KARATE COMBAT DRAFT WHITEPAPER
Within is a very early draft of the to-be-developed Karate Combat whitepaper. The league looks forward to receiving community feedback and finalizing the whitepaper prior to launch in January, 2023.
- Up Only Gaming
- Up Only Gaming Logic
- Up Only Gaming System
- Front-end clients
- Ownership Structure
- The KarateDAO
- Karate Combat Universe
- Sports DAOs
- Karate Combat Ruleset
- Karate Combat Weight Classes
- Karate History
Karate Combat is the top striking league within combat sports. The league is designed from the ground up for the next generation of fans. Karate Combat has approximately 130 exclusive fighters that compete for championship belts across 10 weight classes.
Younger fans engage with sports content in radical new ways that temporarily open a large window of opportunity for new, flexible sports formats. To this end, the league has capitalized on a ruleset tailored to entertain on mobile devices, free-to-watch cross-platform distribution and immersive 3D VFX environments rendered in Unreal Engine. Karate Combat is now fully embracing crypto rails. In the immediate term the league is utilizing new web3 tools to provide the access, ownership and interactivity demanded by younger sports fans that grew up with social media and gaming culture. In the medium term, the league is embracing an open decentralization model featuring unprecedented transparency, fan-controlled intellectual property and permissionless innovation to foster a broad and emergent Karate Combat Universe built by the community.
Earlier this year the league was sold to the Sensei Foundation, and in January, 2023 Karate Combat is launching the $KARATE token on the Hedera and Ethereum Networks. Karate Combat will be the first sports league structured as a decentralized autonomous organization (“DAO”). The $KARATE token governs the DAO, and Karate Combat’s founders have pledged to give half of the tokens away for free to fans and athletes over time.
The $KARATE token can also be used to access the league’s new Up Only Gaming smart contract application. Holders of the $KARATE token can use the league’s smart contracts, web apps and mobile apps to pick their favorite fighters and boost their potential prize pools, above and beyond their contracted pay. In contrast to sports gambling, holders who pick winning fighters earn additional tokens from modest token issuance with no risk of loss. No purchase will be necessary for fans to access the league’s applications or to claim $KARATE tokens. Over time the league should be controlled by the most active, informed fans and the best fighters.
Television audiences for traditional sports leagues are aging.i Some surveys indicate a “dramatic reduction in sports fandom in Generation Z”.ii Nearly half of NFL fans aged 18 to 34 prefer watching highlights to full games. This preference stands in stark contrast to the viewing habits of older fans, and it threatens the television rights ecosystem that supports traditional sports economies.iii
However, less superficial studies uncover a more complex reality. Younger fans demonstrate markedly different - and in many cases deeper - engagement patterns that provide massive opportunities for fast-moving sports formats. A recent study by Nielsen and LaLiga Tech shows that nearly half of fans under the age of 34 prefer to watch sports on their phone. They further observe that ubiquitous mobile social streaming is benefitting the growth of long-tail sports formats.iv Younger generations grew up with social media and gaming culture, and they expect a different level of access, participation and interactivity. For instance, 28% of Americans aged 21 to 34 bet on sports at least once a month. This compares to 10% for Americans aged 50 to 64 and 5% for those over the age of 65.v There is a massive secular trend towards the gamification of sports content, and younger fans are leading the way. According to YPulse, 39% of male fans aged 20 to 38 say that sports are only interesting when betting is involved.vi
Karate Combat believes the opportunity is unlikely to be fully capitalized by today’s dominant sports leagues. The average NFL broadcast is over three hours, including nearly an hour of ads and only 18 minutes of action.vii It now costs over $1,000 per year to watch all UFC fights.viii Baseball’s ruleset has barely changed in over 100 years and in the words of Alan Schwarz remains as “suggestible as a glacier.”ix Team ownership and league governance across the big four North American leagues is concentrated in the hands of the few richest people on earth. In contrast to other entertainment options available today, traditional sports economies are locked into distribution modes that are expensive, full of friction and lacking in communal experience and interactivity.x
Combat sports have repeatedly driven disruption in the media industry. The first broadly available sports radio broadcast was a boxing match in New Jersey.xi The earliest big successes of the pay tv industry were fights.xii Wrestling was a #1 show at the birth of cable tv.xiii And today, combat sports’ quick, action-packed format is proving exceedingly popular with younger fans.xiv
Karate Combat was designed from the ruleset up as a combat sports league for the mobile internet, built to engage the next generation of sports fans.xv The league’s scoring heavily favors aggression.xvi Rounds are three minutes long, in contrast to five-minute rounds used in the UFC. While grapplers dominate the UFC, wrestling is largely outside Karate Combat’s ruleset. Kicks between the knee and waist, which can slow down fights, are forbidden. Fights are held in the league’s signature pit. The pit forces the action and provides excellent line of sight for fans at home.
