A Black Belt, Is Sport Karate, DEAD or Dying?
Anyway, I recently sent out an email broadcast to 1000 black belt recipients to make them aware of a few of the benefits in implementing a sport martial arts league with teams like the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA. My friend of sport karate responded with an email stating that he and I needed to talk and that we might be able to help each other. “Finally,” I thought, someone that understands me.
So yes, I was eager to give him a call and talk with him. So I called, introduced myself and then we started talking. He quickly informed that he had well over 40 years of experience in the martial arts industry and sport martial arts business and he went on to mention that there are still a few sport karate legends chasing sport martial arts tournaments. He later on went to say however, that there is no market for sport martial arts, and that I had a long road ahead of me in implementing a sport martial arts league. He also wished me the best of luck. I was puzzled and somewhat frustrated. Even so much that i decided to talk with my sensei, which i found he felt pretty much same way and that he and my friend in sport karate were in total agreement. In fact they’ve known each other for years and have had numerous business dealings with one another. After much careful thought, I decided instead of giving up like they’d both like me to do I choose to continue the fight for sport karate which appears to not have a voice. So i am now the lone voice for a professional sport martial arts league. A league specifically for those that have obtained the level of black belt.
Ok, so what’s happening with sport martial arts, and tournaments? No longer are the large tournaments where a black belt has to fight ten or more fights for first place. I hear there were so few black belt attendees that in some divisions you won first place just by showing up. The Battle of Atlanta was my first major martial arts event i attended as a martial artist. It was back in 1976 as blue belt, I took first place in kata but there were at least 50 forms competitors and Jeff Smith gave me a score of 10 for my form i performed. What a memorable day as a young martial artist. That day my close friend Kenny Wilkes fought ten fights to win first place. I heard the recent Battle of Atlanta had black belts winning their division without any fights. I would like to ask, what’s happening with sport karate?
Are we losing our competitive edge to the other martial arts type events, or has traditional martial arts events lost its appeal and competitors are just sick and tired of never truly being #1. Or maybe there aren’t enough accolades or no real progression? At any given time there can be ten plus light weight champions across America from different sanctioning bodies claiming to be world champions. Have we ruined our own sport by not unifying? Or have we just adjusted our schools to accommodate more of the mixed martial arts styles? Does your school wear head gear; feet and safety gear to spar or is your school ground pounding doing more wrestling and jiu jitsu? Are we just going with flow until the next big thing happens to martial arts or are we going to make a stand? There are well over 75 million tae kwon do practitioners alone practicing martial arts in the United States. Simmons Research says 18.1 million practiced some form of martial arts last year. I would say approximately 10% will ever compete in an mixed martial arts event. A professional sport martial arts league will accommodate the many and not the few, it can mean something to earn a black belt again. Just think about it.