September 29, 2009

Pula Croatia October 2009
Written by Master Cris Janson-Piers
WAKO GB Executive Director and Head of GB Ringsports

WAKO have done it once again! It appears that the decision of such bodies as the IOC, GAISF, WADA and Sportaccord have now been totally confirmed in supporting WAKO as the World Governing Body to Kickboxing.

Next years World Martial Arts Games in Beijing will highlight WAKO’s professionalism and will be the showcase for the organisation when only fighters representing WAKO will be selected to fight at the games. Just another small step nearer to possible Olympic recognition or involvement!

Pula, in Croatia was the hub of martial arts activity for the WAKO Junior and Cadet European Championships in the last week of September 2009. The venue was the main sports arena in Pula and all competitors were placed within three hotels within a massive self contained complex with every imaginable activity on hand and the beach literally in the back garden.

It was clear from the start that opinions and letters directed to the president of WAKO from last year had been listened to and many simple and basic improvements were in place. Competitions of such a great size take a long time to organise and clear messages have to be passed on to the next host country. The Croatians were found to be very polite and hospitable and made the busy week much easier to handle and manage.

The food was excellent and the transport to and from the venue was very organised, always a main concern of the travellers and fighters. The venue also had many other bars, restaurants and entertainment centres.

The referee and judges seminars were very informative and this year saw the introduction of the electronic (Olympic type) scoring system to the ring sport section. WAKO has successfully introduced the electronic “ Easy-Scoring ” system into light continuous sparring over the last few years and took the decision to cover the events in this manner from this year on.

Obviously some people doubted it but I actually sat and listened intensely and agreed that after a few tweaks (which were very simple and done on the day) it was ready to go. It was a huge success and this now means WAKO are now fully and electronically organised as per the Olympics.

It was nice to see so much involvement from all the countries and competitors within WAKO, some in larger numbers than others but they were there and ready for the challenge ahead. The pre fight entertainment at the opening ceremony was excellent and involved traditional and modern dancers from Croatia and a top opera singer.

The fighting started on the matted areas with points and light continuous sparring and was followed by the Full Contact, Low Kick and K1 sections in the following days. The junior and cadet ring sports section is growing year by year and the standard is growing at a great rate of knots.

Russia was out in force and ended up in forty seven of the finals within the ring, yes they are no doubt the force to be reckoned with inside the ropes. However, many of the countries rose to that challenge and chipped away at that number by beating their fighters in very hard fought but decisive final battles.

The hard and soft musical forms, including weapons was, as always very exciting and the skill and talent of some of these children and youths is just mind blowing, including backflips, tumbles, headsprings, 360’s etc etc even whilst using weapons!! These sections were run in the early mornings and allowed people to get to the arena, settle down and enjoy the entertainment before getting on with the fighting.

Regarding the officials it was noticeable that the matted areas did have the required amount of referees and judges but the ring sports sections did seem to lack in this area. Russia supplied half of the ring officials and I personally must say that the judging on the day appeared to be very fair. Now the physical step by step scores are viewable by all it makes sure that the officials keep their eye on the game which in due course improves attention and accuracy. The top ten countries overall out of the 30 attending and including all disciplines were as follows:

Place Nation Gold Silver Bronze
1 Russian Federation 37 26 17
2 Croatia 18 20 34
3 Hungary 14 14 31
4 Italy 13 6 28
5 Ireland 11 4 7
6 Great Britain 6 9 9
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4 5 6
8 Bulgaria 4 2 6
9 Slovenia 3 5 10
10 Poland 2 5 13

With the home nation not having to travel and usually turning out a full squad, just as in any other sport, we do expect them to do well and Croatia certainly turned out a very strong and full team placing second overall but Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Great Britain did exceptionally well in relation to the sizes of their squads.

After the medal presentations and Sayonara party everybody said their farewells and made their way home. Now just leaving the World Championships in Adult K1 and Light Continuous in Austria and Full Contact and Points Sparring in Italy to bring another very successful ending to WAKO’s year.

Well done to all involved.

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