The league’s events are distributed free, completely cross-platform.xvii At the same time that the events are broadcast with television partners such as Eurosport, Globo, and BeIn Sports, fans can watch with zero delay and fee on Karate.com, Youtube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook. The league’s social media team has recently discussed streaming on Linkedin Live, perhaps as a joke.
Since 2020, Karate Combat has been hosting real fights in immersive 3D environments generated in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.xviii The league is the first and only live sport to produce events with in-camera VFX.xix, xx Fight environments to date range from ancient Okinawa to futuristic sports stadiums.
Today, the league is announcing that it is the first professional sports league transitioning to a DAO, governed by a cryptographic token on the Hedera and Ethereum networks. The league was sold earlier this year to the Sensei Foundation, and in January 2023 Karate Combat is launching the $KARATE token. Karate Combat and its founders have pledged to give half of the tokens away for free to fans and athletes over time.
The $KARATE token governs the DAO. The $KARATE token can also be used to access the league’s new Up Only Gaming smart contract application. Holders of the $KARATE token can use the league’s smart contracts, web apps and mobile apps to pick their favorite fighters and boost their potential prize pools, above and beyond their contracted pay. In contrast to sports gambling, holders who pick winning fighters earn additional tokens from modest token issuance with no risk of loss. Over time the league should be controlled by the most active, informed fans and the best fighters.
Up Only Gaming
The league’s novel Up Only Gaming application allows $KARATE token holders to boost their favorite fighters’ potential bonus pools and earn additional tokens at no risk of loss.
Fighters participating in matches with more token votes fight for larger $KARATE token bonuses, above and beyond the fighters’ contractual purses. Token holders who pick winning fighters earn additional tokens from modest, perpetual token issuance. Unlike sports gambling, token holders who align with losing fighters suffer no penalty and can play again next time. Winning fighters and players increase their voting power in the DAO.
For 48 hours prior to an event, fighter picks can be made by signing messages off-chain in Snapshot by any wallet holding $KARATE on the snapshot block. Therefore playing the game is gas-free and instant, and participants do not need to lock, send or stake $KARATE tokens to play. For convenience, Up Only Gaming picks may be delegated from cold wallets to burner wallets, including the league’s mobile app.
Winners are paid with new issuance, but all issuance goes to existing token holders and unlike most inflationary mechanisms, on average the games are not dilutive to active members. Further, the league believes that Up Only Gaming should be fun and enjoyable with modest token issuance. For instance, if one assumes 20% annual issuance, a 50% play rate and 10 marquee events per year, winners could take home 5-15% additional tokens per night.
Initial Up Only Gaming mechanisms are being finalized and will be transparently detailed in full prior to launch. No purchase will be necessary for fans to access the league’s applications or to claim $KARATE tokens.
Up Only Gaming Logic
The constants of F% and PPPE are still being finalized, but the league has built the Up Only Gaming application on the following logic.
Up Only Gaming System
The Up-Only Gaming contract allows users to predict which fighter will win their match and be rewarded with $KARATE on an accurate prediction.
To begin a game, a quorum of delegates add a Snapshot proposal’s IPFS CID to the Event through the KC DAO smart contract. At this point a snapshot of all the token balances are saved on chain to facilitate the redemption process later on.
Users engage the contract by first submitting their match predictions via the aforementioned Snapshot proposal from their preferred client. With their submission they are able to allocate their preferred amount of $KARATE tokens per match prediction. At the end of the voting period the oracle service (e.g. Chainlink) provides an interface to that collection of signed votes—preventing the addition of any new votes during the matches.
