This article analyses the creation of the first WUKO and IAKF World Championships from 1970 to 1977, the time during which they had only one weight division.
To remain in the subject, we will not return to the Championships in Europe or Asia. We do not mention the other federations, which have organized other World Championships, given their little importance.
To fully understand the context of amateur Karate at this time, let remind that a schism has existed for a long time between various Japanese federations, the JKA (Japan Karate Association) and the All-Japan University Karate League. The FAJKO, All Japan Karatedo Federation Organizations, brought together for a short time, most of these divergent federations.
Me Hidetaka Nishiyama :
It is necessary to introduce one of the main characters of Karate at this time, Me Hidetaka Nishiyama. The latter begins his karate learning with Me Gichin Funakoshi himself, in 1943. Nishiyama is one of the founders of the JKA, where was also Me Hirokazu Kanazawa. Nishiyama settled in the USA in 1961 and created the All American Karate Federation (AAKF).
1950: Taiji Kase (left) vs Hidetaka Nishiyama (right)USA vs Japan, 1965 :
2nd Goodwill Games, Tokyo, 1967 :
According to January 1968 Black Belt magazine, the All America Karate Federation USA team beats the All Japan Collegiate Karate Federation team in Tokyo, by 3 to 2. Frank Smith meets Tadahiro Kurozumi and Paul White meets Takenobu Okuno.
1968 : World Invitational Karate Tournament
This paragraph is based on the article published in the No. 11/1968 issue of the German Judo/Karate federation journal.
From October 19th to November 14th, 1968, 4 world karate tournaments are held in the USA (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego) and Mexico City. 5 regions are represented, from Europe (Italy, Germany and England), Japan, Mexico, South America (Argentina and Uruguay) and the USA. Me Hidetaka Nishiyama organizes these tournaments. They are open to all styles. It is therefore a first step to the World Championships. The results are:
10.19.1968: Los Angeles. 19th Olympic Commemoration Invitational World Karate Championship Tournament.
The two above mentionned paragraphs are based on the February 1969 Black Belt issue. The Japanese are 7 fighters in their team and Europeans only 6. American Team, almost composed of AAKF fighters, include Frank Smith, John Gehisen, Ray Delk and James Yabe.
Southern California beats Europe (Falson, Ottagio and Paris for Italy, Sherry, for England, Popp in Germany) by 3 to 2.
Japan beats Southern California by 3.5 to 1.5 or 3 to 2, depending on the version.
Frank Smith, left, beats Masayoshi Yamagami.
An individual tournament takes place thereafter. Frank Smith loses his second match against Katsuyuki Miara. James Yabe loses against Yanagida. 4 Japanese are in the semi-finals and Tabata beats Ohishi in the finals.
San-Francisco: Goodwill match and Fourth All America Karate Federation Championships.
In individuals :
Frank Smith def Miyake in the semi finals and Sasano/Hawaï in the finals, for AAKF title.
Teams competition :
Europe beats Northern California 3 to 2
Japan beats Northern California 5 to 0
10.25.1968 : San Diego.
Europe beats the United States Collegiate All Team 3 to 2
The All Japan team beats the United States Collegiate Team 3.5 to 1.5
11.04.1968: Mexico: 19th Olympic Commemoration Invitational World Karate Championship Tournament.
The fighters have been selected during national tournaments and form five teams of the above mentioned regions. Results :
1st: Japan (undefeated)
5th: South America
A congress is held at the same time in Mexico. The creation of a world federation and of the first World Championships is mentioned.
Ryoichi Sasakawa :
We are obliged to raise this personality at this point of our article. We will avoid sensationalism and we do not pronouncing on the facts of the following. On the Internet, in detailed articles, like those available at the following address, http://www.voltairenet.org/article13907.html, Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryoichi_Sasakawa, it is often mentioned that Sasakawa was a member of various Japanese pre-war secret societies, which brought the territories occupied by Japan in cutting-settled.
He was arrested in 1945, as war criminal, before being released in 1948. Member of the yakusas, he put his services to Americans and anti-communist, while developing his economic activities.
Mr. Sasakawa's bust in the WHO, Geneva?
He became immensely rich. Sasakawa made philanthropies and sponsored sports activities. He became president of the FAJKO and the WUKO (see below), with his financial capabilities made to their development.
