Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson

When Mike Anderson started out in the martial arts he joined Allen Steen’s Taekwondo dojo in Dallas, Texas in the 1961. Steen was a direct student of Jhoon Rhee, the Korean Grandmaster who was sent to American by the government to establish Korean culture and sports in the USA. Both, Steen and Rhee influenced Anderson in his early career when he introduced Taekwondo to Germany and when he established one of the first chains of commercial martial arts dojos in Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

Taekwondo Germany
Mike Anderson conducting a Taekwondo seminar in Essen, Germany in 1966.

The outspoken American veteran started to change the face of martial arts in America with his tournament Top Ten Nationals in 1971, the publication of his magazine Professional Karate in 1972 and by promoting the first fullcontact World Championships in professional fullcontact karate in Los Angeles in 1974.

Fullcontact Karate Champions
1974: Producer Mike Anderson and TV host Telly Savalas crowning the first professional fullcontact karate champions:
Isias Duenas, Bill Wallace, Jeff Smith and Joe Lewis.

Anderson has widely been recognized as the creator of the original rules used for all-style karate tournaments for his 1973 Top Ten Nationals in St. Louis, the tournament that allowed the use of Jhoon Rhee’s protective dip foam Safe-T protectors for the first time in championship competition. It’s the equivalent of today’s point fighting. Promoting the professional karate championships in Los Angeles in 1974 earned him the reputation of being the father of American kickboxing. It was the first time fullcontact fights took place with safety gear and with full contact. The show was televised nationwide in the USA and drew a large crowd. Joe Lewis, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Jeff Smith and Isaias Duenas became the first champions of a new and spectacular sport.

Mike Anderson and Jhoon Rhee
Mike Anderson (l.) with Jhoon Rhee (r.) in Berlin around 1967. Both men have shared many events in the timeline of martial arts history. Anderson’s teacher, Allen Steen, was Jhoon Rhee’s student. Together they ‘imported’ Taekwondo to Germany. While Rhee developed the first protective gear for martial arts, his Safe-T equipment, Anderson was the man to introduce it first to point fighting at his Top Ten Nationals tournament in St. Louis in 1973 and in 1974 to fullcontact fighting at the Los Angeles world championships that created the PKA.

Anderson went on to co-found the Professional Karate Association, PKA, the first sanctioning body for pro kickboxing. Together with his friend Georg Brückner he brought professional fighting to Germany in 1975 but later sold his shares in the PKA back to the his partners, the Quines.
In cooperation with Brückner he developed the idea for an amateur kickboxing association which was formed in Paris in 1976, the World Martial Arts Association, WMAA. The rules and by-laws were created and in 1977 Anderson and Brückner founded WAKO (World All-Style Karate Organization) together with their most loyal students and supporters like Wolfgang Wedde, Geert Lemmens, Peter Land, Dominique Valera and Jean-Pierre Schupp.
Mike Anderson served as the first president of the organization from the start until Oktober 1987. He promoted the 2nd World Championships in Tampa, 1979, various fight cards and tournaments.

Flavio Brio
Mike Anderson with Flavio Brivio, an Italian referee for PKO and WAKO competition.

At the World assembly in Munich in 1987 he was appointed to start the professional arm of WAKO, the Professional Kickboxing Organization, PKO. The promoters Michael Deubner, Benny Hedlund, Ennio Falsoni, Joe Johal and others promoted fight cards until 1992 with the likes of Don Wilson, Troy Dorsey, Ferdinand Mack and Massimo Liberati. In between he was the publisher of Fighter International and Martial Arts Digest print magazines.
Mike Anderson retired from kickboxing administration and lives in Florida together with his wife Alice and his son Erik.

A chronology of Mike Anderson”s martial arts achievements:


Began studying Tae Kwon Do under Allen Steen at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Out of 365 participants in the Novice Belt division, Anderson placed fourth in the First World Karate Championships held in Chicago, Illinois.

– As a brown belt, was the founder of Tae Kwon Do in Germany. Founded the German-Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. Promoted the first free sparring tournament in Garmisch Parrtenkirchen, Germany. Although still a brown belt, won second place in the All-Category at the First All-European Karate Championships. His team from Garmisch-Parrtenkirchen won the team title. Was promoted to First Degree Black Belt by Allen Steen.