At the end of the event, the judges send their tabulated scores, with their signatures, for each of the matches and the result of that match to the KC DAO contract. A KC Delegate also signs the scores as a testimony to the validity of those results in terms of the propriety of the event. The contract validates the signatures correspond to active judges and delegates associated with the event before committing the results. On the successful commit, rewards are able to be redeemed by users.
On Ethereum, rewards are distributed on an on-claim basis. After the results are available on-chain, if a user has sent an accurate prediction for a match, they are able to redeem rewards proportional to the quantity of $KARATE tokens allocated on a specific prediction and the size of the total quantity of tokens allocated across all predictions for that match made by all users. To determine this proportion in a veritable manner, when the user tries to redeem his rewards, their balance in the on-chain snapshot is retrieved and their prediction accuracy is appraised to calculate how much $KARATE they are owed. Appraising the legitimacy of their prediction is completed by either calling the oracle service, or if already available on-chain, verifying their signed prediction with respect to the result and that signature matching the public key of the claimant.
The DAO allows token holders to upgrade the contract via the upgradeDAO method on the KC DAO Contract. While some DAOs have opted for the proxy pattern for upgrades, the KC DAO supports upgrades through the separation of the Data Storage and Logic contracts in a similar manner to Yearn. This allows upgrades to be performed without the complexity introduced by proxies and to prevent updates from occurring without the acknowledgement of clients consuming the contract as a dependency. The upgradeDAO method allows a safe upgrade on-chain by: passing ownership of the Storage contract to the address selected as the new contract; verifying that contract indeed has access to the specified storage; verifying that the new contract implements a minimum interface for expected functionality; and finally through the termination of itself.
The league intends to foster independently developed front-ends for its Up Only Gaming Application. To that end, Karate Combat will open source the initial internally developed clients fully. At launch the league will release two front- ends.
- An ios mobile app, which includes a Hedera wallet.
- A webapp to play with your preferred wallet on the Hedera and Ethereum Networks.
The mobile app allows airdrop recipients to securely collect their free tokens, back up their seed phrase and send and receive $KARATE and $HBAR tokens. Both clients allow token holders to pick fighters for each event by voting securely off-chain, gas-free and instantly using Snapshot. Further, players can see community-determined fight odds and their game results. The Ethereum webapp client also allows players to claim their winning tokens.
Earlier this year, the league was sold in its entirety to Sensei Foundation, a Cayman Islands foundation company (the “Foundation”) and a subsidiary of Sensei Foundation BVI, a purpose trust established in the British Virgin Islands to promote the Karate Combat league and the sport of karate (the “Purpose Trust”).
The Purpose Trust and its subsidiaries will function as the mechanism for a committee of independent trustees to review and execute governance decisions made by $KARATE holders on issues such as $KARATE token distribution, intellectual property licensing, budget approval, the selection of contributor teams, grant and bounty distribution and marketing strategy.
In contrast to the Purpose Trust, the Foundation does not act on binding direction from the trustees. However, it has a purpose that is fully aligned with $KARATE holders, which should result in the Foundation developing the robust off- chain activities necessary for the Karate Combat league and network to thrive.
The league will provide additional transparency on the Purpose Trust and the Foundation prior to launch.
Community governance of the KarateDAO will be accomplished through a constrained delegation model inspired by Yearn and other web3 pioneers.xxi The model allows for flexibility in decision-making while allocating the ultimate authority and control of the league to $KARATE holders. $KARATE holders will delegate actions within specified domains to delegates engaged by the Foundation (“DAO Suppliers”), who, under the oversight of the DAO, are empowered to form teams of doers who are granted freedom and agency to execute essential operational tasks. The delegation of power reduces the voting burden on $KARATE holders and facilitates fluid and nimble decision-making by contributor teams, while minimizing the delay and inefficiency inherent in collaborative decision-making that plague DAOs.
