K-1 is a martial arts fighting sport which fuses centuries of tradition from martial arts such as karate, kung fu, tae kwon do and kickboxing (the "K") into a thoroughly modern and electrifying spectator sport, to determine the single best stand-up fighter in the world (the "1").
K-1 rules allow fighters from many different disciplines to compete, and the elaborate production values of K-1 events makes these extravaganzas a veritable feast for the senses. Since its introduction in 1993 under the direction of founder Master Kazuyoshi Ishii, K-1 has become one of the world's fastest-growing sports.
Honor and respect rule in the K-1 arena, combatants draw on their finely-honed skills to deliver the artful punches and kicks that have wowed millions and made K-1 the terrific success that it is. You don't have to be a martial arts aficionado to enjoy K-1: People everywhere enjoy action and excitement, and K-1, the world's premier fighting sport, delivers.
Each year, K-1's governing body the Fight Entertainment Group (FEG) organizes a variety of fightsport events in Japan and around the world. There are K-1 Regional Elimination Tournaments which qualify fighters for the World Grand Prix, along with licensed K-1 Fighting Network events and Tryouts designed to develop new K-1 talent internationally. There is also DREAM -- a new mixed martial arts fighting format which permits takedowns and grappling.
The World Max Series, meanwhile, operates under regular, stand-up K-1 Rules but with a 70kg/154 weight limit. K-1 also has ongoing Title matches in both Super Heavyweight (over 100kg/220lbs) and Heavyweight (70kg/154lbs - 100kg/220lbs) divisions.
Since its inception in 1993, K-1's center stage production has always been the World Grand Prix Series. With an open weight class, the K-1 World Grand Prix comprises both eight-man and one-match tournaments that showcase the world's finest fighters from all manner of disciplines. This year, hundreds of hopefuls will compete in K-1 WGP events -- in Japan, Korea, Hungary, Holland, and the United States, and in affiliated events from Brazil to Sweden to Australia and elsewhere. Wherever the event, the goal is the same -- to advance toward the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix Final, where the world's eight best go head to head for the richest fightsport purse of its kind.
The classic K-1 tournament follows an eight-man elimination format. Four first-tier 3min x 3 round matchups advance their winners to a pair of semifinal fights, and the two victors there meet in the final. Thus the man who prevails in an eight-man tournament must win three fights in one day -- quite a challenge. The Defending K-1 WGP Champion, crowned the King of Kings at the Yokohama Arena on December 8, 2007, is Semmy Schilt of the Netherlands.
The K-1 World GP is fightsport's most prestigious event, attracting the world's best fighters and televised in 135 countries. K-1's 16th season will feature major World GP Championship tournaments in four regions: Europe, Asia, Japan and the United States.
The WGP '08 Series kicks off in Budapest on February 9, with the first stage of the K-1 Europe GP. That tournament will qualify fighters for the Europe GP Final, set for April 26 in Amsterdam. The K-1 Asia GP will be held in June, and the host city will be Taipei or Macao. The K-1 Japan GP returns this year, with fighters from the land of the rising sun squaring off in Fukuoka in June. The last of the GP Champions will be crowned at the K-1 USA GP in Hawaii, to be held in July or August.
The four above-determined Regional GP Champions will advance to the K-1 Final Elimination in Seoul on September 29. There they will be joined by last year's WGP Final Eight, along with four additional fighters selected for exceptional performances in K-1 WGP bouts over the year. In Seoul, the 16 fighters will square off in a one-match format tournament, with the eight victors advancing to the K-1 World GP '08 Final, set for December 6 in Yokohama.