World Fighting Kyokushin Organization

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Vladimir Sloutsker: “Professionals hit heavier”

Vladimir Sloutsker

The full contact Kyokushin karate team of the USA will be trained from 2015 by… the Russian coach. We have asked the president of the World Fighting Kyokushin Organization (WFKO) Vladimir Sloutsker about the reasons.

– Vladimir Iosifovich, please tells us why the Americans decided to invite the Russian coach Aleksey Gorokhov to train the USA team for the 2015 full contact karate championship?

– There is a simple answer to your question. At the end of September Aleksey Gorokhov won the USA open championship in super heavyweight in spite of his venerable for a sportsman age – 42 years old. This factor confirms the mastery of the sportsman, as Aleksey’s opponent in the final competition was the American almost twice younger. Moreover, at the last world full contact karate championship in Sofia in 2013 the Russian sportsmen won 11 gold medals from 14 weight categories! Russian karate school prevails today over other countries’, and Aleksey Gorokhov is undoubtedly the most titled coach among the Russian coaches. By the way, there was one more famous fighter at that championship – Dmitry Savelyev, who won a gold medal with knockout in his own weight category.

Dmitry Savelyev is hitting. The USA Open Championship’s Final.

Dmitry Savelyev is hitting. The USA Open Championship’s Final.

– Is the popularity of full contact karate in the USA the same as here in Russia?

– Yeah, full contact Kyokushin karate is trained by 12 million people all over the world. National Kyokushin karate federations are officially registered in 140 countries. But in spite of its popularity, this sport has not become the Olympic one yet. To rectify this mistake in December 2013 upon an initiative of the Russian Kyokushin Federation with the assistance of the USA National Federations, was established the World Fighting Kyokushin Organization– WFKO.

– How will the establishment of some new organization transform full contact karate into the Olympic sport?

– Can I start not from a main but from sore subject? Not only in our country but also in the majority of other countries the non-Olympic sports are subsidized with whatever funds remain. There is little financing from the government budget; it’s hard to find investors represented by big companies or regional government authorities. That is why the development of full contact karate was up to now developing mostly by means of sportsmen’ membership fees. Karate fighters are the “poorest” sportsmen – they get 50000 rubles at the average for victory. Compare it with fees got by tennis or boxing champions. It’s hard to talk about full contact karate as about a professional sport.

– What would you like to achieve by establishing the world professional fighting organization?

– We suggested new rules of fights, new methods and training programs, more precise organization of the whole global collaboration. In fact, it’s a conversion from amateur to professional sport when millions of enthusiastic amateurs should follow the professional elite.
As a spectator I have a lot more interest to view professional fights of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or Aleksandr Povetkin rather than fights of amateur boxers even at large international tournaments. Professional sportsmen hit heavier and more diverse. Great boxers attracted new sportsmen to go in for this sport, and those who went in for boxing before, strove for more training and improving of their mastery. The same goals – spectacularity + popularity +technique perfection are the main principles of our organization.

– What else does impede the karate development?

– Infighting prevents the full contact karate from development; I’d even say, some sectarianism of the leaders of different international Kyokushin federations. On penalty of exclusion the sportsmen and coaches of particular federations are forbidden to participate in contests and trainings of another’s. Best sportsmen of the world can’t fight to define the strongest one. Although such sectarianism is originated from Japan and China, when every master taught only their students the secret techniques, such an approach is outdated nowadays. Secret martial art for insiders had transformed into mass democratic sport. Unless the split in full contact karate is not overcome, it’s at least naive to hope for getting the Olympic status.

– What WFKO has managed to do already?

– Today apart from federations of Russia, the USA and Switzerland, which stood at the origins of our organization, we were joined by the federations from Spain, UK, South Africa, Israel, and, what’s very important, by the Japanese colleagues. Japan as a home country of karate, stood apart from global trend, and many Japanese sportsmen and coaches were displeased with it. On the 7th of December the martial arts festival in Samara will be visited by the representative delegation from Japan, and their fighters will for the first time take part in WFKO fights with Russian, American and European sportsmen.
By the way, in Japan as well as in other countries of the world there are the schools of full contact karate – not Kyokushin schools, which would like to participate in our tournaments according to the professional WFKO rules. Of course we’ll welcome them.

Israel, WFKO training camp, September 2014

Israel, WFKO training camp, September 2014

Our coaches, who are fairly considered to be the best in the world, held several training camps and seminars with the participation of foreign sportsmen both in Russia and abroad. Recent such training camps took place from 23d up to 28th September in Israel; they were visited by the coaching team consisted of 3 people and headed by the legendary Kyokushin master, the “founding father” of this karate style in Russia – Aleksandr Tanushkin. Today he is the WFKO’s senior vice-president.
It’s even not enough to talk about any serious Kyokushin karate development as a professional sport. We need annual tournaments schedule at regular monthly basis in order the leading fighters can constantly sharpen their skills. As it is for example in such professional sports as tennis, downhill skiing, car racing.

– So when this system will work at full degree?

– I’m sure in 2015 we’ll make not less than 10 international titled and rating tournaments. We are now consulting with our partners from other countries – the USA, Japan, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and also CIS countries about the organization of the first world championship among professional sportsmen in Moscow, which we’ve called “Continents’ Cup”. There will be 2 sportsmen from each continent in lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. For Kyokushin karate this championship will be an important milestone and a significant step for getting the Olympic status.

Original interview (in Russian):

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