The delegation of power by $KARATE holders to DAO Suppliers will be made pursuant to clear rules that can be audited by the broader community, creating a feedback loop whereby $KARATE holders can assess whether DAO Suppliers are following the parameters set by DAO vote. To ensure accountability, each DAO Supplier is subject to quarterly reporting of its progress, milestones and initiatives. Missing milestones, expected deliverables, or misusing funds can cause $KARATE holders to re-evaluate any delegation of authority, leading to a loss of funding or replacement of the DAO Supplier. Over time, as the network matures, $KARATE holders will provide the DAO with the tools necessary to modify the community governance structure according to actual needs, rather than speculative needs.
While DAO governance participation rates are notoriously low,xxii our research indicates a strong desire by Karate Combat community members to influence fighter contracts, fight matchups and league rules. However, fighter and matchup selection is a regulated process that requires deep, experienced care for fighter safety and development. To that end, the league’s fighter operations supplier will regularly propose bounded ways for the community to participate. For just one example, the fight operations supplier may offer to the community the option to pick one of three curated belt contenders to next challenge the reigning champion.
Although the token airdrop design space is evolving,xxiii most token airdrops to date have been upfront, one-time events. If “tokens are the new CAC”, then the web3 industry needs to start applying the best practices developed over decades of growth marketing. The league believes that web3 token airdrops likely need to evolve to be data-driven and iterative as opposed to retroactive. Further, if tokens do have a special role in acquiring users and aligning incentives between users and builders, then web3 projects probably need to abandon the idea of hard-coding the size and pacing of their airdrops in advance. In the future, if the most successful airdrops have LTV’s that consistently exceed CAC and continually accrue value to their DAO, they will likely be maintained in perpetuity. Eventually, hard-coded airdrop allocations may sound as silly as marketing budgets locked in years in advance.
The founders of the league have pledged to give away half of the $KARATE tokens over time to its fans and athletes. In January an initial airdrop will commence on the Hedera Network to select fans and web3 communities. In contrast to nearly all airdrops to date, the league plans to continually give away tokens to new and engaged fans. The league will test numerous airdrop strategies across a variety of parameters (historical engagement, interest targeting, retargeting, geography, airdrop sizing, timing around league events, landing pages, messaging, etc.) The league intends to monitor mobile app and on-chain data to measure engagement and churn and refine airdrop strategies going forward to best identify and engage league fans. Post-launch, the league also intends to launch referral structures that reward active users with airdrop invites for friends.
The league believes it would be impossible to credibly hard code the future path of airdrops at the league, but Karate Combat will provide best estimates ahead of launch.
The primary initial use cases for the $KARATE token are DAO governance and Up Only Gaming. While DAO governance participation rates are notoriously low, our research indicates a strong desire by community members to influence fighter contracts, fight matchups and league rules. Secondary $KARATE token use cases include token-gated experiences such as live event ticketing and community-developed applications.
Although the initial ownership of the tokens will be concentrated among the founders, the founders have pledged pledged to give away half of the league’s $KARATE tokens over time. Founders, contributors and investors will be subject to long token lockups, and their stakes will be transparently detailed in full prior to launch.
The ongoing airdrops are inflationary. However, so long as the league remains data driven and iterative, growing the community of fans and fighters may be accomplished without sacrificing token fundamentals. The league believes that hard money, scarcity-mindset values in the broader cryptocurrency space need to be abandoned for the web3 industry to reach mass adoption.
Half of the $KARATE tokens will be issued on the Hedera Network, and half of the tokens will be issued on the Ethereum mainnet, as HTS and ERC 20 tokens, respectively. The tokens on both networks will have the same functionality. $KARATE tokens may be bridged between networks, for instance on Hashport. However, at least initially, there will be no mint & redeem functionality to completely eliminate any pricing discrepancies between the HTS and ERC 20 tokens. The KarateDAO will endeavor to ensure adequate liquidity on both networks.
The league believes it would be impossible to credibly hard code the future path of token issuance at the league, but Karate Combat will provide best estimates ahead of launch.
Karate Combat Universe
The league is embracing decentralization, community-controlled IP and permissionless innovation to foster a broad and emergent Karate Combat Universe built by the Karate Combat community. The league is excited about the prospect for harnessing the power of open networks and community development across at least three vectors: composable web3 applications, intellectual property, and athlete development.