1965 – Was personally awarded the Korean Gold Medal of Merit by by Park Chung Hee, the President of South Korea. Was appointed as the first President of the European Tae Kwon Do Association be General Choi Hong Hi.  Was promoted to Second Degree Black Belt by Gen. Choi Hong Hi. His students, Georg Brückner of W.Berlin and Hans Vierthaler of Garmisch, became the first Germans to earn the Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Anderson, Brückner and Vierthaler all refused the promotions as they thought it was to early to be promoted. Gen Choi forced them to accept the promotion since they were the pioneers of Tae Kwon Do in Europe.  Won the Grand Championship at the All-European Karate Championships.

Returned to America and created a business system and sales manual for Karate schools. This system, or variations of it, is still used by hundreds of schools to this day.

Founded the Black Belt-Karate Association (BEKA). The BBKA won 56 consecutive team titles in free sparring including the U.S. Championships.  Introduced, against great opposition, the use of colored uniforms to the martial arts in America.

Won second Place over-all in the U.S. Shotokan Championship. Created the TOP TEN NATIONALS KARATE CHAMPIONSHIPS, America’s most prestigeous and innovative karate tournament.

Created the Professional Karate Referee’s Association.

Published PROFESSIONAL KARATE MAGAZINE. With this magazine he totally revolutionized sport karate by: 1) Creating the TOP TEN RATING SYSTEM in order to give recognition to fighters who had previously been shunned by martial art publications. 2) Creating Professional Sport Karate 3) Creating Professional Kata competition and ratings. 4) Creating the sports of full contact and semi contact karate and forcing the very traditional karate community to accept these new sports.
Using the renowned TOP TEN NATIONALS as a testing ground, Anderson created, promoted, and made a reality of an entirely new sport…SEMI-CONTACT (aka point fighting with protective gear). Anderson asked Mr. Jhoon Rhee to develop new protective gloves and shoes whose use was made mandatory in this new sport.

Along with Berlin, Germany’s Georg Brückner, brought the first U.S. Karate Team to Europe and introduced the new semi contact karate sport to Europe.
Perhaps Anderson’s most crowning achievement, he alone, against total opposition from the entire karate community, created a totally new sport he called “FULL CONTACT KARATE” He piloted the sport by, not only pushing it through PROFESSIONAL KARATE magazine, but by producing a worldwide television special and event called the “FIRST WORLD PROFESSIONAL FULL CONTACT KARATE CHAMPIONSHIPS” at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The television show was aired as an ABC-TV WIDE WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT SPECIAL. This 90 minute special became the Wide World’s number one rated show for the year of 1974. It starred Anderson himself and the then number one rated TV star in world at that time, Kojak’s Telly Savalas. At this glamourous event over 100 of Hollywood’s top stars filled the ringside seats. This classic event established the full contact sport and crowned Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Isais Duenas as the first World Champions. This event drew 15,000 spectators and earned more money from tickets sales and TV revenue than any event in martial art history up to this time.

Anderson, along with Don and Judy Quine, created the Professional Karate Association (PKA) and exited shortly after. Created new uniforms featuring elastic waistbands.

Published the WORLD MARTIAL ARTS JOURNAL magazine. Co-founded the first international organization for amateur kickboxing: World Martial Arts Association, WMAA in Paris.

Along with Germany’s Georg F. Brückner, called together the leaders of sport karate from 10 countries and established the World All-Style Karate Association (WAKO).

1977 to 1987
Mike Anderson served as the first president of WAKO – World Associations of Kickboxing Organizations. He promoted the second WAKO World championships in Tampa in 1979.

1986 to 1988
Published the martial arts magazine “Fighter International

Signed a 10 year exclusive deal with WAKO to build up the Professional Kickboxing Organization PKO as the professional arm of WAKO. (The contract was broken by WAKO’s Ennio Falsoni in 1992.)

Promoted a huge PKO fight card in Berlin between Don Wilson and Ferdinand Mack with Rainer Budich and Michael Deubner.

2002 to 2003
Published the “Martial Arts Digest” magazine.