There was a time when everyone who was anyone loved karate.
Karate was everywhere for kids growing up in the ’90s, thanks to the success of movies like Karate Kid, games like Street Fighter and actors like the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Somewhere along the way things changed though – the Karate Kid got old, Ryu did one Hadouken too many and JCVD lost his mind and started doing beer adverts. The emergence of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC also saw a growing number of folk explore alternative types of martial arts and ways of getting fit through combat.
But that could all be about to change with the launch of a new professional combat sports league from Karate Combat, which is being set up to revitalise the sport, get people interested in karate again and potentially offer something to rival UFC. The fighting is full contact, with rules developed by martial arts experts and top fighters, and takes place in a special Karate Combat Fighting Pit, designed to encourage continuous action.
The professional league will be the first ever to display biometric, nutrition, training, and DNA-based data in real-time via its custom interactive Heads-Up Display, giving fans unprecedented insight into all fighters’ hidden strengths and weaknesses. The slope-sided Karate Combat Fighting Pit, meanwhile, will allow for cage-free views and Hollywood production quality, and the flexibility to be installed in unusual indoor and outdoor locations globally.
Fight footage will be available to watch on Karate.com and through a specially designed app. With the popularity of boxing on the wane and the thirst for combat sports increasing, this could be a unique chance to make karate cool again.
“Karate is back! Approximately 50 million Americans have participated in Karate at some point in their lives with an even greater worldwide following, yet no professional league exists,” said Michael DePietro, CEO of Karate Combat. “To date nobody has harnessed the beauty of this ancient sport for 21st-century fans and mass media appeal.”
Karate Combat has already signed over 100 of the top Karate fighters from over 30 countries. The roster includes Elhadji Ndour of the USA, Achraf Ouchen of Morocco, Dionicio Gustavo of Dominican Republic, Davy Dona of France, George Tzanos of Greece, and Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan. Rafael is the most decorated fighter alive, arguably the world’s greatest living Karateka and a 2020 Olympic front-runner.
The league boasts the top fighters in each weight class of semi-contact karate in addition to Karatekas with athletic attributes suited for full contact competition. For the first time ever, the best practitioners of the sport will have a professional outlet while building global fan bases and competing for their nations. Above all else, Karate Combat athletes demonstrate the core martial arts values of honor, respect, and modesty creating a sporting environment that can be enjoyed by all ages young and old.
The newly established Full Contact Karate Unified Rules and Regulations reward execution of clean offensive techniques with maximum impact, creating action-packed, easy to follow contests. Throwing techniques are allowed with immediate follow-up–however, the match is reset if both combatants go to the mat, keeping the action striking focused. Each contest consists of three rounds of three minutes, with offensive techniques scored more highly than counter-strikes.
The league will air its first live event, Karate Combat: Inception in Miami Beach on April 26, but it’s from there that things are going to get really crazy. After that, Karate Combat is setting up a special all USA vs. Iran fight card in May in Dubai which promises to be controversial, bloody and also a great watch. From there a string of exotic locations and fight cards to be announced for 2018 including in Athens, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
One thing is for certain: this is going to kick ass.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.