Berlin based martial artist and business man Georg F. Brueckner accomplised a lot. He helped introduce Taekwondo and kickboxing to Germany in the sixties, founded WAKO and created the TopTen brand of martial arts and boxing equipment. Let’s remember George as one of the great pioneers of European karate and martial arts.
George was a pioneer of martial arts who was unparalleled in his skills and devotion. His roots date back to the 50ies when he started training self defense based on JuJutsu, a European version of Jiu Jitsu. Driven by curiosity he observed US-American soldiers stationed in occupied West Germany training Taekwondo and Karate. He started learning this new, modern way of Oriental combat. One of the best known American instructors was Mike Anderson. George heard about Anderson’s exceptional skills and traveled to Garmisch Partenkirchen – around 700 Km south of West Berlin – every weekend to learn the art of Taekwondo. Both became friends and partners who were instrumental in changing the landscape of martial arts in Europe.
In 1992 our global martial arts community lost one of it’s most memorable and controversial personalities: Georg F. Brueckner of Berlin, Germany. George died of cancer on December 30th 1992 in a Berlin hospital after battling for his life for many years.
Anderson and Brueckner were responsible for modernizing the sport to more competition and away from traditional kata. Back then tournaments were kata, only, with kumite deemed too dangerous to practice.
Friendship with Mike Anderson
As one of the first German martial artists to practice Karate kumite and Taekwondo, George opened one of the first commercial martial arts schools in Europe. Besides, he played parts in various movie productions as an actor and stuntman including the epic Film series Jerry Cotten. Frequent trips to USA during mid to late 1960ies brought George into contact with the greats of American Karate including Bill Wallace, Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis, Robert Trias and many others. His students traveled along and competed in big American tournaments. Together with Anderson they created the idea of importing American Sportkarate to Germany.
Father of Kickboxing and WAKO
Since that time Brueckner is known and respected as the father of European kickboxing. In 1974 and 1975 he promoted the first two big events in Europe. With a capacity of nearly 10,000 seats, West Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle hosted the first two European All-Style Karate Championships, the first professional Fullcontact Karate World title fight in Europe and the first two competitions between elite European and American fighters including Bill Wallace, Howard Jackson and Jeff Smith.
1977 was the year of WAKO – World All Style Karate Organization. It was founded by Anderson (USA), Brueckner (Germany), Stoker (Netherlands), Lemmens (Belgium), Schupp (Switzerland) and others being the first international non-profit organization for Sport Karate. The sport was later renamed to kickboxing and WAKO changed it’s meaning to World Association of Kickboxing Organizations in 1987 during a reunification ceremony. It’s unique blue and white logo was developed, registered and copyrighted by Brueckner himself. This fact helped unify two split-up fractions of the organizations after a two year lasting breakup between 1985 to 1987.
Brueckner’s Milestones as event promoter:
1974 – Berlin Deutschlandhalle, 1st Allstyle Karate European Championship and elimination tournament for European fighters to compete at the first PKA fullcontact World Championships in USA. Teamfight between Europe and USA including Bill Wallace and Howard Jackson.
1975 – Berlin Deutschlandhalle, 2nd Allstyle Karate European Championship and first professional fullcontact world title fight in Germany between Gordon Franks and Ramiro Guzman (PKA)
1978 – Berlin Deutschlandhalle, 1st WAKO World Championships, fullcontact. Winner’s list included names like Peter Harbrecht and Tony Palmore.
1987 – Munich Olympiahalle, 5th WAKO World Championships and reunification of WAKO.
Top Ten Equipment
His biggest achievement was creating an innovative brand of safety equipment. One that would last longer than competitors and protect athletes from inquiry. Top Ten safety equipment took years to develop and Brueckner devoted enormous resources into his project. He was named the ‘inventor of soft boxing gloves‘ by Berlin’s popular newspaper Berliner Morgenpost and starting with the Olympic Games 1992 in Barcelona Top Ten gloves and headgear were supplied to Olympic Games for many years to come. It was official gear for WAKO for many years.
Top Ten gained it’s reputation from being more shock absorbing and longer lasting due to it’s unique material and manufacturing process. It made the gear more expensive, but endured more stress. Many famous fighters helped to test and improve his products. Finally, it helped the sport of amateur boxing to remain inside Olympic competition.
Until today, George Brueckner’s achievements are visible and his efforts respected by martial artists around the world. Those who have been happy and fortunate to meet him as a friend will always remember him. He had a unique personality and people loved being around him. Even people who were opposing his views many years back, miss his genuine kindness and generosity. George supported his friends with all resources he had available. He sponsored individual talents, organizations, events and innovative ideas.
George, we miss you and will always think of you in highest regards.