentioned agreement between IKO and JKF (Japan Karate Federation) as it follows form the name of the party in the agreement, it regulates cooperation only on the territory of Japan. In other words, dojo of Mr.Matsui will be open for training of karate instructors only in the framework of national (all-japan) elimination. And it is clarified to all IKO branch-chiefs by its leader. It is out of question that every leader has the right to define the way of organization and the regulations for preparation of athletes. But everyone should understand that this is not about any contact versions of rules.  And Kyokushin fighters from IKO in Japan will be able to fight, following the WKF rules only!

But, taking into account the fact, that  in May 2016 Mr. Espinós announced that the national elimination rules will be revised toward the openness for different karate schools all over the world, to my mind, devaluated the mentioned above agreement. That is, judging by the announcements made by the WKF leadership in May, participating in elimination round of competitions a representative of any school can be selected to represent his national federation. But everyone should understand it is not enough to be a national champion. It is necessary to struggle for the Olympic license, passing through the difficult circle of elimination competitions. It is already clear today that it will about only 80 athletes from all over the world. Everyone is waiting for the policy of Olympic elimination, but in fact the Olympic doors are open for any follower of any of karate schools. And, how experts say, this regulation was adopted on the IOC requirements, because till today WKF is quite a closed structure, despite the charter declaration of unification of supposedly all kinds of karate in the world. It is enough to mention a known fact of falsification during the unification of traditional and general karate, when according to the decision of the 101st IOC session WUKO had to transform into WKF. And it was done but without the participation of ITKF (traditional karate) representatives, instead and on behalf of whom were the signatures put in charter documents by the representatives of WUKO…But this is another story. If anybody is interested in this issue you can find in Internet the announcement of the former WKF Vice-president Mr. Emitiaz Abdullah. There you can find quite interesting details. In fact, then-president of IOC Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch made a decision about the recognition of WKF single-handedly beyond the decision made on 101st IOC session.

In other words, for those who didn’t understand details of complicated relationships of WKF and Kyokushin, I can say that karate in the Programme of the Olympic Games 2020 will be represented only in the version of WKF rules and the agreement between JKF and IKO didn’t help Kyokushin to move forward to the Olympics. On the contrary, it mostly made it even more difficult for other groups to defend the interests of full-contact version of the rules. It is not a secret that now the WKF leadership claims with confidence that Kyokushin is with WKF. Before this they also tried to convince world sport movement and themselves that all Kyokushin already integrated in WKF system through 180 national federations long time ago. This is what Mr.Espinós told shihan Trutnev at one of the first meetings.And in the end, some words about the perspectives of KWU in this situation.
Now it is evident that WKF is going to include contact rules neither in the Olympic programme nor in the kind of sports karate. Although there is a good example in the same wrestling when along the Olympic rules there are non-Olympic sports(grappling, pankration, beach wrestling, belt wrestling and even the ancient Persian wrestling – pahlavani!) are in the programme of UWW International Federation (previously FILA). Think about it, 3 Olympic disciplines and 5 non-Olympic! And in karate there is no place even for full-contact rules.

As a matter of fact, in many personal talks to Mr. Espinós he, as it seems to me, sincerely believes that contact karate in any of its manifestations is an absolute evil. It’ s very violent – he repeated constantly. Moreover, he thinks that people hitting each other even on Tatami initially cannot sincerely respect each other. As people say, comment is needless…But we are not going to sit back and do nothing. As everyone already knows, on November 24-26, 2017 KWU holds literally historical world championship on the motherland of karate –Japan and at no less historical place – at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Taiikukan)! In gymnasium, where Sosai Oyama held his first world championships and where his students still hold championships. And we are going to welcome the representatives from no less than 70 countries in hospitable Tokyo. To my mind, with an extended coverage of this championship we will be able to show to the world the beauty and attractiveness of Kyokushin , the most contact and beautiful kind of sports. Viewers, officials, sponsors and fans of martial arts will have a chance to compare the Olympic karate and the karate of Mas Oyama.KWU was established with the purpose to unite the like-minded people form full-contact schools round the Olympic dream in order to declare aloud about the rights of the millions of our followers on all continents and bring the Olympic dream in life!