Why karate should NOT be in the Olympics
1. Too many karate styles and tournament rule variations exist which makes alignment near impossible. Although WKF is the closest depiction of what Olympic karate should look like, itís still a small percentage of overall tournament types. In judo and freestyle/greco roman wrestling, for example, there is no confusion on style and rules since FILA governs them. Because of too many style types in karate, kata should NOT be in the Olympics if the sport is indeed instituted.
2. Karate tournaments are not full contact based but are instead point fighting, semi contact based, which makes them unattractive to watch. In my opinion, all Olympic combat sports should be full contact to display the will to win (heart), athleticism, and fierce competition. Imagine boxing at half power or a 100M sprint at half speed, people would mock them and lose interest. Current Olympic combat sports of judo, wrestling, and taekwondo are all in the Olympics for those reasons. If indeed you are to have full contact karate, there is no good representation of full contact karate sport in the world (kyokushin is just a bunch of kickboxers in GIs hitting each other to the body with no timing or karate fundamentals; & koshiki is just sloppy brawling with bubble masks). Therefore, the best approach would be to revamp WKF rules to allow for full contact point fighting. This would require significant changes to the rules with possible introduction of head and body gear. If anything, sambo deserves a slot as an Olympic combat sport over karate since they are already governed by FILA, is a very competitive sport worldwide, and very exciting to watch.
3. Winning at karate tournaments does not require the same level of skill and dedication as other combat sports currently in the Olympics. Wrestling, for example, requires one to typically take up the sport at a very early age (5 yrs old) to ever have a chance to be in a world class level. I can imagine a decent boxer with a few solid years experience walking in to a future full contact based WKF USA qualifier and dominating the competition. The competition in karate tournaments is just not nearly as fierce as in wrestling or judo and never will be. Yes, there are millions practicing, but for the most part the millions consist of kids, overweight people, and old people because karate is thought to be safe and easy. The golden 80s era of karate in the U.S. is over and athletic people in general donít take up karate these days. MMA and jiu-jitsu schools are on every corner on the west coast and a much more popular option than karate.
Overall, I think WKF did a decent job trying to standardize sport karate but karate as it is today is still not worthy of Olympic stature. My suggestion is to develop a full contact based version led by an international governing body to help spur interest. If that fails, we should just finally realize that karate is not in the Olympics for a reason.