Welcome to the World Of
Karate, Kickboxing, Tae kwon do and Kung fu are among the martial arts upon which K-1 is founded. Throughout the year, the world's best fighters face-off in K-1 qualifying events on five continents for the honor of competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix, held in December in Tokyo.
1980: Kazuyoshi Ishii (Right) establishes the Seidokan Karate school in Osaka, with dojos and university-based karate clubs in the Kansai area.
1982: The first All Japan Karate-Do Tournament is held in Osaka, organized by Ishii and Seido Kaikan, the new governing body for Seidokan Karate. The full-contact competition fills the Furitsu Gymnasium and is broadcast on local television.
1983: Seido Kaikan fighters square off against a group of Kung fu experts at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Kansai and win the contest. Meanwhile, Ishii becomes the first Chairman of the newly formed "All Japan Budo (Martial Arts) Promotion Association," an organization made up of Kansai-area karate and kenpo groups.
1985: Seido Kaikan opens an office in the United States with Tom Edwards as its manager.
1988: Two of Ishii's students, Toshiyuki Yanagisawa and Masaaki Satake, finish 1st and 2nd in the Karate Real Champion Tournament, earning Ishii's Seido Kaikan respect in the martial arts community.
1991: Following a series of successful tournaments, Seido Kaikan comes to Tokyo for a tournament against USA Oyama Karate, in which Satake beats the legendary Willie Williams.
1992: The first glove karate event in Japan, the "Karate Japan Open," is held, and Satake wins it.
1993: K-1's eight-year history began with the revolutionary vision of Japan's Kazuyoshi Ishii. A well-respected master of Seidokan Karate, Ishii had established the Seidokan Karate school in Osaka, Japan as well as a network of dojos and university-based karate clubs in the area of Kansai in 1980. Following a sky-high climb through the ranks as martial arts mentor, promoter, and official, Ishii organized the premiere annual K-1 GrandPrix single-elimination tournament at the Yoyogi Dai-Ichi Stadium in Tokyo, Japan in 1993. For the first time, a set of rules had been created to allow fighters of all stand-up fighting disciplines to compete in one ring to determine one champion. Because many of these arts brought together begin with the letter K, including Karate, Kung-Fu, and Kickboxing, Ishii named his invention K-1. A sellout crowd of 10,000 was followed up by the migration of K-1 overseas to Switzerland in 1995, courtesy of K-1 superstar, the late Andy Hug.
After the Hug-hosted K-1 Fight Night played to a crowd of 12,000, the tournament circuit reached new heights the following year when Japan's Fuji Television Network began its ongoing relationship with K-1 when it broadcasted the K-1 Star Wars fight card from Yokohama Arena in October 1996. Only two months prior to this, the sport had taken its first step into the mainstream world when a video game modeled after it was produced for the Sony Playstation Console.
By 1997, K-1 superstar competitors had reached celebrity status in the event's native country, appearing on a variety of television programs and being mobbed by fans in the streets. In less than an hour after tickets went on sale for the Grand Prix Final event, 45,000 seats were sold. Television rates skyrocketed that year and K-1 officially became the country's most popular sport.
The following year, K-1 made its United States debut in the form of the K-1 USA Grand Prix, a qualifying tournament that would give North American fighters the opportunity to gain entry into what was now arguably the most prestigious mixed martial arts event in the world: The K-1 World Grand Prix Finals.
The tournament circuit saw further growth in 1999 with sell-out attendances at various K-1 cards throughout Japan, including the K-1 All-Stars and K-1 Spirits. The overwhelming international popularity of the sport led to the establishment of the K-1 World Grand Prix Series 2000, which brought K-1 action to ten nations on five different continents throughout the next year. With the number of K-1 events increasing in the United States as well as throughout the remainder of the world in 2001 as well as a further increase scheduled for the coming year, the sport continues to grow at an astronomical rate with no end in sight.
The K-1 Organization itself was founded in 1993 by Master Kazuyoshi Ishii. K-1 has quickly become one of the world's ultimate fighting sports. Although the intense battle originated from Seido Karate, K-1 was designed to determine which Martial Arts (fighting sport) is the strongest of them all. The "K" comes from the first letter of the various styles of Martial Arts that make up K-1 which are, KARATE, KICKBOXING, KUNG FU, KAKUTOGI, and TAE KWON DO. The "1" means there is only one weight class and the champion is truly "number one" in K-1 competition.
The premise of the K-1 Grand Prix is quite simple. This is where all Martial Arts can converge on one ring, under one rule, to answer these simple questions:
Which Martial Arts style is the strongest for the K-1 style of Competition?
Which Heavyweight fighter is the best in the world under the K-1 Rules?
Like the IKF National Amateur Championship Tournaments, the K-1 is truly a contest of survival of the fittest. In order to conquer the K-1 Grand Prix a participant must win three consecutive fights in one day. These fighters have been highly trained in the physical, mental, and technical aspects of Martial Art combat; they make the impossible possible. These highly trained and disciplined athletes are better known as K-1 fighters. K-1 is quickly becoming a popular form of sports entertainment with boxing and wrestling fans as well as 250 million Martial arts practitioners worldwide. Internationally, K-1 is very popular in Europe and Japan. At the K-1 Grand Prix Championship final at the Tokyo Dome, over 70,000 fans attended the live event and 30 million viewers sat glued to their seats watching it on Fuji television (one of Japan's largest television networks).