October 1970 : 1st World Championship (Tokyo)
In 1970, Jacques Delcourt/France created the International Karate Union (IKU). He wants to organize the first World Championships in Paris, the same year. Various discussions were held with Ryoichi Sasakawa.
The FAJKO enter into an agreement with the European Federation (EKU), recognizing it as a governing body for Europe and leaving to Japan the task of organizing these first tournament. Championships have already been announced in Paris for 1972.
Details on the Championship are taken from the number of March 1971, Black Belt Magazine and the number 11/1970, German federation Judo journal.
A stormy congress is held before the tournament. The WUKO, World Union of Karate-do Organizations, is nevertheless created at the time.
The championships organization was made during the last months. All major styles of karate are invited. According to some sources, the Japanese masters, based in various countries, selected fighters to send to the championships.
The first World Championships were held on October 10th, 1970.
Team's tournament :
There are 40 Japanese referees and only 2 referees from other countries.
Japan has 5 teams, the USA 4 and the other countries one.
Among the selected U.S., were included Ron Marchini and Mitchell Bobrow, well-known in various U.S. tournaments. Difficulties have existed during the selection of the fighters, between practitioners of typical Japanese or more American styles. The Americans have had to pay themselves, between $ 1,000 and U.S. $ 1,500 .--, to go to Tokyo. The teams are composed of 5 fighters. Results:
The U.S. B team, led by Tonny Tulleners, meets Korea, Hong Kong, France, Team B and E, Japan. Only these two last teams beat the U.S. B team. Tulleners and Takada of Japan remain unbeaten during the team's tournament. Against the Japan Team E, in semi-finals, Bob Shapoff loses against Oishi, James Yabe draws againstYazawa. John Gehlson draws against Tanaka and Tonny Tulleners beats Nakamura via Ippon. In the last fight, Georges Sasano loses against Ida.
1st Japan E
2nd Japan C
3rd Japan B
4th USA B
It is sometimes mentioned that the French Team wins bronze medal , in 1970 ,in Tokyo. The American newspapers of the time, as Black Belt in February and March 1971, suggested that the team USA B finished 4th, after having beaten France. The first three teams are Japanese. To avoid controversy, we join the page of the newspaper No. 11 of 1970, from the German federation, showing the matches between teams and mentioning the elimination of France in the quarter-finals, http://www. chronik-karate.de/material/1970_11_DJB-Magazin.pdf
To be complete, the excellent French site http://senseiruns.free.fr/index.php?page=pionniers presents this image, showing the French team as bronze medalist in 1970 ?
Who was bronze medalist in 1970 ?
In Osaka, 3 days after the teams Championship, the "Friendship Tournament", organized first as a non-title tournament, becomes known thereafter as the first individual World Championship. It is noteworthy that Black Belt Magazine already talked about it as such.
At the individual tournament, only two fighters pro nation are engaged, for a total of 48 fighters.
According to the rules, a waza-ari does not automatically give the win, but can give the decision at the end of the fight. The fight duration has been limited to 2 minutes, with 2 times 2 minutes over-time, if necessary. The results:
For France, Dominique Valera and Gilbert Gruss are present, as the German Richard Scherer and the Belgian Geert Lemmens. For USA, Tonny Tulleners and Ernie Brennecke represent this country. Tulleners was qualified for this Championship, preferably to Marchini and Borbrow, given his victories, without defeats, during 4 teams tournament held earlier in Tokyo. Tulleners is 24 years old and teaches karate. He was before a undercover policeman. Brennecke, qualified in individuals, has not participated to the teams tournament.
It would appear that no representative of the Korean Taekwondo and of Okinawa karate are present.
Tulleners/USA def Takada/Japan. Cemovic is disqualified against Carno/Canada. Valera beats Jorga/ Yugoslavia. Scherer/RFA loses against Wada/Japan
Carnio beats Tulleners. Valera loses against Wada.
Wada def Carnio.
Wada (right) vs Dominique Valera
We mention the presence of a woman from the Philippines team. She get a draw during a fight.
April 1972: 2nd World Championship (Paris)
This paragraph is based mainly on the article published in June 1972 issue of the Black Belt Magazine.
Japanese masters are again responsible for the selection of American fighters, as Me Nishiyama. There is a disagreement between the various American federations.
