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The World Union of Karate-Do was established in October 1970 in recognition of the different styles of karate and diversity of the rules.

It was inaugurated in Tokyo, Japan, where the first WUKO World Championships were held the same year involving 33 countries, but featuring only male competitors in Kumite divisions.

Women and Kata divisions were introduced at the 1980 World Championships but, by 1992, the increase in the sport’s popularity saw the governing body morph into the World Karate Federation in December 1992.

Antonio Espinos is the Federation President, and the Spaniard has served in that position since 1998 as well as with the European governing body since 1997.

The sport explained

It is a striking, kicking and punching martial art. A karate practitioner is called a karateka.

Kata is a demonstration of offensive and defensive movements which are scored by seven judges, who evaluate the kata following the athletic and technical performance of the competitors.

In Kumite, two karateka face each other in a matted competition area measuring 8m x 8m wearing a traditional karate suit known as a gi.

Athletes must land a series of blows on the target area of their opponent's body, with attacks earning between one and three points.

A competitor wins by getting eight points more than their opponent within the duration of the bout, or by earning more points than their opponent in the allotted three minutes. In a tie, the competitor who scored the first point is the winner, or in the case of a scoreless result, the winner is declared by a majority decision of the judges.

Global sport

Karate has worldwide popularity, with 197 national federations and over 10 million practitioners. At the last World Championships in Madrid in 2018, representatives of 27 national federations out of the 131 countries registered made the podium.

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