Without doubt, Berlin based German martial arts pioneer Georg F. Bruckner was the driving force behind WAKO, it’s founding period and the development of kickboxing in Europe up until he died in 1992. He is often credited as being the founder of kickboxing in Europe and Germany.
Originally from ju-jutsu and karate, Georg learned Taekwondo from American Mike Anderson in 1964 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and hired him as his private teacher to his dojo in West-Berlin. He loved the flashy, high kicks and the competitive spirit of the Korean art as shown by his American friend and master.
In 1965 Brückner was introduced to the founder of modern Taekwondo, General Choi Hong Hi from Korea. As one of the first three Germans to receive Blackbelts in TKD Georg Brückner was asked by General Choi Hong Hi to represent the Korean martial art in Europe and promote as many people as possible to Blackbelt. It was a great opportunity to make Taekwondo popular, but Georg disagreed with the General’s perspective giving back his Blackbelt diploma to the Korean Grandmaster. George turned his back on Taekwondo as he disliked the idea of promoting people to master degrees without testing. In his opinion, ranks should be earned by just the best fighters, only, and not awarded for opportunistic purposes.
During the 70ies Brückner grew very fond of point fighting in the USA where he often took his students to compete. When Mike Anderson promoted the first Professional Karate Fullcontact World Championships in 1974 Brückner organized an elimination tournament in Berlin to find the best Europeans representing the continent in a widely televised event. In addition to the first in-official European Championships Berlin’s sold out Deutschlandhalle witnessed the inaugural participation of the greatest American fighters for the first time in Europe: Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Jim Butin. Linda Lee, Jhoon Rhee, Al Dacascos, Malia Bernal, Hideo Ochiai, Karyn Turner and Eric Lee were among the top showman and master to demonstrate martial arts styles.
In 1975 he promoted the first professional fullcontact world title fight (PKA) in his hometown Berlin (West) before he started contemplating the foundation of WAKO during a fight card in Paris in 1976 that saw the best US fighters compete against Europeans. The formation of the World Martial Arts Association – WMAA – marked the countdown to WAKO’s start in 1977.
Georg F. Brückner promoted the first WAKO World Championships 1978 in Berlin (8000 spectators) and retired from the organization by promoting the 5th World Championships 1987 in Munich’s Olympic Hall (15000 spectators) after re-uniting the fractions of the divided umbrella. Until today his success has never been repeated by any other promoter. His success was widely attributed to his diplomatic skill, his tremendously supportive stance towards the athletes and his love for fair sport. He invested large sums of his personal funds to support and nurture the organization and protect its livelihood from vultures and savages.
His biggest contribution for the fighting sports community was the development of TopTen equipment, a set of fighting sports gear for boxing and kickboxing that is the bearer of safety standards since its inception to international competition in 1983 at the World championships in London. Since 1992 TopTen boxing gloves and headgear have frequently been used at the Olympic Games for amateur boxing. The brand remains a market leader in fighting sports in many segments all over the world. Some of the products are still the original designs of Brückner.
George died on December 30, 1992.
He was a mentor to many: Friends, students, fighters, promoters.
Some of his proteges include: Joachim Moeller, Peter Blankenburg, Gustav Baaden, Michael Kuhr, Michael Deubner, Ferdinand Mack, Wolfgang Wedde, Christian Anders, Christian Howell, Stefan Billen, Klaus Friedhaber.