K-1 World Grand Prix 1997


K-1 is a combat sport that combines stand up techniques from Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, Savate, San shou, Kickboxing, traditional Boxing, and other martial arts to determine the single best stand-up fighter in the world (the "1").

The K-1 organization's governing body is Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG). They organize a variety of fightsport events in Japan and around the world, including K-1's sister mixed martial arts promotion, DREAM. There are K-1 Regional Elimination Tournaments which qualify fighters for the K-1 World Grand Prix, along with licensed K-1 Fighting Network events designed to develop new talent internationally and there is also a 70.5kg (155lb) Super Middleweight division called K-1 MAX ("Middleweight Artistic Xtreme"). In 2007, K-1 introduced a two new Title belts separate from K-1 World GP Champions, Super Heavyweight World Title for fighters over 100kg/220lbs and Heavyweight World Title for fighters under 100kg/156-220lbs.


The sport was first formed by Kazuyoshi Ishii, a former Kyokushin karate practitioner who had formed his own organization, Seidokaikan Karate in 1980. Seidokaikan arranged several successful challenge events against other martial arts organizations, originally using rules based on the Kyokushin Knockdown karate rules, but gradually adapting and changing closer to kickboxing rules. In 1993 Mr. Ishii founded the K-1 organization exclusively as a kickboxing organization, closely cooperating with, but independent from Seidokaikan.

K-1 Grand Prix

Throughout the year there are 6 K-1 World Grand Prix tournaments and 4 main K-1 MAX events. The winners will qualify to the K-1 and the K-1 MAX WGP Final Eliminations held in Osaka Dome, Japan. From there the final top 8 fighters will compete in the K-1 World GP Finals in Tokyo Dome, Japan.

List of K-1 events

Every year there are dozens of other K-1 qualifying tournaments and preliminaries all over the world.

K-1 Rules & Tactics


The principal objective of K-1 is to win either by a knockout or by a split or unanimous decision. Victories are usually achieved by kicks to the legs, head or midsection or using traditional boxing punches, such as the jabs, hooks or uppercuts.

Classic defensive boxing stance is rather ineffective against leg kicks, and fighters are more or less forced to constantly move and counterattack. The traditional clinch, often used in boxing is not allowed which has lead to a very high K.O. ratio in the K-1, since the fighers in other stand-up fighting sports often use the clinch to gain time to recover if they have been hit. Clinching is also a big part of traditional thaiboxing and the lack of this is basically the biggest difference between thaiboxing and the K-1 rule-system. If you grab an opponent with the intent of using a knee-technique you have to let go after one single blow. In thaiboxing, the fighters often hold on to each other to continuously use their knees and elbows.

Due to the combination of rules and techniques that are allowed and not, the common low kick has time and again proven itself to be one of the most efficient techniques in the K-1 fighter arsenal. Even world class boxers have many times become completely pacified during their attempts to enter the K-1 fighting circuit successfully due to the extreme damage a low kick can deliver to the leg. Some of the best low kick performers in the world are found in several classic full contact karate styles, such as kyokushin and seidokan karate, the latter from which the K-1 origins. This has also lead to great success within the K-1 among fighters with traditional karate background, Andy Hug being the first K-1 fighter with a karate background to win the K-1 and 3-year consecutive champion Semmy Schilt also comes from a full contact karate style known as Ashihara where low kicks are prioritized as technique in competitions. However the biggest success belongs to muay thai fighters which is proved by names of K-1 champions Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Buakaw Por.Promuk. Kickboxing is also a common combat style in K-1.

The rules themselves are constantly adapting and changing to create a competition which allows for participants of different styles to fight in a fairer manner, although these rules accommodate kickboxing rules as the main basis.

