This is the last Newsletter for this year. I returned back to Japan from India, my last overseas trip of the year. The Christmas songs I hear in various places, remind me that the year is about to end. I am sure that all of you are also busy with year-end activities in your country and region.
I have received a report of the great performance achieved by the WKO team, represented by WKO Vice President Koen Scharrenberg and competitors from Europe and other countries/regions, at the recent World Championship organized by the Kyokushin World Union (KWU). I would like to express my sincere appreciation and respect to the close cooperation and unity demonstrated by the competitors, coaches, and referees that represented WKO. Since it was a tournament organized by a non-WKO organization, there may have been things you were not used to, but you believed in yourself and fought with honor until the end. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the Co-Chairmen of KWU, for providing us with such great opportunity for exchange and mutual development through competition, and my respect to all who supported the organizing of the event. Thank you.
When looking back at this year, the first thing I remember is the beautiful landscape of Kazakhstan, where we all gathered for the 6th World Karate Championship in Weight Categories held in July. The high-level battles between the top competitors of each region, and the fruitful meetings where we had serious discussions for the future of our organization. The great food we enjoyed together, the seminar trainings where we were able to focus on Karate in a beautiful area full of nature and away from the city. The casual conversations and smiles during our time together. I can still remember everything very clearly. However, we unfortunately lost our dear friend, Branch Chief Karmazin, who passed away so suddenly after attending the event in Kazakhstan. I am sure that he is continuing his training in heaven, in his dogi, with strong kiai.
I am grateful for all of the invitations I received this year, and I tried my best to coordinate my schedule to realize various visits, and I have great memories from the fruitful time we enjoyed together. I sincerely appreciate the warm hospitality and welcome I received in each country. As WKO, with our recent welcoming of Branch Chief Magdeleine from Reunion, we have increased our membership to become an international organization with 95 affiliated countries and regions. Our goal to reach 100 is just around the corner.
In recent years, due to the leadership of Board Member Sujoto, the Asia Region has developed at a remarkable pace. The rapid development of India has been a symbolic example of such trend, and the members have great energy. This was the first time for me to visit India after the establishment of the new country organization, but by seeing the gathering of Karateka from various organizations at the tournament and seminar organized by Country Representative Asharaf Abdul Shukoor, I gained great confidence in the steady enlargement of the organization.
The related members of WKO have continued efforts in close cooperation for the enlargement of the organization. Significant effort is made so that the enlargement is not for any specific purpose, and that the organization is expanded by friends coming together naturally. We have continued our efforts in a sincere manner, so that we ourselves can expand and grow, along with the development and enlargement of the organization. To be honest and straightforward towards everything. To not deviate from our set goal, and to be fair and square. While prioritizing friends and relationships, we have continued our path with a development-oriented loyalty towards the teachings of Sosai Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate. Let us continue our daily training, and with that as our base, strive to develop and grow even more, as an organization and as a person.
From next year, the Full Contact Karate competition, which we believe and follow with strong passion, will enter the main phase of world development. As was announced earlier, the 1st International Fullcontact Karate Championship will be held in Osaka in May 2018. This will be followed by the 12th World Open Karate Championship in 2019, and the 1st World Fullcontact Karate Championship in 2020. We aim to take the leading role within Full Contact Karate at the world level as well, and wish to take big steps to accomplish the worldwide standardization of the Full Contact Karate competition, which is quite original and unique within Karate.
In such context, I hope for many competitors to participate in the international event next May, while considering the unique conditions and situation of each region. This is not only for the competitors, but the participation of Branch Chiefs as referees, the key members of various countries and regions for the detailed organizational matters, so that many will gather for the event in Osaka. This is the first step for the world in the standardization of the Full Contact Karate competition, and will be a great chance to demonstrate and promote the uniqueness and worldwide enlargement of it to the Karate world, and international federations (IF) of other sports as well. In order to realize this goal, I kindly ask for the participation of all members related to Full Contact Karate.
Lastly, I wish for all of us to take steady and straightforward steps toward the future, in cooperation with various Full Contact Karate organizations, while maintaining a good balance between the worldwide trend to standardize the Full Contact Karate competition, and the WKO identity to strive to become the strongest and largest Budo organization.
In closing, I would like to express my appreciation towards all of your kind cooperation and efforts throughout the year, and I sincerely hope that 2018 will be a year full of smiles and good health for you. Thank you for everything, and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.