The league is open sourcing all league-developed smart contracts and front ends applications to foster community- developed, composable web3 applications and independent front-end clients. In the future, the league believes that developer outreach, hackathons and even ecosystem funds have important roles to play in the development of an active developer ecosystem. The league is particularly excited to see how the community builds applications on top of the $KARATE token and Up Only Gaming application such as:
- Social graph tournaments
- Leveraged play
- Passive vaults
- Fighter tokens
From day 1, Karate Combat has maintained a policy of incredible permissiveness with its IP. Every event is streamed for free simultaneously with televised distribution. The league is currently developing pilot programs for pre-permissioned community use of league IP in certain categories including video games and playable NFTs and will announce more details in the near term.
In combat sports, super gyms, teams, qualifier tournaments and amateur leagues play roles in fighter development. The league looks forward to embracing community-led efforts to develop league talent over time.
Karate Combat is the first professional sports league to embrace a DAO governance structure. At their core, professional sports leagues establish stable rulesets, or protocols, for competition amongst world class athletes. Sports league value largely emerges from the quality of the competition and the passion and loyalty of the fan base. We believe that decentralized governance is well-suited for the slow-changing nature of pro sports league rulesets in general, and in fight sports in particular. Further, aligning the interests of the major drivers of value – athletes and fans – appears to be a particularly ripe opportunity for disruption.
Today sports league ownership and governance structures are anomalous and difficult to summarize. To radically oversimplify, the NFL, NBA and MLB are owned either by no one or by all the franchise team owners. In the NFL each team gets a seat on the executive board. 75% of the board must agree to pass a ruling or decision, and day to day management is headed up by the commissioner appointed by the board.xxiv The MLB is governed by the Major League Baseball Constitution.xxv Whether the NBA is an association, joint venture or single entity is up for debate and according to some the organizational structure is “shrouded in mystery”.xxvi On the other hand, Formula 1 is owned by Liberty Media and Nascar is owned by the France family. Over the last 10 years the UFC was sold to private equity-backed consortium and taken public.
At the team level, fan ownership is relatively common,xxvii and experiments at the intersection web3 and sports are currently underway by friends at:
- Krause House, a DAO with the collective goal to buy an NBA team.xxviii
- WAGMI United, web3 natives that have acquired Crawley Town FC, an English Football League 2 club and launched an NFT project.xxix
- LinksDAO, a DAO with a mission to purchase one of the world’s greatest golf courses.xxx
- SailGP x NEAR DAO team, which will give fans a chance to own a SailGP team.xxxi
- Fan Controlled Sports, which gives fans and NFT projects chances to call the plans in Fan Controlled Football and, soon, Fan Controlled Hoops.xxxii
- Big3, a 3 on 3 basketball league with teams owned by multiple NFT projects.
Karate Combat Ruleset
Below is a high level summary of the Karate Combat ruleset design.
Fan Friendly Rule Design
No better example of Karate Combat’s fan centric philosophy can be found than in its ruleset. For the first time in history a rule has been changed in a combat sports organization due to fan lobbying and direct fan vote. Fans have been lobbying Karate Combat to add either knees or low kicks to the ruleset. After putting it to a vote on social media, the fans chose knees. This change has led to more dynamic exchanges in close range combat, particularly in the clinch range.
While Karate Combat is a striking focused organization, it needed to contain a grappling component to be truly representative of the art. However, high paced karate action is still valued in the organization. Therefore, the clinch is limited. When a clinch is initiated fighters either work to break out of it to throw a legal strike or they work to throw within a limited time before the referee breaks the clinch. Once the opponent is on the ground, the aggressor has five seconds to apply effective “ground and pound” on their opponent from a standing or knee on belly position.
However, if the opponent reverses the position before the 5 seconds are up, then the 5 second timer is reset for the opponent, leading to very dynamic grappling exchanges. Once the 5 seconds are up the fight is brought back to the feet for striking. However, if both fighters go to ground and engage in Newaza (ground fighting) then it's treated like a clinch in boxing. Some referees may break it up immediately, while others will give the fighters a small opportunity to break out of it to a standing position. Fans have described the grappling component of Karate Combat as all the things they love about grappling in MMA, with none of the stalling and “blanket wrestling” that makes matches objectively boring and tedious.
