2003 - 1st World Kempo Championships. Zingg and Kellerman win Gold Medals in 1st World Kempo Championships
West Virginia residents Robert Zingg and Tyson Kellerman won Gold Medals in the World Kempo Championships held in Bucharest, Romania October 3-5, 2003. Robert Zingg, 48, who is the owner and chief instructor of Zingg's Karate Center of Charles Town and Tyson Kellerman, 17, a senior at Martinsburg Christian Academy, were members of the United States Kempo Team. The team competed in the international event, which was sponsored by the International Kempo Federation, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. The United States team consisted of 11 competitors and 1 coach, hailing from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Mr. Zingg teaches Karate, Kempo, Ju-jutsu, and Weapons at his school to adults and children living in the Eastern Panhandle. Kempo is a Martial Art similar to Karate only much older. Kempo fighters perform much like Karate fighters with kicking and punching, except that Kempo allows grappling, throws, takedowns, chokes, holds, joint locks and fighting on the ground. A fighter wins by knockout, submission, or total points accumulated. The fighting is broken down into 3 categories, "Light-Contact", "Full-Contact", and "Knockdown". "Knockdown" is a full-contact fighting style that does not use protective gloves or coverings for the hands or head. It is understandably brutal and is practiced by a much smaller number of specially trained fighters. "Full-contact" fighting is what the name implies, there is full-force kicking and punching designed to knock your opponent out, with the fighters still wearing protective gloves and headgear. "Light-contact" is similar to what is practiced in the US, with light contact to the head, moderate contact to the body and the fighters wearing protective gloves and headgear. Kempo is practiced in almost every country in the world, with the World Kempo Championships being held every two years. The International Kempo Federation, or IKF, is very active in eastern and western Europe, Africa and Asia. This is the first time the United States has entered the competition. The US team won a total of 3 Gold medals, 2 Silvers, and 16 Bronzes during the competition, enough to win 3rd place in overall medals won. This was quite an accomplishment considering the US team only had 11 members. The Romanian and Hungarian teams came away with 1st and 2nd respectively, but they had much larger teams. The Romanians had 114 members on their team and the Hungarians had about 50 members. The Official Results of the Competing Nations is calculated using the Olympic Model. A Gold medal is considered 3 points , Silver medal is considered 2 points and Bronze medal is considered 1 point . For each nation participating to the World Kempo Championship 2003 we calculate the amount of points earned and then we divide the total points to the number of each nation's competitors. The Olympic rules for calculating the official results of Nations, Overall Team Cup, gives equal chances to each country. So, it is not important the number (quantity) of medals earned by each country, but it is important the balance between the number of points earned and the number of competitors (the quality of medals). In this way, a team composed of only 7 competitors has the same chances to win as a team composed of 100 competitors. In the Competition of Nations, Overall Team Cup, only teams with a minimum 7-10 competitors were considered. Nation results: 1-st Place : Romania Kempo Sport (LC,FC,KD) Gold medals: 47 (47*3 points=141 points) -Kempo Sport (LC,FC,KD) Silver medals: 40 (40*2 points=80 points) -Kempo Sport (LC,FC,KD) Bronze medals: 45 (45*1 point=45 points) -Kata Gold medals: 7 (7*3 points=21 points) -Kata Silver medals: 6 (6*2 points=12 points) -Kata Bronze medals: 5 (5*1 point=5 points) -Weapon kata Gold medals: 0 (0 points) -Weapon kata Silver medals: 0 (0 points) -Weapon kata Bronze medals 0 (0 points) -Self defence Gold medals: 2 (2*3 points=6 points) -Self defence Silver medals: 4 (4*2 points=8 points) -Self defence Bronze medals: 0 (0 points) -Total points : 318 points -Numbers of competitors : 114 -Final Result : 318 points / 114 competitors = 2.79 points/competitor 2-nd Place : Hungary -Final Result : 2.30 points/competitor 3-rd Place : U.S.A. -Final