K-1 Rules

  • Each match is three or five rounds in duration, with each round lasting three minutes.
  • The match can end by Knockout, Technical Knockout, Decision, Disqualification, Draw or No Contest.
  • Both the referee and the ring doctor have full authority to stop the fight.
  • The fight is scored by three judges on a ten-point must system (The winner of each round receives ten points, and the loser receives nine or less. If the round is even, both competitors receive ten points).
  • If there is a draw after three rounds, the judges' scores are thrown out and one or two extra three-minute rounds are contested. The judges' decision will then come from the scoring of each extra round only. If, after the extra round(s), there is still a draw, the judges will decide a winner based on the flow of the entire match, considering even the slightest difference. A fight can only end in a draw if both fighters go down at the same time and cannot get up, or in the case of accidental injury in the late stages of the contest.
  • The three-knockdown rule is in effect (three knockdowns in a round results in a technical knockout).
  • The mandatory eight count is in effect (the referee must count to at least "eight" on all knockdowns).
  • The standing eight count is in effect (the referee has the right to declare a knockdown on a fighter who appears to be in a dangerous condition to continue in the match).
  • A fighter can be saved by the bell only in the last round.

In K-1 single elimination tournament matches:

  • Each match is three rounds in duration.
  • The three-knockdown rule becomes a two-knockdown rule for all matches except the final.
  • One or two reserve fights are held prior to the single elimination matches. If for any reason a fighter who wins and advances through the brackets is unable to continue, a reserve match competitor, or the fighter's opponent from the most recent match, takes his place. There are certain exceptions to this rule (i.e. a fighter who lost a match by knockout might not be eligible to replace another fighter).

Source: K-1 Website


The following actions in K-1 are considered fouls:

  • Using the head or elbow to deliver a blow
  • Attacking the opponent in the groin
  • Delivering wrestling or judo throwing or submission techniques
  • Thumbing, choking or biting the opponent
  • Punching the opponent in the throat
  • Attacking the opponent while he is down or in the process of getting up
  • Attacking the opponent after the referee calls a break
  • Holding the ropes
  • Using offensive language to the referee
  • Attacking the back of the head with a punch
  • Attempting to cause the opponent to fall out of the ring
  • Voluntarily exiting the ring during the course of a match
  • Attacking an opponent who turns around and shows his back (unless the opponent loses his will to fight)
  • Delivering a backspin blow in an unauthorized area
  • Charging inside the opponent's arms with the head held low (inducing a head-butt)
  • Fighting in a passive manner (without attacking), including continuous holding and clinching
  • Attacking more than once while holding the opponent's kicking leg, or while holding the opponent's neck with both hands

A fighter is penalized as follows:

  • Caution - verbal reprimand by the referee
  • Warning - fighter is shown a yellow card
  • Point Deduction - fighter is shown a red card

Two cautions result in one warning. Two warnings result in a point deduction, and three point deductions in one round can result in a disqualification.

A red card is shown automatically if a fighter commits a foul with malicious intent.

Source: K-1 Website

Qualification & match-ups

The system of K-1 is changing from time to time as a response to the growing popularity in different parts of the world.

In the beginning of the K-1 series it was a single tournament in Japan with fighters participating by invitation. By today K-1 has branched out to all parts of the world and has been divided into preliminary Grand Prix-s, Fighting Networks and qualifiers. There are six regional GPs on all continents (except Africa and Antarctica) and all of them have the exclusive right to send the winners to the Final Elimination. Preliminaries are organized in countries with minor attendance and consists of tournaments where the winners qualify to the regional GPs.

Until 2006 K-1 wanted to gain popularity in the United States therefore two of the GPs were in the U.S., however only a few Americans have been qualified for the Finals. This situation changed with 2006 and one of the American GPs was relocated to Auckland, New Zealand. Also the K-1 Paris GP lost its qualifying right in favor of Amsterdam.

The Final Elimination is an event where the 16 participants compete for the final eight spots in the Finals. The line-up is made up of 6 new GP winners, the eight finalists from the previous year's Final, plus 2 fighters selected by the K-1 organization. In 2006 there was some minor modifications because Peter Aerts was substituted by Glaube Feitosa who reached the final match, therefore he was included in the 2006 Final Elimination.


Usually the combatants of the Elimination 16-men 8-match super fights are paired by drawing but at the Tokyo Dome it's a different case. The whole event is combined with a ceremony and a press conference and reminds of a lottery show, with the fighters pulling a ball from a glass bowl with a number on it. The balls represent numbers 1 to 8, which determines the fighters' order in choosing a position from a giant tournament tree figure standing in front of a drawn bracket. The fighter with the number 1 ball will choose first "empty" section. This procedure goes on until all the fighters have selected their first quarterfinal opponent. This system gives a freedom of choice and tactics to the fighters with the help of a little luck.

