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Growth of the WKA

By the early 1980s The American Sports Magazine (Sports Today) opined that the martial arts were the third most practiced sport in the world, indicating that a general consensus estimated that there was in excess of 20 million people globally training in one form or other of martial art. Meanwhile other martial arts bodies, seeing the success of the WKA, began to form their own versions of multi-disciplined associations around the world. Some succeeded; many failed. Those that failed seemed to have forgotten the principal of ‘Sport for All’ and did not base their ideals and rules on the democratic principle. The WKA, on the other hand, conducts annual meetings with representatives from each member country and uses a democratic procedure in policy-making.

The impact of the WKA on world martial arts as a whole was revolutionary. It was the first organized body of martial arts on a global scale to sanction fights, create ranking systems, and institute a development program, whereby children of all ages under a strict code of ethics and safety could learn a martial arts discipline via satellite WKA clubs in every city, town, and village, thus ensuring for future years the growth of the sport.

By the early 1980s WKA ring sports were world renowned, in part due to Paul Ingram, then one of the WKA UK Representatives and director of Stuart promotions. In 1993, Ingram arranged a three year contract with TransWorld Sport International and held six events that were shown on Sky Sports with fifty hours of repeat time. Throughout various meetings it was noticed that there were internal organization problems. Paul Ingram decided to buy the sanctioning rights from Dale Floyd, the then president (who had taken over from Howard Hanson in the mid-1980s). At an event featuring Ronnie Green vs. Peter Cunningham at the Mirage in Las Vegas as part of the undercard of Bennie "The Jet" Urquidez's retirement fight, there was a meeting during which the presidency passed form Dale Floyd to Paul Ingram. Although the passing of the torch was not accepted by 10% of the WKA it important, for growth at the time was stifled by nepotism within the organization.

At that time there were two WKA offices, one in Holland and one in Canada. The offices were not working as closely together as they should have been, and this situation allowed for far too many inconsistencies. Ingram did some restructuring by relocating the WKA Headquarters to the UK in order to have things centralized and in one office. Some of the greatest European WKA Promoters were Ampie Verkaart , Henk de Vries from Amsterdam, and Semmy Kebchi from Paris, who all hosted many great World Title Bout matches.

Over the next the three years the WKA’s membership more than doubled and the organization sanctioned four times the number of events. Results were published weekly and the ratings were as accurate as possible, being updated every two months.

At this time the WKA turned some of its focus to the mat sports. Mat sports include various types and divisions of katas or forms, point fighting and semi-contact fighting. Most importantly, the inclusion of mat sports opened things up for all disciplines, at all levels and all ages to come together and compete, not in the ring but on mats in a tournament format.

The WKA was the first world body to recognize that all martial arts could be united under one format of competition and rules system and compete in complete safety. Within a few short months the WKA staged its first World Championships, which were a resounding success, more so for the fact that for the first time ever children were allowed to compete from as young as ten years old. The WKA, continuing its role as innovator in the martial arts world, had created a worldwide system that could now allow children from every country around the world to take their art to world champion status, ensuring the continued growth of the sport for future generations