Result : 2.25 points/competitor 4-th Place : Netherland -Final Result : 1.45 points/competitor 5-th Place : Belgium -Final Result : 0.78 points/competitor 6-th Place : France -Final Result : 0.43 points/competitor 7-th Place : Germany (5 competitors) -Final Result : 1.40 points/competitor West Virginia representatives Robert Zingg, who is the owner and chief instructor of Zingg's Karate Center of Charles Town, and Tyson Kellerman, who is one of Zingg's top students, did very well in the competition. On the first day of the tournament Zingg and Kellerman won the first US Gold Medal with a 1st place win in the 2-person Self-Defense competition. They performed a complicated and dangerous 2-man weapon fighting routine, using real martial arts weapons. Their performance outshined the teams from Romania, Hungary, Germany, Morocco, Switzerland, Belgium, France, and The Netherlands. Tyson then took home a Bronze Medal in his Weapons Forms division while Zingg garnered a Bronze in the Senior Men's Forms division. The next day, in the fighting divisions, Tyson won the Gold Medal in the 16 & 17 year olds Full-Contact Fighting category after a series of extremely tough matches against some of the best Kempo fighters his age in the world. The matches were full of international rivalries, intrigue, and national pride as the fighters battled each other for victory, honor, and respect. The win gave Tyson the right to the title of World Champion - Full-Contact. Then, not to rest on his laurels, Tyson competed in the brutal Knockdown fighting division for 16 & 17 year olds where he won the Bronze Medal after several hard-fought matches. Tyson had this to say about his victories "The competition here is a lot tougher than I expected. The fighters from Romania and Hungary are very good. I'm pretty sore from all of the fighting but I was real proud to represent the United States, West Virginia and my Karate School in international competition. I can't wait til we go to the Pan-American Kempo Championship Tournament in 2004, and then to the next World Kempo Championships in 2005 in Switzerland" Ray Ferrell, the US coach and Pan-American Representative for the IKF, from Charlotte, NC said "This was our first effort at international competition for the US Kempo Team. We are looking toward to putting together a much larger team for the 2004 and 2005 season. Many of our members had not competed on that level before and it was a real eye opener. We did a great job with the medals that we won, only having 11 members, but it fired us up to make a better showing next time and to let the world know that the United States is a powerhouse in Kempo competition." Mr. Zingg had this to say about Tyson, "Tyson worked his butt off for this tournament and it paid off. I'm sure there were some things he wished he could have done better, but I'm very proud of him. Two Gold medals and two Bronze medals is nothing to sneeze at. Next time, though, he will be competing in the full adult division. He will have turned 18 and the competition will be even tougher, but I know he is up for it." So the team trains on. Blood, sweat, and tears. No guts no glory. They have heard them all and they keep training. If you would like more information about the US Kempo Team you may contact Robert Zingg at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the US Kempo Team's Official webpage: www.uskempoteam.org
2005 - 2nd World Kempo Championships
USA vs Romania
2007 - World Kempo Championships
2008 Hungary Camp
2008 WORLD KEMPO CHAMPIONSHIPS
Portugal Robert Zingg, 52, of Harper’s Ferry, WV, with fellow West Virginians Tyson Kellerman, 21, of Martinsburg and Eric Rozich, 16, of Charles Town, along with Brian Duffy, 55, of Austin, TX, Greg Duke, 37, of Ft. Worth, TX and Ray Gilbert, 38, of Joplin, MO, made up the entire United States Kempo Team which participated in the World Kempo Championship Tournament (WKC) in Faro, Portugal. Kempo is a martial art similar to modern Karate in many ways, though much older. It is also akin to the grappling arts of Ju-jutsu, Judo and Wrestling. The techniques of Kempo cross the boundaries of the striking and grappling arts in a natural blend of styles and techniques. Zingg, Kellerman, and Rozich practice the Toraken-ryu style of Kempo from Japan and the Tozan-ryu Kempo style from Okinawa. Duffy, Gilbert