Restructuring the system

In 2007 because of the monopoly-like reign of Semmy Schilt the K-1 organization introduced two new title belts as well as restructured the qualification system. Two new titles can be acquired through single fights. One was created for the heavyweights under 100 kg fighters and the other for the super-heavyweights. Meanwhile the well-known 8-men tournament system stays and the GP titles will be still handed out.

The new tournament qualification system will be: the 8 finalists of last year, 4 new Grand Prix winners and two new single title champions - if some of the fighters holds more than one title, then the extra ones will be chosen by K-1. Finally the last two spots will be selected by the K-1 team and the votes of the fans from around the world..".

Popularity and Criticisms

The sport is very popular in Japan, Brazil, and most of Europe but enjoys only limited popularity in the United States. In most US states K-1 fight rules are banned. To date, all K-1 tournaments in the US have taken place in Las Vegas or Honolulu (with one exception: Milwaukee 2001).

The events are frequently shown on Tokyo Broadcasting System and Fuji Network in Japan, Pay Per View or ESPN 2 (after its "Friday Night Fights" boxing show) in the United States, The Fight Network in Canada, and on Eurosport in Europe. Smaller K-1 events are broadcast in other countries by national sport channels.

The competitions have met some fans criticisms over the past few years since K-1's use of lower quality athletes that headline the events for no other reason than the size (Bob Sapp and former Yokozuna Akebono), nationality or reality show celebrity status like comedian Bobby Ologun.

There's been a few alleged nationality biased controversies as well. On May 13, 2006, an all-Dutch judging panel decided in favor of Remy Bonjasky from Netherlands against Jerome Le Banner from France at the K-1 World Grand Prix in Amsterdam. Many thought Jerome Le Banner had won the contest but judges had a slim majority decision in favor of the Dutch fighter Bonjasky (30-30, 29-28, 30-28). Also there have been several questionable decisions that favoured Japanese fighters during the K-1 Finals.

Le Banner filed a protest and K-1 officials from Japan and the United States reviewed the match based on current K-1 Grand Prix judging criteria and two weeks later on June 30, 2006, the result was reversed and Jerome Le Banner was officially announced as the new winner. Source: K-1 Website

K-1 World Grand Prix Champions

Year Champion Runner-up
1993 Branko Cikatić Ernesto Hoost
1994 Peter Aerts Masaaki Satake
1995 Peter Aerts Jerome Le Banner
1996 Andy Hug Mike Bernardo
1997 Ernesto Hoost Andy Hug
1998 Peter Aerts Andy Hug
1999 Ernesto Hoost Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović
2000 Ernesto Hoost Ray Sefo
2001 Mark Hunt Francisco Filho
2002 Ernesto Hoost Jerome Le Banner
2003 Remy Bonjasky Musashi
2004 Remy Bonjasky Musashi
2005 Semmy Schilt Glaube Feitosa
2006 Semmy Schilt Peter Aerts
2007 Semmy Schilt Peter Aerts

K-1 World MAX Grand Prix Champions

Year Champion Runner-up
2002 Albert Kraus Kaolan Kaovichit
2003 Masato Albert Kraus
2004 Buakaw Por.Pramuk Masato
2005 Andy Souwer Buakaw Por.Pramuk
2006 Buakaw Por.Pramuk Andy Souwer
2007 Andy Souwer Masato
2008 Masato Artur Kyshenko

K-1 Super Heavyweight Title Champions

Date Champion Event
03/03/2007 Semmy Schilt K-1 World GP 2007 in Yokohama
06/29/2008 Semmy Schilt K-1 World GP 2008 in Fukuoka

K-1 Heavyweight Title Champions

Date Champion Event
04/28/2007 Badr Hari K-1 World GP 2007 in Hawaii
06/29/2008 Badr Hari K-1 World GP 2008 in Fukuoka

Other Notable K-1 fighters

Traditional boxing stars at the K-1 tournaments

Other fighters from various sports

See also

External links


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