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Type Private
Founded 1993[1]
Founder(s) Kazuyoshi Ishii[2]
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Key people Sadaharu Tanigawa (President)
Nobuaki Kakuda (Executive producer)
Industry Martial-arts promotion

K-1 is a Japanese kickboxing promotion based in Tokyo, Japan founded by Kazuyoshi Ishii, a former Kyokushin karate practitioner, and owned by the Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG), who organize combat sport events in Japan, and around the world, that include events by the mixed martial arts promotion Dream. K-1 combines stand up techniques from Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Savate, San Shou, Kickboxing, western-style Boxing, and other martial arts.[3] It's rules are similar to those of kickboxing but they have been simplified to promote exciting matches that may end in a knockout win.[4] K-1's techniques and unique rules have led some supporters to declare it a sport distinct from Kickboxing while others maintain that it is just a style of kickboxing.[5]

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 kg (154 lb) Super Middleweight division called K-1 MAX ("Middleweight Artistic Xtreme"). In 2007, K-1 introduced two new Title belts separate from K-1 World GP Champions, Super Heavyweight World Title for fighters over 100 kg/220 lbs and Heavyweight World Title for fighters under 100 kg/156-220 lbs.



K-1's predecessor Seidokaikan Karate was formed in 1980 by Kazuyoshi Ishii, a former Kyokushin karate practitioner who had formed his own organization to help promote the best stand-up martial artists. 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.


Broadcast deal

On November 21, 2008 HDNet Fights announced its partnership with FEG to air K-1 events in North America.[6]

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.

Qualification and match-ups

K-1 Qualifying System 2009

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

In the beginning, the K-1 series was a single tournament in Japan with fighters participating by invitation. K-1 has now 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.

K-1 attempted to gain popularity in the United States by holding two GPs, however only a few Americans have ever qualified for the Finals. In 2006 one of the American GPs was relocated to Auckland, New Zealand. Additionally the K-1 Paris GP lost its qualifying right in favor of Amsterdam.

The Final Elimination is an event where 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 were some minor modifications because Peter Aerts was replaced 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. This is done differently at the Tokyo Dome, however. The event is combined with a ceremony where the fighters pull a ball from a glass bowl with a number on it. The balls are marked with numbers 1 through 8, determining fighter order. 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.


In 2007, because of the monopoly-like reign of Semmy Schilt, the K-1 organization introduced two new title belts and restructured the qualification system. The two 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-man tournament system remains and the GP titles are 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 hold more than one title, then the extra ones will be chosen by the organization. The last two spots will be selected by K-1 and the votes of fans from around the world.".[7]


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.

The 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 led to a very high knockout ratio in the K-1, since the fighters 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 Thai Boxing and the lack of this is basically the biggest difference between Thai Boxing 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 Thai Boxing, the fighters often hold on to each other to continuously use their knees and elbows.

Due to the combination of rules and allowed techniques, the common low kick has time and again proven itself to be one of the most efficient techniques in the K-1 fighter's arsenal. Even world class boxers have become completely pacified during their attempts to enter the K-1 fighting circuit (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 originates. 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. Four time champion Semmy Schilt also comes from a full contact karate style known as Ashihara, where low kicks are prioritized as technique in competitions.But the greater success came from that of muay thai fighters. Kickboxing is also a common combat style in K-1. Some famous kickboxers include Masato, Peter Aerts and Albert Kraus.

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.


  • 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

Popularity and criticisms

The sport is very popular in Japan, Korea and in Europe but enjoys only limited popularity in the United States. Majority of US states do not sanction fight events, and therefore K-1 fights 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 TV in Japan, XTM in South Korea, HDNet ("HDNet Fights") in the United States and on Eurosport in Europe. Reruns of older events are also aired on The Fight Network in Canada and Star Sports in India. Smaller K-1 sanctioned events are also broadcast in other countries by national and local sport channels.

There have 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). 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.Also there have been a few questionable judging favoring japanese fighters during the finals.

List of K-1 world champions

Full list of all the K-1 tournament champions see List of K-1 champions.

K-1 World Grand Prix Champions

Year Champion Runner-up
1993 Croatia Branko Cikatić Netherlands Ernesto Hoost
1994 Netherlands Peter Aerts Japan Masaaki Satake
1995 Netherlands Peter Aerts France Jerome Le Banner
1996 Switzerland Andy Hug South Africa Mike Bernardo
1997 Netherlands Ernesto Hoost Switzerland Andy Hug
1998 Netherlands Peter Aerts Switzerland Andy Hug
1999 Netherlands Ernesto Hoost Croatia Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović
2000 Netherlands Ernesto Hoost New Zealand Ray Sefo
2001 New Zealand Mark Hunt Brazil Francisco Filho
2002 Netherlands Ernesto Hoost France Jerome Le Banner
2003 Netherlands Remy Bonjasky Japan Musashi
2004 Netherlands Remy Bonjasky Japan Musashi
2005 Netherlands Semmy Schilt Brazil Glaube Feitosa
2006 Netherlands Semmy Schilt Netherlands Peter Aerts
2007 Netherlands Semmy Schilt Netherlands Peter Aerts
2008 Netherlands Remy Bonjasky no runner-up[8]
2009 Netherlands Semmy Schilt Morocco Badr Hari

K-1 World MAX Champions

Year Champion Runner-up
2002 Netherlands Albert Kraus Thailand Kaolan Kaovichit
2003 Japan Masato Netherlands Albert Kraus
2004 Thailand Buakaw Por.Pramuk Japan Masato
2005 Netherlands Andy Souwer Thailand Buakaw Por.Pramuk
2006 Thailand Buakaw Por.Pramuk Netherlands Andy Souwer
2007 Netherlands Andy Souwer Japan Masato
2008 Japan Masato Ukraine Artur Kyshenko
2009 Italy Giorgio Petrosyan Netherlands Andy Souwer

K-1 Super Heavyweight Title Champions

Date Champion Event № of defenses
March 4, 2007 – present Netherlands Semmy Schilt
def Ray Sefo
K-1 World GP 2007 in Yokohama 3 29 June 2008 France Jerome Le Banner
2 13 April 2008 New Zealand Mark Hunt
1 23 June 2007 United States Mighty Mo

K-1 Heavyweight Title Champions

Date Champion Event № of defenses
April 28, 2007 – December 17, 2008[9] Morocco Badr Hari
def Yusuke Fujimoto
K-1 World GP 2007 in Hawaii 1 29 June 2008 Brazil Glaube Feitosa
March 28, 2009 – present Japan Keijiro Maeda
def Gokhan Saki
K-1 World GP 2009 in Yokohama

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Alternative spellings



  1. (canoeing) A class of kayak for 2 seated people.

Simple English

K-1 is a kickboxing competition. It is a mix of Kickboxing, Kung fu, Karate and Boxing. It started in 1993. K-1 has fighters from a lot of countries.


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