and Duke practice the Ed Parker American Kenpo System. [Various schools use either the ‘n’ or ‘m’ spelling of the word “Kempo” according to their traditions]. Mr. Duffy has a martial arts school in Austin, TX and Gilbert and Duke are his students. Mr. Gilbert owns a martial arts studio in Joplin, Mo., while Mr. Duke is a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Ft. Worth, TX. Kellerman and Rozich are students of Mr. Zingg, Kellerman having trained with Mr. Zingg since he was 6 years old. Mr. Kellerman attends Shepherd University and Mr. Rozich attends Jefferson High School. Duffy and Gilbert are veterans of the 2007 World Championships, while Mr. Kellerman was a member of the 2003 US Kempo Team along with Mr. Zingg. The tiny US Team went head-to-head with some of the best and largest Kempo Teams in the world, and achieved the 3rd Place Overall Team Cup. The US Team consists of members from across the United States from many different Kempo schools and organizations. All styles of Kempo are welcome to tryout and join the team. This year the US Team won a total of 8 Gold, 6 Silver, and 12 Bronze Medals in Individual and Team events. In the 3 prior World Championships the US Team won 15 Gold, 12 Silver, and 20 Bronze Medals. With this year’s effort, it brings the US Teams totals to 23 Gold, 18 Silver, and 32 Bronze Medals. Many of the other teams competing in the tournament were considerably larger than the United States Team. The Romanian Team, which won first place overall, consisted of 60 team members. The second place team, Portugal, consisted of 45 members. The United States Team consisted of only six members and achieved third place overall, quite an accomplishment. The World Championship tournament is divided into two sections; “Traditional Divisions” and “Full-contact Sport Fighting”. Traditional Divisions include the Forms and Weapon Forms categories, which are choreographed solo or team fight sequences reminiscent of the floor exercises in gymnastics. Many of these Traditional Forms are hundreds of years old and are practiced in martial arts schools throughout the world. Empty Hand Self-Defense, Weapon Self-Defense, and Full-Contact Weapon Fighting, make up the rest of the Traditional categories. The Sport Fighting Division is divided into 5 separate fighting styles, each with their particular rules and styles of combat; 1) Semi-Contact Kempo, a light, touch-point system, emphasizing speed and accuracy, 2) K-1 Kempo, stand-up only, full-contact kickboxing where no grappling is allowed, 3) Full-Contact Kempo – full-contact kickboxing with grappling, using boxing gloves, 4) Knockdown Kempo – bare knuckle full-contact kickboxing with grappling, similar to the popular MMA (mixed martial arts) contests being held throughout the US. 5) Submission Kempo - a grappling only style of fighting where the fighter wins by choking, or applying locks and holds on his opponent in order to force him to submit. The US Team won 3rd Place Team Honors in the Traditional Events, behind Bulgaria who took 2nd and Romania who won the top spot at 1stplace. The US Team finished 5th in the Sport Fighting Team Awards behind Portugal and Algeria, tied for 4th, France in 3rd, Romania in 2ndand Russia in 1st place. When the Combined Scores of the Traditional and Sport Fighting Divisions were added together for the Overall Team Awards, Romania won 1stplace, Portugal, 2nd and the United States, 3rd. The WKC originally was held every two years, however, due to Kempo’s increased popularity, starting this year the WKC will be held every year. Mr. Zingg, the United States Team Leader, said “It was very gratifying to have the US Team do so well, as we [the US Kempo Team] had tremendous hardships to overcome in order to put a team together. Some of the other nation’s teams are partially funded by their respective governments, through their Ministry of Sport, for example. Unfortunately for the US Kempo Team, our team members have to pay their own travel expenses to the World Championships at the present time, as sponsorships are difficult to come by. This is one of the reasons why the US Team is so much smaller than many of our European counterparts. Hopefully, with our team’s strong showing here in Faro, we will be able to field a larger and even stronger team at next year’s tournament in Nice [France].”
