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New kickboxing association looking for tough competitors

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-10-30

Okinawa is about to take the sport of full contact karate a step further, taking on the ranks of "K1 Tournaments" and the "Ultimate Fighting Champion" circuit. A new professional kick boxing association is now being formed, which will put together the combined talents of the World Karate Association and the World Boxing Association. The idea was put into motion after the success of the September 15 "Full Contact Champions Grand Prix Tournament", which was organized by Masaaki Asato of the World Karate Association's "Maki Dojo".

Master Sensei Hisao Maki, who is the actual founder of Maki Dojo, opened the first school 20 years ago in Tokyo, giving martial arts students an opportunity to put their skills to test under much more physical contact. The dojo then opened a branch in Okinawa eight years later under the instruction of Masaaki Asato, who was the Okinawa Full Contact Champion in both 1982 and 1983. Asato has been organizing full contact karate tournaments here on Okinawa for the past ten years, and is one of the main engines behind the new kick boxing association. He is currently working together with former WBA Junior Welterweight Champion Nobuaki Hiranaka to bring in more expertise to the training ring.

The new organization will combine the world class power and speed of full contact karate together with well organized tournaments to provide excellent martial arts sporting events for viewers. Asato is hoping to have his first tournament during the summer of next year. The tournaments will begin here on Okinawa, and will expand to mainland Japan and to other locations around the world. All of the events however, will bring together top class fighters for what is expected to be very exciting full contact competition. Each event will also introduce many different facets of the martial arts world. Eddie Erazo, who is the liaison for non-Japanese competitors, explained, "This new organization will be as big as K1, but with different guidelines and regulations. Everyone has seen K1, but we want to offer something different."

Erazo, who himself is a certified instructor and 17 year veteran of Okinawan Karate, will be both recruiting and training members of the foreign community here on Okinawa for possible tournament competition. "We are looking for martial artists of all backgrounds, who are heavyweights," he explained. According to Erazo, the Maki Dojo will be looking at martial artists between the ages of 18 to 25, who are about 6 feet tall and weigh approximately 200 pounds, and who are willing to compete.

The combination of World Karate Association's Maki Dojo and World Boxing Association's Nobuaki Hiranaka, will offer all selected fighters expertise in both boxing skills and full contact karate. Competitors will also have the opportunity to train with established champions such as Andy Hug and Sam Greco, who often train at Hiranaka's gym.

Although organizers are planning on surpassing K1 in popularity, they also are being careful not to "Americanize" the events. "We do not want to forget our roots," said Erazo. Starting the new organization along with the first several tournaments here on Okinawa puts the island in a lead role, which seems appropriate for Okinawa, which is deep routed in martial arts history.

With qualified instructors, tournament experience, and much support from the Okinawa martial arts community, Asato's new kick boxing association shows promising potential. Already, OTV has shown signs of support for television coverage, and quite a few martial artists are already training for future competition.

Asato's and Erazo's job right now is to keep the momentum going, and to recruit the necessary talent to make the organization successful. Anyone who is interested in competing in the new kick boxing association's future tournaments should contact Eddie Erazo at 080-291-6910.

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