This is an interview graciously
given to us at Karate Kidz Online.
Interview with International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA)
President Cory Schafer interviewed by Louis Velazquez.
I would like to take this
opportunity to thank Cory Schafer for agreeing to be interviewed
for Karate Kidz Online. He has begun to redefine Sport Karate and
how the tournaments are featured. His contribution to martial arts
in general is important because it gives opportunity to those
competitors that are talented and want to test their skills
against the best in the country. With The Olympic Committee on the
verge of including martial arts in the Olympics, it just opens the
door up for true martial arts competitors nationwide. So to all of
those competition oriented martial artist across the United
States, ISKA has their doors open for you. Cory Schafer is a great
person and I have to say that I am fortunate to know him, Thanks
again Cory, keep up the good work!!!!!!
LV: How did you get involved with promoting Martial
Arts and Kickboxing events?
CS: I began my martial arts training in 1976 in a program
that really encouraged participating in tournaments. My instructor
believed that it was an excellent way to test yourself and to
practice the skill of being your very best when it really matters.
In 1980, with a lot of competitive experience I helped produce the
first ever Florida State Karate Championships. I worked day and
night right up to the event and while also preparing to compete (I
remember falling asleep using my sparring gloves as a pillow between
kata and sparring competition). That same year I helped direct a
very small kickboxing event. I really enjoyed the excitement of
events, and the pride in seeing them run smoothly for an
LV: Who inspired you the most which lead to your
CS: My two primary senseis, Mike Sawyer and Mike McCoy are
most responsible for, even today, inspiring me to reach for
success. They are not just excellent instructors, but truly
remarkable men. I've been with them now for twenty-six years, and
can only hope to live up to their example as martial artist and as
LV: Can you tell us exactly what ISKA
is and what kind of an impact it has had on the Martial Arts
community? I am sure that there are many people aware of ISKA but
don't really have a full understanding of it and its impact on
Martial arts. There are too many misconceptions and different
views, maybe you can set the record straight for us today.
CS: The International Sport Karate Association (a.k.a.
International Sport Kickboxing Association) was founded in 1986 as
a regulatory and sanction body for competitive martial arts and
combat sports. The ISKA name and logo is recognized worldwide with
events being held on five continents and competitors being ranked
from fifty-four different countries. We currently regulate
competition and award title recognition in 24 different types of
martial arts and combative sports competitions. Since 1986 we have
helped maintain a high profile for our kickboxing competitors
through our highly rated television series on ESPN / ESPN2,
STRIKEFORCE: ISKA Kickboxing. The ISKA World Martial Arts
Championships, hosted at the annual US OPEN is also
internationally televised in 1/2 hour segments featuring Creative
and Power Breaking, Musical Weapons and Empty Hand Forms,
Demonstration Team, Synchronized Forms and Self Defense.
The ISKA KICKBOXING FOR FITNESS division serves to promote
kickboxing as a noncompetitive fitness vehicle for people of all
ages and athletic background. In doing so it's priorities are to
provide the media and the general public with accurate information /
safe training techniques and programs to achieve total body fitness.
Our most recent expansion is the ISKA MMA division, designed to
regulate and sanction both submission grappling and mixed martial
arts competitions. We are currently setting up a tour over grappling
tournaments that will culminate this years US OPEN as an ISKA
National Championship event. We're very glad that Frank Shamrock has
agreed to attend and support the event as well as host a three day
training camp prior to the tournament.
The ISKA continues to be committed to:
*Working with high profile promoters who are committed to elevating
*Encouraging and Facilitating competition between athletes from
around the world, thereby maintaining the integrity of the title
Increasing television coverage of competitive martial arts and
combative sports in an effort to provide our athletes with an
appropriate platform from which to demonstrate their remarkable
skills and earn the recognition that they so richly deserve.
LV: ISKA is one the largest and most influential Full
Contact and Martial Arts promotions in the United States, do you
have plans on expanding further or are you content?
CS: Content? We've only just begun!
LV: Your promotion has spawned some of the most
famous competitors in Kickboxing today, I know this is going to be
hard to do but can you tell us about your top 3 ISKA competitors?
CS: Sorry, that would be impossible - But I will mention a
few young, up and comer's and a few dominant champions and
apologize to the many worthy athletes who could be listed.
Full Contact Kickboxing: Tim Lane from New York and Erick Marshall
from Florida. Both of these guys are approaching the height of
their careers and will face each other early in 2003 for the World
Light Welterweight Title.
Muay Thai Fighter: Duane Ludwig from Denver, Colorado is the kind
of guy that a sport can be built around.
San Shou Kickboxing: When San Shou is good, it is VERY good, and
it's called Cung Le. We hope to sanction a world title attempt for
him in 2003.
Breaking: Mike Reeves, Larry Fields and Chip Townsend: Powerfull
Warriors with CLASS!
Demonstration Team: Sensei Okamoto's Team Alaska, Team Charlie Lee
and Team Intensity from Orlando - WOW! What a show!
Youth Forms and Weapons: Wayne Dalglish and Gemma Nyugen - (can
you say "unbelievable?")