Mr. Zingg also said that team members who had planned to attend, but could not for various reasons, hailed from all over the Continental United States as well as Hawaii. If all had gone as planned no fewer than 25 members, from more than 12 states would have competed. Potential members coming from as far away as Hawaii, California, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Maryland, New York, West Virginia and Virginia, had planned on attending. Mr. Zingg, who won 3 Bronze Medals this year, was not even scheduled to participate. He had planned to retire from the competition to allow other up and coming team members to participate more fully, and had planned to concentrate on coaching, but due to members dropping out he stepped up and filled in their places. He is a veteran of the previous 3 events and has won a total of 8 Gold, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze medals in the World Championships. The other team members this year also stepped up and registered for extra events to increase the US Teams presence in the Championships. Besides Mr. Zingg’s 1 Individual and 2 Team Bronze medals, Mr. Duffy won 4 Silver and 1 Bronze Individual medals, as well as 1Gold and 2 Bronze Team medals. Mr. Gilbert won 5 Gold and 1 Bronze Individual medals, and 1Gold and 1 Team Bronze medals. Mr. Duke won 2 Gold and 3 Bronze Individual medals and 1Gold and 2 Bronze Team medals. Mr. Kellerman won 2 Individual Silver medals and 1Team Bronze medal, and Mr. Rozich won 3 Individual Bronze medals. This was Mr. Rozich’s first ever martial arts tournament, he says he was a bit nervous about it, “Having the World Championships be the first martial arts tournament I have ever competed in was a bit un-nerving, but I figured if nothing else, I would learn a great deal. Boy, did I learn, I was up against some really tough, experienced fighters and I am all fired up to come back next year. I can’t wait to get back home and start training”. This is the US Team’s 4th trip to the World Championships and in each of the previous events the US has had small teams, ranging in size from 4 to 11 members. Some European teams like Romania and Hungary typically have as many as 75 –100 members. France, Russia, The Netherlands, Slovakia, and Portugal usually have teams in the 25 – 40 range. Other countries are similar. The US Team is currently solely supported by its members, their family and friends. Mr. Zingg said that the level of competition has been increasing greatly in each subsequent World Championship. The teams of Russia, Romania, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia are very powerful and have many of the best Kempo fighters in the world. The US has many equally qualified Kempo fighters but due to the lack of sponsorships it is difficult to get potential members on the team. The next World Kempo Championship Tournament is being held at the end of April 2009, in Nice, France. Despite their small size this year, Mr. Zingg is confident the USA can put together a team of over 50 members for the next World Championship, “After all,” he says, “when Americans put their minds to something, it happens.” For more information about the US Kempo Team please visit www.uskempoteam.org. Robert Zingg Zingg's Karate Center 111 W 2nd Ave, Suite B Ranson, WV 25438 USA 304-725-3639
2009 WORLD KEMPO CHAMPIONSHIPS
Romania The USA won the 2nd Place Overall Team Cup and the 3rd Place Overall Traditional Events Team cup at the 2009 World Kempo Championship Tournament in Bucharest, Romania Oct. 26-31, 2009. This is the highest place the US has won in the tournament with two previous 3rd place finishes, in 2003 and last year in 2008. The final tally was seven Gold, eight Silver, and twelve Bronze medals. This year marks a turning point in US Team history by having everyone on the team medal for the third straight year. Another historic marker is the election on Master Jeff Speakman as the new International Kempo Federation President. Mr. Speakman is the founder of the Jeff Speakman KENPO 5.0 System and has stared in martial arts action movies, such as"The Perfect Weapon". Is it KEMPO or KENPO? This is a conundrum in many martial arts circles about the various spelling of the of the name of our art. Talk to ten people and you will probably get ten different reasons why it is spelled either way, however, Mr. Speakman doesn't think it will pose much of a problem. "I think we can come up with a new IKF logo that reflects both versions of the spelling of the word, and as a result of the graphic imagery, it can aappear to be spelled either way depending on how you look at it and what you are looking for". Mr. Robert Zingg, the US Team Leader, and Mr. Speakman, are both looking forward to a tremendous team for next year. the site has not yet been chosen, but plans are underway for a very large US appearance at the 2010 World Kempo Championship Tournament. Anyone who might be interested in being part of the 2010 US Kempo Team, please contact Mr. Zingg, at email@example.com, or by calling 304-725-3639. The mailing address for the United States Kempo Team is 111 W. 2nd Avenue, Suite B, Ranson, WV, 25438. Results! Traditional Events Mens Senior Forms - 18-35 years old. Colin Duffy- Bronze Mens Senior Weapon Forms - 18-35 years old Colin Duffy - Bronze Mens Senior Masters Forms - 36 and over Brian Duffy - Bronze Mens Senior Masters Weapons forms - 36 and over Robert Zingg - Bronze Mens Senior Empty-hand Self Defense - 18 - 35 years old Dan Pribble and Anto Parseghian - Silver Colin Duffy and Corey Hughes - Bronze Mens Senior Weapons Self-defens - 18 - 35 years old Colin Duffy and Corey Hughes - Gold Mens Senior Masters Empty-hand Self Defense - 36 & over Robert Zingg and Ray Gilbert - Silver Brian Duffy and Colin Duffy - Bronze Mens Senior Masters Weapons Self Defense - 36 and over Robert Zingg and Ray Gilbert - Silver Brian Duffy and Colin Duffy - Bronze Mens Senior Masters Open Self Defense - 4 man - 36 & over Robert Zingg, Brian Duffy, Ray Gilbert, Malford Jeter - Bronze Gladiator - Padded Weapon Fighting Mens Senior 18 - 35 years old Colin Duffy - Bronze Mens Senior Masters - 36 and over Robert Zingg - Silver Malford Jeter - Bronze Overall Traditional Events Team Cup 1st Place The Netherlands 2nd Place Romania 3rd Place USA
