View Full Version : Georg F. Bruckner

19th February 2018, 15:23
A bit over 25 years ago German martial arts legend Georg F. Bruckner died in Berlin on December 30, 1992. George was one of the early pioneers of modern, competitive martial arts in Germany and Europe. His accomplishments were outstanding but he was also a very polarizing and disrupting person.

Most people who have heard his name before probably know him as "the father or European Kickboxing", "co-founder of WAKO" and the inventor of the Top Ten safety equipment. Allow me to reflect a bit on him as a person and his history in the arts. The picture below shows Georg Bruckner together with TV star Telly Savallas aka Kojak.


When George started with the martial arts around 1960 in West Berlin his first two styles were Jujutsu (a German version of Jiu Jitsu) and traditional karate. He was a big enthusiast and started his first karate school and gym in 1962. He was only the second person in Germany who opened a commercial martial arts school at that time. Back then he learned his martial arts from American soldiers who were stationed with the US Army as part of the Allied Forces who occupied Germany after WWII. Traditional shotokan and kyokushinkay karate association were already existing in Germany, but at that time competition was limited to kata, only. Kumite was considered too dangerous. Of course, George, who was a green belt at that time, wanted to learn how to fight. The only place to learn fighting was in Garmisch Partenkirchen in the South of Germany where an American soldier had just started the first Taekwondo Dojo in Germany. This American teacher was Mike Anderson, a student of Texan karate legend Allan Steen, who had been a direct student of Jhoon Rhee, the highest ranking Korean Master of the arts outside of America. George took off his green belt and started studying Taekwondo under Mike Anderson and invited the American to come and visit him in Berlin to teach his own students. The Germans loved it and George F. Bruckner continued spreading karate and taekwondo throughout the country. Georg's dojo expanded from a small dojo to a very popular health center with around 4000 members at its peak. Jhoon Rhee was flown in from Washington to conduct the first black belt tests in Berlin and the founder of Taekwondo himself, Choi Hong Hi promoted Georg to first Dan.

In the early 70ies when the new sport karate movement found traction the friendship between Georg and Mike Anderson received another boost. In 1974 Anderson promoted the first Professional Karate Championships in Los Angeles. It was nobody other than Georg F. Bruckner who helped him to recruit the first Europeans to participate in the first fullcontact event. To find the best Europeans Georg rented the biggest venue in West Berlin: The Deutschlandhalle was almost sold out with 9,000 spectators when the First European All-Style Championships took place. During the evening event American martial arts masters like Malia Bernal, Al Dacascos, Eric Lee, Jhoon Rhee and Hideo Ochiai performed with Linda Lee commenting the show. The European tournament winners faced the top American fighters for the showdown: Bill Wallace, Jeff Smith, Jim Butin, Howard Jackson and Joe Lewis. This was the first time Jhoon Rhee's safety equipment was introduced in Europe.

The history went on and George promoted his second European All-Style Championships in 1975 and the first professional fullcontact karate fight. In 1976 and 1977 he formed a new Organization for amateur sport karate that is still active today: WAKO. The "World All-Style Karate Organization" was his brainchild and supported by 7 countries in the beginning. In 1978 Georg Bruckner promoted the first World Championships in Berlin with around 8,000 visitors. The first event was held in 7 fullcontact divisions, only. In 1987 George promoted the 5th WAKO World Championships in Munich with 15.000 spectators over 2 days in fullcontact, semicontact and forms for men and women. After that he retired from promoting and politics. In his final promotion he had unified the association that had broken apart in previous years.

His biggest success and achievement was the development of the Top Ten equipment. George was a supporter of fair competition and wanted to make sure his beloved athletes would be able to compete on even levels with the same gear while being protected to the best extend possible. He was disappointed about the quality of commercial producers and felt left alone by them since they were not interested in improving their products to make sport karate safer. Ironically, this made him work even harder. He sculpted the first headgear, gloves and safety kicks from a new material that would reduce shock at a higher level than all metrials before. It would outlast the durability of other products by incredibly margins in addition. In cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin and German Chemical Developer Bayer he introduced the use of Bayflex foam for his first set of equipment. It was moulded in 1 piece and adjusted with velcro straps in 1981. It hardly tore and didn't need patching.

From then on his headgear became standard in kickboxing and started to find a lot of friends in the world of boxing. When the Olympic Committee started thinking about outlawing amateur boxing from the Olympic Games in 1984 the world governing organization for amateur boxing, AIBA, sought advice from George. He modified the Top Ten Headgear to suit the rules of competition. When it was introduced to the first international championships it was instrumental to reduce knockouts and facial injuries by great margins and helped save amateur boxing to stay within the Olympics. In 1992 Top Ten Equipment was awared the title of Official Equipment for the Olympic boxing tournament. George went to the Olympics in Barcelona and saw the fruits of his long work become reality. He died six months later in his hometown Berlin.

Top Ten remains one of the leading companies for protective gear in boxing and kickboxing.
In the US is is distributed by Fghters Inc. out of Florida: Top Ten USA (https://www.fighters-inc.com/brands/top-ten).

Here is a link to another older article with photos: Georg F. Bruckner on Backkicks (https://www.backkicks.com/goerg-f-brueckner-died-20-years-ago/)

Georg, may you rest in peace. We love you and miss you a lot.