Why isn't karate in the Olympics?

I'd like a detailed answer please, already know that it only got half the votes for 2016 but wanna know why

18 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    zarn and lex are correct, but consider the following:

    the IOC has a policy governing how many sports will be in each olympic games, and how many sports will be allowed to be demonstration sports. a few olympics ago, there was a kind of "sprawl" or overabundance of sports trying to be included, so I remember hearing that they made the rules more stringent.

    formerly, the host country had been allowed to exhibit a native sport as an official demonstration sport. to my knowledge, this is no longer the case. demonstration sports are for two consecutive olympics, and then if they continue to grow, they may be included in the olympics. (they first have to meet qualifications worldwide which one can wiki.)

    so in a way, it would also have to "bump" a less popular sport out of the olympics, if my memory is correct.



    here's a couple links so we can clear up this joke about olympic sparring being point sparring.



    and answer this for me: how does someone so ignorant become a "top contributor" while others give such thoughtful, respectful, and well-researched answers?


    "not all Olympic tkd is even contact "? xD really? are they waving at each other? it's saturday night where I am, so I have to ask, what are you smoking?

    do you have any statistics or video to back this up? we'd sure like to see it if you do...

    you know, I used to be uncomfortable with ufc, but I got over it, especially when I actually took the time to WATCH for myself, which it's obvious you've never done.

    I'm going to do what you should--log off and go to bed.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I certainly don't want it to. Karate's key point is the bunkai in the various kata they do. With the amount of sport demands, karate is now becoming more of a punch, kick style that is weaker than Muay Thai or boxing. Grappling, applications, joint locks, and close quarter skills will be lost forever, well not forever but still..... Even if it's in the olympics, I doubt it would look any different to TKD. However, there is a proposal to make mma into the olympics though......if it can be shortened.

  • 9 years ago

    I had discussion surrounding this with my Sensei a while ago. He had talked with a national coach on the subject. Apparently the powers that be were considering to introduce helmets and/or chest guards into sport karate to make it more acceptable to the Olympic committee. I'm not sure how long that idea flew but anybody who knows karate will realize it wouldn't have been long before that idea was shot down!

    My opinion is that the rules and nature of sport TKD and sport Karate, whilst somewhat different, are too similar to both be in the Olympics. So Karate will likely only be in the Olympics if they can replace TKD.

    Source(s): karateka and the grape vine.
  • possum
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Wow, nice answers - especially samuraiwarrior. I can say that from working briefly with WTF (Taekwondo) organization folks that being in the Olympics is a double-edged sword. My guess is that the half who voted "yes" saw what happened to Judo and Taekwondo was positive. Most likely, these are business-oriented folks who saw $$ ahead of them. The other half who voted "no" saw what happened to Taekwondo (but which didn't happen to Judo).

    In many ways, Karate and Taekwondo are politically similar: each have many organizations who claim their way is legitimate; there is no standard for grading, promotion, sparring; there are always infighting amongst the fractures within each organization. Politically, each have rotten messes to clean up.

    Some look at Taekwondo and bemoan the loss of heritage (todays' Olympic taekwondo is nothing like it was 20 years ago) and don't want that to happen to Karate. Both Karate and Taekwondo suffer from their image of no longer being a viable self-defense system due to the prevalance of McDojos on every street corner and in every shopping mall. Add to that the watered down techniques for the sake of sport.

    Ask anyone where there is a legitimate Taekwondo school - some place that does not have contracts, a schedule of advancement, 8 year old black belts, and nothing but sports fighting. It's extremely hard to find. Ask any lay person what they think of when someone mentions "black belt". Many have no experience except through their kids who are in a school or who was invited at a birthday party.

    The fact that you have to be a black belt to be a competitor, judge, referee, or coach makes the black belt a necessary requisite for training. That means it can be bargained for - at a cost.

    The Karate camp who voted "no" don't want what happend to Taekwondo to happen to them, and understandably so. Karate and Taekwondo were once fighting systems. Someone somewhere got the idea to turn it all into a spectator sport. 30 years ago, I would have labelled either a "philosophy" and having no rights whatsoever to being in a sport arena.

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  • 9 years ago

    This is an ages-old question among Martial Arts enthusiasts. Basically, the problem is that the Olympic Committee only accepts one official association per sport per country. Karate does not have that, there are hundreds of different styles, plus thousands of associations. Any Karate sensei who disagrees with his peers can easily split and create a new association and a new style. It happens all the time.

    Even worse, once the "new" style is created, every teacher adds his/her own "flavor" to techniques (i.e., they are modified). Karate students from different styles can't even agree on how to perform the same kata.

    Add to that that many teachers despise sport karate...

    I think eventually just the biggest and more popular styles will be accepted in the Olympics, like Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and Wado-Ryo. The rest will remain out.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Boxing, freestyle wrestling, greco-roman wrestling, judo, fencing,

    and tae kwon do are in the Olympics. Pankration was a demo sport in the 2004 Olympics but did not get any traction.