***************************************************************************** Fighting Events Semi-contact Mens Senior 18-35 years old -85 kgs - Colin Duffy - Silver -60 kgs - Corey Hughes - Bronze Mens Senior Masters 36 and over -87.5 kgs - Brian Duffy - Silver +95 kgs - Ray Gilbert - Gold Full-contact Kempo Mens Senior Masters 36 and over -70 kgs - Malford Jeter - Gold +95 kgs - Ray Gilbert - Silver Knockdown Kempo Mens Senior Masters 36 and over -70 kgs - Malford Jeter - Gold +95 kgs - Ray Gilbert - Gold K-1 Kempo Mens Senior Masters 36 and over -70 kgs - Malford Jeter - Silver +95 kgs - Ray Gilbert - Gold Submission Kempo Mens Senior 18 - 35 years old -85 kgs - Dan Pribble - Bronze Mens Senior Masters 36 and over +95 kgs - Ray Gilbert - Gold Overall Team Cup 1st place - Romania 2nd place - USA 3rd Place - The Netherlands Not bad for a team of only 8 guys!
2011 WORLD KEMPO CHAMPIONSHIPS
Russia Despite the hardships of trying to get a US Kempo Team together on short notice, and the fact that people must deal with their "real" life, The US Kempo Team was able to participate in the 2011 World Kempo Championship Tournament in Saint Petersburg, Russia, this past May 22-26, 2011. A Team Of "One", was our theme this year...mostly because we only had one member on the team this year, me, Shihan Robert Zingg, of Ranson, West Virginia, the US Kempo Team Leader. I was the only person who was able to pull it all together and make this years tournament. Much of the hardship and trouble we have experienced this year has been due to the down economy and the short notice we received on the timing of this year's competition. Preliminary notice was given in mid January 2011 that the tournament would be held in mid-May the same year, and not until mid-February did I receive the exact itinerary and travel information from the tournament host. Needless to say, mid-February to mid-May is not a lot of time to recruit team members and make travel plans for the everyday Americans that make up our team. We all have regular jobs and need to make proper arrangements with our employers to take the time off, raise travel expenses, organize someone to take over the training at the dojos, etc,. And unfortunately, some of our team members are unemployed, or newly employed, which puts a special burden on them. Additionally, sponsorships have been especially difficult to come by, and the donations from the local Mom and Pop stores that make up a large portion of any individual team member or general team fund raising did not materialize this year. Everyone was keeping their money close to their vests this year. I got lots of offers to wear a potential sponsors t-shirts or board shorts with their logo on them, (for just the t-shirt mind you, no additional monetary donation), and when I explained that I actually needed real "money" to purchase airline tickets, hotel rooms, and food, for my fighters I got a: "We have already spent our sponsorship allowance for this year" response. So, I, Shihan Rob Zingg, took the plunge and made the trip alone to keep a US presence in the World Championships. I arrived a few days early, as usual, thinking all the teams would be arriving early, like always, in order to conduct the normal board meetings and rules committee meeting, etc.., however, I discovered upon my arrival no other team was due to arrive for 2 more days! So, I went sightseeing! Saint Petersburg is a wonderful and beautiful city full of amazing art and architecture. The adventure of using a foreign cities subway and bus system, and trying to decipher maps and signs in Cyrillic, proved challenging, but not insurmountable. After a day or two, some of the teams started arriving and I started renewing acquaintances with old friends from Tunisia and Algeria, unfortunately they don't speak a whole lot of English and my Arabic and French are non-existent. But, with a lot of gesturing, talking loudly to each other, and laughing hysterically, we managed to communicate OK. Finally, my old friend from the Netherlands, Cody Duyster, arrived (and he speaks excellent English), so I finally had a buddy to pal around with until the event got started. I lamented the fact that I only studied Spanish in high school! As the competition got started I came up with two Silver medals right away in Men's Senior Masters Kata and Weapons Kata. I came up short against my old rival Shihan Velin Hadjolov of Bulgaria. The last time I won against Shihan Hadjolov was in Weapons in 2007 in Budapest, Hungary. Since then, Shihan Hadjolov has been able to win out over me each time we have gone against each other, with me either winning the Silver or Bronze to him. It is a friendly rivalry and I made a friendly promise to Shihan Hadjolov the NEXT time I would beat him. We both a had a good laugh and then shook hands. After Shihan Hadjolov's victory he said he would welcome the challenge from me again in the future. I asked my friend Shihan Duyster for advice on how to beat him nextyear, as i can never seem to get the few hundredths of a point that seprates us. He told me that they best way for me to win was to lose 10 or 15 years! HA! Pounds I could do, but years? Oh well, I just need to work harder.
