World Championships Senior

#RoadtoKarateBudapest2023: Karate World Championships in review


#RoadtoKarateBudapest2023: Karate World Championships in review

As the 2023 World Senior Championships reach the -30-day count, we review the last editions of Karate’s biggest event. The tournament to be held in Budapest (Hungary) from October 24 to 29 is set to be a record-breaking competition and the beginning and end of an era for the sport.

A new and exciting chapter in Karate’s history will be written in Budapest (Hungary) in less than a month as the biggest event of the sport will reach its 26th edition. All the excellence and values of Karate will be showcased in Budapest in the last World Championships before the implementation of the new structure of Karate’s biggest event, with the separation of individual and team World Championships.


With a rich and thrilling history, the 25 previous editions of the World Senior Championships have given fans the most spectacular moments of the sport. The last six World Senior Championships have demonstrated the tremendous progress of Karate over the years.



The 2010 World Championships in Belgrade (Serbia) represented a “before and after” for the biggest tournament of the sport. To demonstrate the popularity of the event, the most-watched video on the WKF YouTube channel came from Belgrade 2010. The memorable performance of the host country against Italy in the clash for Bronze in Female Team Kata has garnered an impressive 23 million views on the WKF video platform.


Some of Karate’s biggest stars left their mark in the sport at Belgrade 2010. Venezuela’s ANTONIO DIAZ reached one of the peaks of his incredibly successful career when he won the gold medal in Male Kata. In an outstanding Kata presentation, Diaz defeated legendary Luca Valdesi of Italy in the final of the tournament in Belgrade 4-1. 


Karate superstar RAFAEL AGHAYEV also became one of the big names of the event when he won his fourth world title in Belgrade. “The Panther of the East” dominated the Kumite -75kg category with a superb performance and defeated Italy’s Luigi Busa in a memorable final bout.


Learn more about the 2010 World Championships



The 2012 Karate World Championships in Paris are regarded as the epitome of the magnificence of Karate events and one of the most massive tournaments in the history of the sport. Over 25 million people worldwide tuned in on TV to see the top karatekas in the globe competing for the world crown.


Paris Bercy was the stage where one of the most memorable performances in the history of Karate took place. When Japan’s RIKA USAMI performed “Chatanyara Kushanku” kata in the final of Female Kata, the sport changed forever. Usami’s kata presentation was the perfect combination of passion, power, concentration, ‘kime’ and tradition, and the full crowd of Paris Bercy reacted with the biggest standing ovation this sport ever saw. Over 21 million people have watched Usami’s kata on the WKF YouTube channel.


The event also crowned French karate as one of the major powerhouse nations of the sport. ALEXANDRA RECCHIA spearheaded France’s success at home with a remarkable performance in Female Kumite -50kg. In a French celebration, Recchia defeated China’s Hong Li in the final in a spectacular performance (8-1) so to win her first gold medal in individual competition at the World Championships.

Learn more about the 2012 World Championships



The 2014 World Championships in Bremen (Germany) continued the success of Karate’s biggest events. In addition to presenting innovations such as improved TV production and the first Para-Karate competition, Bremen 2014 introduced some of today’s biggest stars of the sport. 


Brazil’s DOUGLAS BROSE produced one of the most memorable performances of the tournament when he claimed his second world crown in Bremen. The Brazilian wonder won gold in style after edging Geoffrey Berens of The Netherlands in the final of Male Kumite -60kg. He would go back to winning the world title seven years later at the 2021 World Championships.  


The tournament also highlighted new names of the sport. Egypt’s GIANA LOTFY registered one of the biggest surprises of Bremen 2014 with her gold in Female Kumite -61kg and contributed to the Egyptian success in the tournament.


Learn more about the 2014 World Championships



Linz 2016 will go down in the history of the sport as the first World Championships after the decision to include Karate in the sports programme of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The event celebrated Karate’s addition to Tokyo 2020 with a tournament full of unforgettable performances. 


Rafael Aghayev confirmed his status as Karate’s biggest star with his fifth world title. The karateka from Azerbaijan had claimed the gold medals in 2006, 2008, and 2010, and prevailed in Linz in an impressive showcase of speed, ability, and ambition. When the “Panther of the East” defeated Egypt’s Omar Abdel Rahman in the final of Male Kumite -75kg, the Karate world hailed Rafael Aghayev as the most successful karateka of all time. 


In a testament to Karate’s global impact, the event welcomed, for the first time, a TEAM OF REFUGEES participating at the event. Competing under the WKF flag, athletes with refugee status had the opportunity to participate in Karate’s biggest competition and enjoy what they defined as "an unforgettable experience". 

Learn more about the 2016 World Championships



The many accomplishments achieved during the 2018 World Championships showcased the status of the sport as an innovative, modern and spectacular discipline. A record-breaking tally of over 1,200 competitors from 131 countries gathered in Madrid for the event. No less than 27 nations from four continents were awarded medals thus demonstrating the global appeal of Karate.


In terms of individual performances, the tournament will be forever remembered by SANDRA SANCHEZ’s memorable victory in Female Kata. In front of a full home audience, the Spanish Kata queen claimed her first world crown thus putting a halt to Japan’s victorious run in Female Kata of over eight years.


In a tournament full of spectacular moments, Germany’s JONATHAN HORNE starred in the “Ippon of the tournament” when he defeated Sajad Ganjzadeh of Iran in the final of Male Kumite +84kg.


Learn more about the 2018 World Championships



The 2021 World Championships in Dubai (UAE) continued the success of previous events and further extended Karate’s global reach following the outstanding participation of the sport at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  While the event was held amid the global pandemic of COVID-19, over 900 athletes from 105 countries took part in the event.


The event crowned two athletes who are currently dominating their categories. IRINA ZARETSKA of Azerbaijan claimed the gold medal in Female Kumite -68kg and confirmed her status among Karate’s elite as she won the world title after winning the continental crown and silver medal at the Olympics.


After winning the world title in Madrid 2018, the continental title, and the Olympic gold medal, STEVEN DACOSTA of France demonstrated outstanding domination of the Male Kumite -67kg with the crown in Dubai. Dacosta defeated Emil Pavlov of North Macedonia in an impressive showcase of abilities.

Learn more about the 2021 World Championships