World Karate Federation

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World Karate Federation
Sport Karate
Jurisdiction Worldwide
Abbreviation WKF
Founded October 10, 1970[1][2][3]
Affiliation IOC
Regional affiliation World
Headquarters Madrid
Location Spain
President Antonio Espinós of Spain
Official website

The World Karate Federation (WKF) is the largest international governing body of sport karate with 191 member countries.[4] It was formed in 1990, is the only karate organization recognised by the International Olympic Committee and has more than ten million members. [5][6][7][8] The WKF organizes the Junior and Senior Karate World Championships, which are each held every other year. The President of the WKF is Antonio Espinos, and the headquarters are located in Madrid, Spain.[9] The styles recognised by the WKF are Gōjū-ryū, Shitō-ryū, Shotokan and Wadō-ryū.[10]


Karate was introduced into Europe around the 1950s by Japanese masters, mainly from the Japan Karate Association (JKA).[11] In 1961, Jacques Delcourt was appointed President of French Karate Federation, which was at that stage an associated member of the French Judo Federation. In 1963 he invited the six other known European federations (Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Spain) to come to France for the first-ever international karate event, and Great Britain and Belgium accepted the invitation.[12]

In December of that year, six of the seven federations gathered in Paris, in what was to be the first European Karate Congress, with the aim of improving and organising karate tournaments between their countries. It was noted that the unification of the different karate styles was impossible, and so they decided to unify the refereeing.[12][13]

By 1965 the European Karate Union was created, with Jacques Delcourt voted in as President. The following year the first European Karate Championships were held, in Paris. The event drew roughly three hundred spectators and was shown on live TV; however, it drew criticisms for being too violent as there were many facial injuries. The EKU council had differing opinions about the source of the injuries, with opinions ranging from excessive rules violations to lack of conditioning and blocking skill. This problem was addressed in some part at the first referee course, held in Rome. Here, the refereeing rules were harmonised using the JKA rules as a basis.

In 1970, the International Karate Union (IKU) was formed by Jacques Delcourt in an effort to organise karate at world level. Upon hearing this, Ryoichi Sasakawa, President of the Federation of All Japan Karatedo Organization (FAJKO), which later changed its name to the Japan Karate Federation (JKF), traveled to France to discuss the creation of an international governing body.[11][14] The IKU was quickly disbanded and a new organisation was formed between the EKU and the Japanese federation, and was called the World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO).[15][16]

In 1985 the World Union of Karate-do Organizations was officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the official board for karate.[17]

WUKO tried to unify with the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF) in 1990 to form the WKF; however, this attempt failed and the WUKO group left to form the WKF on their own.[18][19][20][21][22][23]

In the early 1990s, Hidetaka Nishiyama's refusal to align his ITKF organization with the World Union of Karate-Do Organizations (WUKO) caused the International Olympic Committee to suspend its recognition of WUKO as amateur karate's international governing body.[24] The ITKF and WUKO had been due to merge and form a unified karate organization, but this did not eventuate.[25] The WUKO eventually became the World Union of Karate-Do Federations in late 2008.[25] In August 2016 it was announced Karate would be in the 2020 Summer Olympics.[26][27]

Competition and events[edit]



team kata with bunkai

Recognized Karate Federations[edit]


  1. ^ "WUKO Blog | Blog WUKO – WKF". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  2. ^ "Karate's pitch for the 2020 Olympics - OlympicTalk". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  3. ^ "World Karate Federation - WKF History". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  4. ^ Warnock, Eleanor (2015-09-25). "Which Kind of Karate Has Olympic Chops?". WSJ. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  5. ^ CodexCoder. "World Karate Federation - The Book". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Karate". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Final Report on the XXVIIth Olympiad" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Karate's Olympic aspirations likely to get chop". Daily Telegraph. London. 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  9. ^ "World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinos Discusses the Olympic Dream - Japan Real Time - WSJ". 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  10. ^ Kata and Kumite Competition Rules, on the WKF website
  11. ^ a b "Black Belt February 1976". Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b Arriaza, Rafael. "Chapter 16: Karate". In Kordi, Ramin; Maffulli, Nicola; Wroble, Randall R.; et al. (eds.). Combat Sports Medicine. p. 288. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Sports Shorts". Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Democracy, Karate & WKF Politics" (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  15. ^ Evans, J. K. (1988): "The battle for Olympic Karate recognition: WUKO vs. IAKF." Black Belt, 26(2):54–58.
  16. ^ "Black Belt June 1984". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Japanese Sports". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Karate in the Olympics? More than a pipe dream". Active Interest Media, Inc. (February 1985). Black Belt. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 40–44. ISSN 0277-3066.
  19. ^ "Hajime". Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Black Belt January 1979". Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  21. ^ "The Empty Hand". Fight. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
  22. ^ "Black Belt April 1993". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Karate's History and Traditions". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  24. ^ Coleman, J. (1993): "Watch out, WUKO—Here comes Shotokan Karate's Nishiyama! Noted Instructor claims he is ready to lead Olympic Karate movement if IOC ousts WUKO." Black Belt, 31(4):18–22.
  25. ^ a b World Union of Karate-Do Federations: About us Archived 2010-05-07 at the Wayback Machine (c. 2009). Retrieved on April 17, 2010.
  26. ^ "IOC approves five new sports for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020". IOC. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  27. ^ "Olympics: Baseball/softball, sport climbing, surfing, karate, skateboarding at Tokyo 2020". BBC. Retrieved 2016-08-04.

External links[edit]