Shihan Robert Zingg Results: Senior Masters Division - 36 years old and over
Turkey Results for 2012 World Kempo Championships Robert Zingg. Shihan, 6th Dan Senior Masters Division - 36 years and older 3rd Place Bronze: Weapon kata 3rd Place Bronze: K1-Full-contact Kickboxing 3rd Place Bronze: Full-contact Knock Down Fighting 3rd Place Bronze: Mixed Kempo Full-contact Kickboxing 3rd Place Bronze: Semi-contact Fighting Seems Like Bronze was my color this year! : )
They say history often repeats itself.... Well it did again this year at the 2012 World Kempo Championships inAntalya, Turkey, when Shihan Robert Zingg, the Team Leader for The US Kempo Team was, again, the only American competiting in this years World Kempo Championships.
The road to just getting there... Many factors, just like last year. led to this unfortunate circumstance; not the least, international events and injuries. A few months prior to this years event we had about 20-25 individuals and groups from various dojos around the country that were primed and ready to go, several had even purchased their airline tickets well in advance to catch the savings of early booking. Things were looking up for the US Team this year, as we had been having difficulty getting interest up for the team, as well as team members who were able to raise their traveling expesnes in time.
Unfortunately the major factor in this years US Team were some tragic and unforseen international incidents that played a huge factor on members descision to participatethis year. Earlier in the year there was the incident in Afghanistan where an American service man went crazy and went on a shooting spree in a local village and killed a bunch of innocent people. Then there was the international outcry and backlash against America and Americans worldwide, as well as protests and demonstrations against Americans that were widely televised here in the US. A few weeks later there was again widespread media coverage about a report that Iran had sent out "hit squads" that were targeting westerners; especially Americans all over Europe, and specifically Turkey. Great, just what we need, a media blitz about terrorists targeting Americans who are traveling to the specific country where we are holding the World Kempo Championships! Despite the assurances I received from the IKF leadership and the Turkish government, as well as the local police in Antalya, many team members just did not feel comfortable traveling to Turkey under these circumstances. Soon after these media announcements, I started recieving phone calls from members who made the discision that this level of potential threat was more than they felt comfortable with and decided to withdraw from this years competition until things settled down. It didn't have anything to do specifically with the competition being held in Turkey, but the threats from outside forces against Americans in general, changed their minds for this year. With the members who stepped aside for this year, and those who were not able to raise their traveling funds, I was left with about 5 or 6 members besides myself that were still committed to going. Tragically, one group had a death in the family earlier in the year and found it too difficult to manage the new family dynamics, run their karate school, and attend the tournament this year. However, they are stawart supporters, just like everyone else, and have committed to going next year One of my new members from California, had a unique opportunity drop into his lap. One of the sales reps in his company quit, so they divided her territory between him and another person, which means he picked up Hawaii as his sales territory, and he gets to visit there several times a month...nice work if you can find it. Unfortunately, it meant a huge shift in his work schdule and he was unable to work out the time off to go to Turkey with us. Again, like the others he has vowed to go next year. So this left me with 2 other members and me going for the WKC. We are now at this point about 3 weeks away from flying out, and my new member from Texas and my new member from Tennessee, are the only other guys going with me. I called them and appraised them of the situation (everyone had been involved in a frantice texting, phone call, and email communication blitz to figure out who was comfortable going and who was not) and they both assured me they were 100% committed and we would have a Three Muskateers (or Three Stooges) time at the events, despite all of the hoop-la about it. Two days later I got a call from my team member in Texas who told me he had just injured himself in ju-jutsu class, was in the hospital with a groin pull that the docters thought was a groin hernia. OUCH! Turned out the docters were right and my Texas team member had to drop out. This was quite a blow, as he had been one of my most enthusiastic team members, and had been working on getting on the team for 2 years. I then called my last remaining team member in Tennessee and let him know, we talked quite a bit and he cheered me up saying that at least we had doubled the size of last years team! We left off our conversation saying that we would make the best of it and have a blast together. We had done some training together in the past