Every city has at least one dojo that claims to be the “Home of the World Champion”. It’s an impressive claim, but I am not so easily convinced. Mostly because it depends on what they mean by “World”. When I was a green belt (c. 1996), I entered a tournament called the “World Championships of Goju Ryu” and won both the kata and kumite divisions making me a World Champion in two divisions. Not only that, I returned the following year as a blue belt and won silver medal in kata and defended my title in kumite. I have the medals to prove it – they are among the few I have kept over the years. What the story fails to mention is that the tournament was hosted by a small dojo in Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) and that six people participated (three of which were my own dojomates).
“Hey everybody its me, The Champ.” ~The Champ
My point is that because karate is not regulated, anyone can claim to be the champion of whatever world they define. Many styles and organizations have their own world championships and that’s OK. It’s also OK to say that one is the World Champion of [state the parameters] only if one also states the parameters. But claiming a title such as this does not compare to winning the crown of the World Karate Federation (WKF) – the only World Championship recognized by various countries’ government-run sporting organizations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As far as I’m concerned, there is only one World Champion (per division) and that is the WKF World Champion.
As of the date of this publication, Canada has produced two world champions: Para athlete Patricia Wright won gold in the Intellectually Impaired Women’s Kata division (Austria 2016) and Ethan Small took home gold in the Cadet +70kg division (Chili 2019). So, if you are in Canada, and someone claims to be World Champion or you see advertisement stating something like “Home of the World Champion”, then please tell Patricia Wright or Ethan Small I said hello. If you are not at their dojo, you should ask what world the advertisers are referring to. Because that World Champion just might be the person who edged me out when I was a blue belt back in ’97.