WAKO or the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations is an international governing body for the sport of Kickboxing. It was founded in 1977 in Berlin, almost a year after the organization started its first activity in Europe. Back in 1978 when the first World Championship was held, the discipline was called semi and full contact karate. There were 110 competitors from 18 nations. Straight after the tournament WAKO began to create its own rules and regulations to set it apart as a new fighting sport that includes punches and kicks based on hand and leg techniques. The new term of Kickboxing was then adopted to define the sport. Since WAKO had become the authentic Kickboxing Federation, it has been working consistently to improve the image of the sport and to grow international interest and participation. It is a sport based on traditional Eastern martial arts and can be best described as a Western answer to the various combat sport disciplines. The Federation currently has over a hundred affiliated member nations.
Kickboxing can be best described as a stand-up combat sport that has been developed from karate with Japanese Kickboxing originating from the 1950s. It was from the 1970s that the American version was first developed. In addition to WAKO, other governing bodies have also been founded. These include the International Combat Organisation, World Kickboxing Association, International Sport Karate Organization, International Kickboxing Federation and the World Kickboxing Network. Each of these organizations will oversee their own competition and with that their own variation of the sport. Some allow the use of the knees and clinching, while some techniques are completed banned. The overall champions titles will also vary depending on the governing body overseeing the competition.