and I have known him for a few years. We had already booked our tickets and we were both leaving out of Dulles Airport, about 45 minutes from my house. He has family in this area and was planning to come up for a visit, then go with me to Turkey. We had booked seats next to each other so we could plan and plan on the way over, especially for the self-defense events. I could also give him tips on how to do the full-contact events,as they were going to be new to him. Two days after our conversation I received a call at my dojo from my friend and the first words out of his mouth were: "Sensei, I hate to make this phone call." At this point my heart sank, and I asked him what was the matter. The day before he had broken his ankle in ju-jutsu class by making a wrong turn on an escape and landing awkwardly on his foot. He had heard the "snap" and felt the pain, but had hoped it was just a light sprain. The doctors at first thought it might be a light sprain, but upon further investigation, they found he had completely ruptured some tendons and was not going to be able to walk for 6 weeks. He told his doctors that 6 weeks was not on his time table, but they just smiled and said "too bad", you have to give it this much time, and you may still need an operation. Needless to say we were both extremely heart broken, and I had to go alone again to another WKC. While in Turkey, I took quite a bit of ribbing that I was alone again this year. Most everyone was sympathetic and most of the joking was good natured, but some was not so good natured, as some country leaders and team members felt that I was not working hard enough to get a team to the event. Many small countries had 20 or more team members, and many larger countries had 30 or more, and I had only me. The mighty USA was only able to bring one member! Needless to say, I was embarrassed, but not cowed. When talking with some of these team members, they admitted that their governments sponsored their teams and paid their way. Some countries paid all their expenses, some only a portion, however; there were other teams who were like the USA and received no funding from their government, and their teams either raised private funds, or paid their own way. I had to remind some of my detractors that the USA had no such luxury of any government sponsorship. Most understood, but many could not fathom the idea the the mighty USA could not come up with a huge team, our country was so rich compared to theirs or others, why was money a problem? Our discussions were good natured and friendly, but they just did not have the depth of international issues to grasp how it works in the US, sometimes I don't either. Fortunately, I was able to talk quite a bit with Master Jeff Speakman, who is the IKF President, and Master Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, and got committments from them to help form a team for the 2013 WKC with perhaps 75 to 100 members. It is a reasonable goal to shoot for, high yes, but with the resources we have in the USA, very reasonable. We just need to get a number of quality clubs and individual fighters to commit to the event. Despite these small quibbles, I was treated very well, no one gave me a hard time for being an American, and many people wanted their photo taken with me. One of the poudest moments was with the Team Leader of the Afghanistan Team, (photo above) who specifically wanted to take a photo with me in order to demonstrate the solidarity between his people in Afghanistan and the people of the USA. All in all, I had a great time, won some cool medals and had great visits with old friends, and made a bunch of new ones. Next year the competition will be VERY different. It’s Déjà Vu… ...all over again! Yogi Berra’s famous quotation seemed extraordinarily appropriate as local martial arts instructor, Robert Zingg, owner of Zingg’s Karate Center in Ranson, arrived in Antalya, Turkey, this summer, as the lone United States competitor in his 7th appearance in the World Kempo Championship tournament, and in keeping with tradition, Mr. Zingg earned 5 Bronze medals for his efforts, and at 56 years old, he was the oldest competitor with his opponents being 15 to 20 years younger. Earning medals in Weapons Forms, Full-contact Kickboxing, K-1 Kickboxing, Full-contact Knockdown fighting, and Semi-contact Kempo, Mr. Zingg joked he is starting to feel his age more each year, and said he may not be in the competition side of the event in coming years, but increase his coaching and recruiting roles, leaving the hard core fighting to the younger generation. Kempo, or Kenpo as some organizations spell it, is a martial art similar to Karate, but much older, looking like a combination of Karate and Ju-jutsu fighting techniques, with similarities to modern Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and kickboxing competitions. Déjà vu flashback to last year’s competition in historic St. Petersburg, Russia when Mr. Zingg was the also the sole US competitor, facing over 400 fighters from 30 European, Russian, North African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, and South American countries. His skills paid off then too, and earned him: 1 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze, and a 4th place