LV: You have one Martial Arts event that is held at
Disney in Florida every year, this is considered to be the biggest
of them all here in the United States, Its televised on ESPN and
those that compete their are the top martial arts personalities in
competitive martial arts today, what is your ultimate goal with
the martial arts division of ISKA?
CS: I'm not a big believer in ultimate goals. Goals change
according to how the environment grows and changes. We would love
to see a weekly series featuring the many great weapons, empty
hand forms and unbelievably talented point fighting competitors
out there today. I believe that to be a worthy goal. I'd like to
see those martial arts receive rewards and recognition equal to
their talent and dedication.
LV: How do you feel about martial arts becoming part
of main stream America? has that helped ISKA?
CS: I view the situation more from the opposite
perspective. The ISKA intends to continue helping make martial
arts more accessible to the main stream of America. This is a
worthy contribution since at its' core, the study of the martial
arts relies on embracing positive qualities like respect,
responsibility, accountability, courtesy and self-discipline.
LV: What are your feelings on "Full Contact Fighting"
and how it exploded over the last few years? is the competition
between fighters more fierce now than it has been in the past ?
CS: If we define "Full Contact Fighting" literally, it has
been popular for decades through boxing and kickboxing. If you
mean Mixed Martial Arts (combining striking and grappling) I think
The athletes are technically skilled and superbly conditioned.
The rules have been developed and implemented to better insure
both safety and fairness. The fan base is huge and appreciative.
LV: With the big trend today in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
and Kickboxing, what effect do you think that has had on ISKA and
Full Contact fighting in general?
CS: I think that it's the job of regulatory and sanction
bodies to respond to the changes in the industry. Our mission is
to help promote ALL forms of competitive martial arts and
combative sports through maintaining our commitment to credibility
and uncompromising integrity. We stay focused on I.S.I.F.P.R.
(Improving Safety, Insuring Fairness, Providing Recognition)
LV: I know this is going to be hard as well, but what
are your views on the UFC and IFC-USA?
CS: That's not hard at all. I think that UFC has provided
the public with some remarkable entertainment. You could choose to
criticize them for their early shows being brutal (advertised as
NO RULES). I prefer to applaud them for helping break ground that
has led to the modern, safe and fair sport of MMA (Mixed Martial
IFC Promoter Howard Petshcler has been a tremendous contributor to
both kickboxing and mixed martial arts for almost two decades.
Paul Smith (previously IFC Commissioner) is now the director of
the ISKA MMA division. The ISKA has absorbed, in partnership the
regulatory, ratings and sanction functions of the IFC and all of
their fine officials around the country.
LV: Do you mind if we get a little personal?, Can you
tell us about your background and how you have become successful
and how your involvement in Sport Karate has changed your life?
CS: I'm 45 years old, am married with a two year old
daughter and a son due in May.
I've been studying karate, ju-jitsu and kickboxing for 26 years
and teaching professionally for almost 21 years.
How have I become successful? A few simple rules:
Don't promise what you can't deliver.
Do what you say you're going to do.
Avoid the three "C"s (criticizing, condemning and complaining).
Don't believe your own press
Stay focused on the BIG PICTURE
The biggest impact the sport karate has had on my life has been
through the opportunity to travel to countless countries around the
world. It forces you to recognizes how much we are all alike. Though
we speak different languages, eat different foods and salute
different flags, people, as individuals have the same needs, desires
and hopes the world over.
LV: Where do you see Sport Karate in the coming years?
CS: Onward and upward! The key is expanded television
coverage - which yields better sponsorship and greater public
LV: You have been featured in publications worldwide,
numerous television/radio appearances, do you have any plans on
releasing a book in the future?
CS: I love to write, but unfortunately I can't carve out as
much time for it as I would like.
Actually I'm working on three separate books. One is a question and
answer book addressing some of the common experiences in the pursuit
of studying a martial art.
Another is a book about what it takes, beyond technical skill, to
be successful in combative sports. And finally I'm working on a book
that I hope to call "10 Truths for the Common Man". Sort of a guide
to living better for regular guys based on what I've learned from
training in the martial arts.
LV: What are your feelings on young martial artist
CS: The young martial artists today, as in generations
past, are a reflection of their leadership. Good martial artists
come from good parents and good teachers. Many have great skills,
but that does not make them a great artist. The "art" in Martial
Arts is the art of living; using what you've learned from the
struggle to improve your skills to understand how to live a
happier, healthier and more productive life. Many parents and
teachers are doing a wonderful job, and that's why there are so
many fine young martial arts.
LV: How many events do you promote a year? and which
are the major ones?
CS: The ISKA does not promote events, it sanctions and
regulates events, rates competitors and recognizes champions.
LV: How can people find out about upcoming
events,ticket information and autograph signings?
CS: Our website is
www.iska.com (be looking for a newly designed site early
LV: And Lastly, Do you have any advice for the martial
artist reading this interview?
CS: Give great thought to what kind of person that you want
Make a decision.
Always, ALWAYS act consistent with that decision
Cory Thank you once again for giving us great insight into ISKA
and your views on the state of Martial Arts today.
To find out more about ISKA and their sanctioned events for to
www.iska.com or just scroll