    Attempts to get karate and sambo in have fallen on deaf ears because there is too much duplication of judo and tae kwon do. I thought I read somewhere that tae kwon do may be de-certified, anyway. That does not bode well for more martial art disciplines.

    I think another thing would be the lack of unified rules- do you want kickboxing, shidokan, kyokushin, tournament karate, PKA karate? What would be the interest in "karate kid" type of "tag" karate? Do you also foot sweeps and groin kicks? Too many objections.

  • Zarn
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    In 2005, in the 117th IOC (International Olympic Committee) voting, karate did not receive the necessary two thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport.

    Taekwondo is already an Olympic sport, as is Judo. Taekwondo became a full medal sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and has been a sport in the Olympic games since then.

  • Lex
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Honestly, I think it's because of the fact karate organizations devoted to getting it into the olympics cannot agree and work with one another to how the sport will be done. You ever see karate guys from different styles talk? They don't talk. They argue and belittle. You can't have it their way, then they aren't going to support it at all.

    That's just what I think.

    Source(s): Been around karate politics too long.
  • 9 years ago

    I"m sick to death of people like kokoro bashing things they don't even understand. Olympic TKD is very much full contact. People get knocked out and hurt all the time in it. Since when is it point sparring? Most dojangs teach self defense AND sparring. I can tell you having to defend getting your face broken is better than point sparring for self defense. As to why there is no karate, as some have stated they can't agree on a method. TKD is more legit than most forms of karate and I'm not even from TKD. I just get tired of people telling BS about other arts.

  • 9 years ago

    I was plugged into this at various times because of my involvement in competing in the AAU nationals for TKD in St. Louis in 76. I was one of only two non TKD competitors and if it had not been for the AAU representatives in attendance I would not have been allowed to compete by the Korean TKD officials.

    Back then all those that were on the Olympic Committee that represented TKD were Korean and they did everything they could to make sure that TKD stayed and that only TKD practitioners would compete. (Each sport has a group that represents that sport and makes suggestions, recommendations, and advises the Olympic Committee on that sport). It was not until the early 90s that some of those members were replaced with non Korean representatives and one of the first was a gentleman out of South America that a friend of mine knew and was going to visit. I had an offer to go with him as this gentleman was interested in how the Korean group had really stymied and limited as well as manipulated things. During this time frame Arlene Lamas had attempted to do and succeeded in qualifying for the US Olympic TKD team which is what I was trying to do in the 70s. They did everything they could to keep her from competing and she racked up 80K in legal expenses and fees fighting with them to allow her to keep her team spot and compete in the 88 Olympics. She of course won in court and went on later to compete and win a gold medal.

    This and some improprieties that some of those on the committee for that sport committed that involved funding, finances, and expenses during the later 90s along with some of these other aspects really made the Olympic Committee sit up and take notice of things concerning TKD and question if it should remain in the Olympics. Its status was a demonstration or trial sport which means that it is being considered and is on a trial basis for three Olympics. TKD has survived two go arounds now as far as that process and is not what you call a fully recognized sport and continues as a demonstration sport.

    Another aspect to all this is that karate back in the early and mid 70s when they were attempting to get into the Olympics could not agree on a standard set of rules, weight-classes, and other aspects. The number of styles, egos of the people involved, personal interests kept it from moving forward and being put into the Olympics while TKD which is a style in itself avoided a lot of that. So to some extent those involved in that process have to bare a lot of the blame.

    That has changed quite a lot over the years and now of course there has been a stronger movement to get karate added to the Olympics as a demonstration sport like TKD. I have some other friends that were and are quite active in this and one sits on the group and attended meetings with some representatives of the Olympic Committee in Morocco in 2005 concerning all this. Some other aspects to all this have also changed and there is no longer a 2/3 majority needed for a sport to be added into the Olympics but now just a simple majority. The last time karate came up it was six votes short of passage and that was in 2006 if I remember correctly. I doubt that will change either since the Olympic Committee is and has been considering doing away with TKD and why add another similar sport of the same nature given TKD's questionable future. One of the things that saved TKD from being voted out was that the Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea in 88 and host countries are allowed to have a sport as a demonstration sport included. That helped a lot to save it the first time and it was really close to be voted out and discontinued the second time and barley survived the second twelve year go around.

    I don't really see this changing much and karate being added given the questionable future of TKD and its continuation as only a trial or demonstration sport. My one friend that was at the 2005 meetings thinks that was their best chance and it failed in part as much because of that as anything else and that the two are so similar in nature it has no chance at all now.

    One other aspect to all this is that karate is in the World Games which to a lot of the rest of the world outside of the US is more prestigious than the Olympics while TKD is not. I qualified for the US team in 93 but was to old to compete internationally later that summer because they had changed the age rule and lowered it. So there is an opportunity for those in karate to compete internationally but because we are not talking about a major sport and also that it is the World Games it does not receive the same recognition in this country as in others.

    While TKD continues to be included in the Olympics it does not hold full sport status and its future continues to be a matter of question from time to time depending on a lot of other dynamics any combination of which could at some point bring about its demise.

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