Regarding American selections, the article in Black Belt, refers to a qualification tournament held on March 5th, 1972, at Los Angeles and organized by AAKF. Several American federations refuse to take part or are not invited.
Mainly followers of traditional Japanese karate are selected. The winners are James Yabe, James Field Jr., Tonny Tulleners, Jerry Morrone, George Byrd, Frank Smith, Dave Vaughan and John Gehlsen. Ron Marchini is eliminated during the finals.
It is noteworthy that John Natividad, practicing Tang Soo Do, a student of Chuck Norris, was disqualified for hitting with to much contact.
In the August 1972 Official Karate issue, Jacques Delcourt, the president of the European Karate Federation, says he had problems to organize an American selection. He asked Mr. Uyehara, manager of the Black Belt magazine, to contact, among others, Ed Parker, Jhoon Rhee and Robert Trias, to organize a all styles selection. It was without success. Jacques Delcourt was contacted by Mr. Nishiyama, who will be responsible for this selection, via the AAU. Jacques Delcourt notes that the professional fighters are not allowed and that there are few Americans among the officials.
The Championships take place in Paris, in the Stade de Coubertin, on the 21st and 22nd April , 1972. The ticket price is between USD 6.-- and 20 .--. Each team member receives USD 22.-- per day, for his expenses. On April 19th, a referees selection will be made, after a clinic. On April 20th, a congress is organized and on April 23rd, a visit in Versailles is planned for the fighters.
Teams tournament :
The England team eliminates Japan. The French eliminate the English, before beating the USA. In the finals, France meets Italy. François Petitdemange beats his opponent, as Alain Setrouk. The Italian Guy Falsione beats Guy Sauvin. Valera gets a draw. Gilbert Gruss beats Schiappacasse. France wins the gold medal.
1: France (Gilbert Gruss, François Petitdemange, Guy Sauvin, Alain Setrouk and Dominique Valera)
2. : Italy (Parisi, Schiappacasse, Munda, Fassione, Falsoni?)
3: United Kingdom
According to some versions, Americans, Canadians and Japanese would have withdrawn, given the problems encountered with the referees, during the teams tournament. The results:
1st Luiz Tasuke Watanabe/Brazil
2nd William Higgins/G.B.
3rd Guy Sauvin/France
Luis Tasuke Watanabe was born in 1947 in Japan and has settled as a child in Brazil.. During the tournament, he beats Luciano Parisi/Italy, Bam Bang/Indonesia, Istvan Sipter/Yugoslavia, Ticky Donovan/Great Britain, Ken Wittstock/South Africa, Huber Louis Meyer/Netherlands, Guy Sauvin/France and William Higgins/Great Britain.
Watanabe, left, vs Higgins
William Higgins will be further team gold medallist in Los Angeles in 1975, and will also practice for the AIKF. He practises Wado Ryu style. Guy Sauvin, 28 years old, has already been the same year France and Europe champion. Thereafter, he will remain for many years National Technical Director of the French Karate.
October 1975: 3rd World Championship (Long-Beach)
This article is based, on the February 1976 issue of Karate Illustrated magazine and on the number 1/1976 German federation Karate journal.
Initially, this Championship was scheduled for 1974, but difficulties between federations have postponed it for a year.
For the American selections, a preliminary tournament brought together 26 fighters at Long-Beach. Many among them have paid themselves the costs. Huey Daniels, Kenneth Ferguson and others are selected.
Before the World Championships is held the WUKO congress, on the Queen Mary, in the Los Angeles harbour. The French Jacques Delcourt is the Chairman. Some karate teams are also sleeping on the Queen Mary.
The role of sponsor of President Ryoichi Sasakawa is mentioned on many occasions, with the risks of interference in the decisions, because M. Sasakawa brings his financial help to the WUKO. The role of the Japanese federation FAJKO, inside the WUKO, is observed (the two entities are sharing the same building).
Regarding referees, a clinic is held prior to the competitions. A first session was held in Tokyo, two months earlier. The rules comprise 36 pages. The referees made a written test and a practical test. 46 referees receive their certification.
The fights take place at Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles. According to the organizers, during the two days, 6000 people have visited the tournament, for 14,000 seats. Other sources cite only a few hundred spectators.