win in the process. Combining last year, and this years’ wins, with his previous achievements; Mr. Zingg’s medal totals for the World Kempo Championships series of tournaments, from their inception in 2003 to present, is 9 gold, 8 silver, and 12 Bronze medals, with the US Team placing in the top three teams on three separate occasions. So far, despite our small teams over the years, the entire US Kempo Team has earned 33 Gold, 39 Silver, and 50 Bronze medals. Many of those have been team medals in various 2 person and 4 person self-defense events, and 3 Person Team Kata events, so even though each member of the winning event gets a medal, it only counts as one medal for the team. While departing for the airport, Mr. Zingg was hit by the similarities between these two competitions; both as the lone competitor from the USA, and as Team Leader for the United States Kempo Team. Each year he finds it is a struggle to recruit fighters willing to travel overseas to compete in these international competitions, and although many fighters are willing to go, and there are plenty of open slots for fighters to participate, sponsors are in short supply, and with the recent economic down turn, team members must rely on their own ability to pay their way to the competitions. Unfortunately, it comes down to money that prevents many great US fighters from competing, thus witnessing the last two competitions being the toughest to try and recruit members able to travel overseas. Mr. Zingg says he finds it extra frustrating since many of the other teams from around the world receive full or partial funding directly from their governments though their Ministry of Sports. Many countries are free to bring as many fighters as their budgets allow, with teams of 25 – 40 common, and some as large at 75 – 100. This proves the high quality of US martial artists, and that just a few US team members can earn enough medals to overcome teams three or four times their size. Mr. Zingg dreams of the day the United States Kempo Team walks into the arena 100 members strong. This dream may not be too far off, as Mr. Zingg has recently partnered with several high-profile martial arts leaders around the USA to help form a much larger US Team. Some of those leaders include Master Jeff Speakman, martial arts film star (The Perfect Weapon), founder of the Jeff Speakman Kenpo 5.0 System, and President of the International Kempo Federation (IKF), along with legendary World Champion professional kick boxer, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez , who earned World Champion Kickboxing Titles in 5 different weigh classes and had a fighting career spanning 30 years.
With their tremendous influence in the martial arts community, plans are underway to recruit individual fighters, fighting clubs and schools, and other similar minded organizations from around the country, to band together to bring the USA to the forefront of international Full-contact Kempo fighting.. The US Team is eager to show the diversity of American martial arts talent, culture, and life style from across the USA. Mr. Speakman, who was elected IKF President in 2010, has schools throughout the USA and in 14 countries. Mr. Zingg, who is the Director of Foreign Relations, for the American Kempo-Karate Association, has clubs in 10 states across the US. Mr. Zingg said the valuable thing about the IKF World Kempo competitions are that they are amateur, and encourage participation of younger members, by having age and gender categories for young people in many of the competition categories: from fighting, to self-defense, and forms competition. Treating the young competitors as equal partners in the competitions and competing along side the adult divisions, young team members learn discipline and self-reliance, while earning respect from the adult fighters for their courage and fighting spirit. The younger team members, as well as the adults, learn a lot about themselves, and the pride they feel for their country and their team. They build bonds of friendship, not only within their team, but across cultural and international borders, with the members of other world teams. In addition to building new friendships, Mr. Zingg also incorporates cultural learning experiences for his team members, especially those still in school. Many of the team members, young and old alike, have rarely been out of the USA, and find touring other countries fascinating and educational. Traveling to countries like Romania, Hungary, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Turkey has been tremendously educational, and often leaves team members with a fuller sense of pride in the USA. US Team members have always been greeted warmly, and with great interest in foreign countries, and have never had a troubling moment in all of their travels. Foreigners are eager to meet and talk with Americans, have their photos taken with team members and find out what life is like in the USA. Future adventures for the US Team include excursions to places such as; Turkey, again, for the 2013 World Championships; Budapest, Hungary for the 2014 Championships; and other destinations such as: The United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Japan, Okinawa, and China, just to name a few.