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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!!!!!!

  • December 2002

  • 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 appreciative audience.

    LV: Who inspired you the most which lead to your success today?

    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 men.

    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 their sport

    *Encouraging and Facilitating competition between athletes from around the world, thereby maintaining the integrity of the title "World 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 it's great.

    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 Arts).

    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.
    Build relationships.
    Avoid the three "C"s (criticizing, condemning and complaining).
    Take responsibility

    Give praise.

    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 acceptance.

    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 today?

    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 in 2003!)

    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 to be.

    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 below

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