Teams tournament :
30 teams are present, one for each country. The results:
1st: Great Britain: (Brian Fitkin, Eugene Codrington, William Higgins, Adams and Bennett)
2nd: Japan (J. Hamaguchi, Kazusada Murakami, Yoshikaz Ono, Tsuchiy, Yonimitsu)
Britain has beaten South Africa, Philippines and Belgium, then Japan in the finals, by 2 to 1. Japan has beaten New Zealand, Switzerland, Singapore and Netherlands. France (title holder) is beaten in the first round by Australia, Germany by Philippines and the U.S.A. by Belgium.
The second day, 130 fighters from 34 nations compete for the title. 4 combatants are allowed pro nation. Following the injuries occurred during the teams tournament, protections hands are introduced. The results:
1st: Kazusada Murakami/Japan
2nd: Juni Chiro Hamaguchi/Japan
3rd: Pedro Antonio Rivera/Dominican Republic
4th: Roger Paschy/France.
Murakami (right), 1975 World Champion
In semi-finals, Hamaguchi beats Rivera and Murakami def Roger Paschy. Rivera def Paschy for the third place.
Video are available on You Tube, the address: http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=5ijFbF5SYpI, http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=pDnfc4aKv1M and http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=PpJOkj8dzA4.
Demonstrations made by Bill Wallace, Al Dacascos, Fumio Demura and Dan Inosanto, are available on You Tube. Fighting women have taken place during this championship, without further precision. The Championship was a financial failure.
For those who would be interested in the incident created by Dominique Valera, during these championships, please refer to the article which is devoted to this fighter, in this blog.
1977 : Fourth World Championship (Tokyo)
These Championships take place in Tokyo. 400 karatekas from 47 countries are participating.
Teams tournament :
1st: Netherlands, with Fred Royers
1st: Otti Roethoff/Netherlands
2nd: Eugene Codrington/United Kingdom
3rd: Chen Chien/Taiwan
4th: Jean-Pierre Carbila/Spain
Thereafter, the WUKO World Championships will include weight divisions.
The third WUKO World Championships are scheduled for 1974, also at Long-Beach. Any problems between federations create a schism. Me Nikiyama, former vice-president of the WUKO, then organizes his own World Championship, with representatives of the JKA. He founded the IAKF (International Amateur Karate Federation), focusing on the traditional Karate. Thereafter, both the WUKO and IAKF compete for the IOC recognition.
1975 : 1st World Championships (Los Angeles)
The date and place for this first Championship are very similar to those of the WUKO, because it takes place in Los Angeles at the end of August 1975 (Los Angeles, October 1975 for WUKO). Results:
Teams tournament :
22 participating teams.
2nd: Germany (West Germany)
2 fighters pro nation.
Oishi beats O'Grady/Japan. Hedlund/Sweden def Willrodt/Germany. Higgins/GB def. Evans/USA. Tanaka/Japan def Michelis/Italy.
Oishi def Hedlund. Tanaka def Higgins.
Tanaka def Oishi, for the first place.
Higgins beats Hedlund, for the third place.
Higgins had attended both the WUKO and the IAKF 1975 Championships.
1977 : 2nd World Championship (Tokyo)
These Championship takes place in Tokyo, on 2nd and 3rd July, 1977. This time, too, IAKF chooses the same year and the same city as the WUKO. Results:
Teams tournament :
1st: Masahiko Tanaka/Japan
2nd: De Michelis/Italy
Images of a fight between Tanaka and Willrodt: http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=yhIv8p__1Mk
Tanaka (left) against Wichmann/Germany, teams tournament
during the finals, 1977
Masahiko Tanaka has therefore won the gold medal in individuals at the first two IAKF Championships, then the team gold medal, during the third World IAKF Championships, at Bremen/Germany, 1980.
The problems between the WUKO and IAKF are very old and are "made in"Japan. These two federations will change their names later, becoming the WKF and ITKF.
Traditional Karate has lived what the USA Karate, Taekwondo, Full-Contact and even boxing, also failed to prevent, the creation of several opposed federations. This way, it was very difficult for the public to recognize this sports.
Finally, the Karate experienced a similar trend to the Judo (broadcast globally well before the Karate). Judo has also created his World Championships, 2 times in Tokyo (1956 and 1958), then in Paris (1960). The periods of time, between the Judo and Karate diffusion and the creation of their respective World Championships, are similar.