Fighters who rise to this type of standard find it easier to obtain sponsorship which is welcomed by all athletes in this day and age. Some countries do have nationally sponsored teams and Great Britain itself is heavily working in this area also. If Kickboxing does get accepted into the Olympic games at some stage then hopefully there will be further support not only for travel but for the regular training requirements of our countries elite. WAKO are regularly attracting the press and the media who now always cover the competitions and televise them.
This article will outline exactly what opportunities are open to the Martial arts athlete on the competition circuit away from the other side of WAKO, where they obviously also cater for individual fights which are arranged through promoters on evening shows. These cater for the Amateurs and the Professionals alike.
A couple of areas that may raise question about the WAKO National and International competitions are:
1. Are they for Pros or Amateurs
2. Why do they follow such a strict set of rules and guidelines which may slightly differ from other Organisations.
Simple answers to these questions are: WAKO hold International competition and invite athletes on an “ Open ” basis, this means all fighters are fully aware that the intention is to attract the highest level of skilled martial artists from any field. Due to the strict regulations set out by WAKO and the differing safety requirements of all the countries involved plus the fact that the competitors compete over several days it is important that they are protected by certain mandatory safety equipment which includes the use of the headguard.
Due to WAKO being accepted and fully recognised by GAISF and the IOC as the official governing body for kickboxing they have a duty to adhere to all the regulations which have been mutually agreed on. Each country has a strict selection process for International fighters and will only allow one competitor per weight category at International Competition. This selection process means only the top athletes are selected and hence why the standard of the competition is so high.
Where some fighters may just wish to train for a singular fight as many do, (Maybe 3,5,7 or 10 or 12 rounds for a professional title) none of these people should underestimate what the endurance fighter has to go through! It is just another format.
The ring sport competition fighter might have to fight two (3 x 2 minute rounds) fights per day over 3 days and then fight off in a final in a league type situation. During this time they have to keep away from injury which could ultimately put them out of the competition if they are not allowed to fight the next fight or the next day due to injury such as a closed eye or a cut received in the fight previous. Also not forgetting that all ring sports fighters have to make their weight at an official weigh in which is conducted every morning of the competition!
The organisation of a competition on such a massive scale can be a nightmare but because WAKO have now been involved in this for such a long time the competitions are very organised and run with ease. Each countries President within WAKO are part of any democratic decision made and this also involves in which country the next championship will be held. Fighters are always accommodated in good quality hotels to make them as comfortable as possible whilst competing and under the stress which is obviously involved.
The officials are very well trained and qualified and must attend courses and meetings prior to every championship. With a smart formal appearance they are all overseen by ring supervisors and the head of the department. The 10-9 must scoring system supported by the use of clickers means the results recorded should reflect a fair representation of the fight. This minimises the possibility of any questionable decisions or problems.
WAKO have to split their International championships up now because of the sheer size of them. They are usually split as per the following:
Full Contact (Ring Sport), Points (Tatami), Musical Forms and Weapons (Tatami)
WAKO K1 Rules (Ring Sport), Low Kick (Ring Sport), Light Contact (Tatami)
The competitions are then further split into Juniors and Adults
As seen above, WAKO basically have three specialised areas for ring sports they are:
1. Full Contact
Full Contact within WAKO basically follows the normal format of Full Contact Kickboxing throughout the World with a 6 kick (Above Waist) requirement and follows the 10-9 must scoring system we are accustomed to within boxing.
2. Low Kick
Low Kick is very similar to the full contact style but does allow low kicking to the legs which gives a little more variation in scoring technique. A very popular style with the Europeans and the Eastern block.
3. WAKO K1 Rules
Wako K1 rules was developed to allow more variation at the International championships and within professional show circuit. This style allows the use of all full contact kickboxing techniques including the use of the knees to leg body and head along with a limited working clinch and the spinning backfist. Normal kicking is allowed along with kicks to the legs also.
Following the ring sports are the Tatami Sports
4. Light contact
Light Contact is fought on a matted area on the international competition circuit but can be fought in the ring if included in an evening show type situation. It is a light contact form of Kickboxing where the referee is responsible for keeping the fighters within a controlled contact environment.
Points, known widely as “ Freestyle Kickboxing ” has a very technical and tactical side to it where the competitors will make fakes and dummies before scoring at a high speed without been scored on. Each time a point is scored the centre referee will stop the fight, relate to the judges and indicate a score which is continually tallied.
The Musical forms and Weapons categories are not combative but do add to the variation and added entertainment value provided by the huge amount of talented participants.
WAKO GB runs its very own British Open Championship which is split over two days and held at Sheffields Ponds Forge International Arena. It involves Full Contact, Points, Light Contact and Musical forms and Aero Kick.
This years dates are: 21st and 22nd February 2009 with the first day being for Light Contact and Aero Kick and the second day Full Contact, Points and Forms.
The Full Contact is Pre-register and Pre-Pay only.
There are also regional WAKO competitions which provide great fighting/training areas for fighters who want to try and excel and go on to the International scene.
In closing we must not forget a quick mention for WAKO Pro which is the professional arm for kickboxing
Feel free to look in on the official WAKO web sites at:
By Full Contact Sub Editor Cris Janson-Piers