While Karate Combat has a grappling component, the main focus of the ruleset is for high paced striking. In the rules the highest scoring criteria is effective aggression. This means that fighters are rewarded for any effective activity (landing a legal technique that results in an effective impact on the opponent) as well as effectively pressuring their opponent. For legal techniques, all the punches that both Karate and Boxing share are legal. Ridge hand strikes and backfists are also legal. Every imaginable karate kick above the waistline (but not to the back of the head or torso) are legal in Karate Combat. Some unimaginable ones that make use of the Pit Walls have also been legally executed. When it comes to low kicks, Karate Combat is truly unique with a calf kick only rule. This keeps fights from being slowed down and creates incentives for that long range strike engagements that mainstream audiences know Karate for. Finally, when an opponent’s back is against the Pit Wall they are treated as if they are standing. Therefore, any legal technique such as kicks or knees to a standing opponent are fair game. This has led to “wall extension combos” reminiscent of fighting games like Bandai Namco’s “Tekken” series.
Karate Combat Weight Classes
- Bantamweight (135 LB / 61.2 KG)
- Lightweight (150 LB / 68 KG)
- Welterweight (165 LB / 74.9 KG)
- Middleweight (185 LB / 84 KG)
- Heavyweight (205 LB / 93 KG)
- Super Heavyweight (+205 LB / +93 KG)
- Strawweight (115 LB / 52.2KG)
- Flyweight (125 LB / 56.7 KG)
- Bantamweight (135 LB / 61.2 KG)
- Featherweight (145 LB / 65.8)
Intro Definitions & Etymology
- Karate – literally, empty hand
- Kihon – basics, fundamentals
- Kata – form, sequences of movements
- Kumite – meeting of the hands, sparring
- Sensei – teacher
The Birth of Karate
Okinawa is the birthplace of Karate. For centuries the Okinawans and Ryukyuan People intensely studied and refined self-defense methods and techniques in a system called “Ti”. Ti was later infused with elements from Kenpo/Kung Fu. While still called “Ti”, it was also referred to as Tōdi (Chinese Hand). This system could be considered Grappling with Strikes, though striking was still valued in the system. Body conditioning was also highly emphasized. To that end, natural objects like trees and rocks were leveraged. The original makiwara (a padded wooden post to condition the knuckles and teach correct alignment) were entire trees encircled with rice stalk rope. At this time Tōdi was one of the main means of self-defense for the Ryukyuan People, due to a weapon bans on the island. Many of the founders of Okinawan styles of Karate trained in the different regional styles of Ti/Tōdi and infused it with Kung Fu and/or Jujutsu that they learned as well. However, the name was changed to Karate to boost acceptance on the Japanese mainlaned, and they adopted the Dogi found in many Japanese Martial Arts.
Acceptance in Japan and spread throughout the world
Two important aspects need to be understood when it comes to Karate spreading to Japan: the difference between Bujutsu and Budo as well as the fact that Japan already had Grappling centric Martial Arts. Bujutsu was purely about waging war and self-defense. But modern Japan felt they didn’t need this as much, so the focus shifted to Budo, or self- improvement. The martial arts retained the self-defense aspect to varying extents, but the focus moved on to self- improvement. This is why Karate is known as Karate-Do, because it adopted the Japanese Budo mindset.
But the second issue still remains. Japan already had Judo, so why did it need another grappling based martial art? However, Karate also had extensive striking, and Japan wanted to combat the influence of western boxing in the country. So, Karate became more striking focused and much of its grappling was preserved only in the Bunkai of its Kata. Next, a point fighting system was introduced based on Kendo, which then became standardized in Japan’s School system. Then it spread throughout all of Japan. Finally, Japanese Masters traveled to various countries to introduce the art. However, American WWII GIs introduced Karate to the United States first, creating a unique Karate culture in itself. Also, the US largely popularized Karate in global mainstream media, with everything from Bloodsport to Cobra Kai. Today, Karate is one of the world's most popular martial arts, but the art is spread across many substyles with little unity. The semi-contact Olympic ruleset is unpopular. Luckily, Karate Combat has evolved a potential solution.
Karate is divided into many styles, each with its own training methods. Today, five major styles remain: Gōjū-ryū, Shotokan, Shitō-ryū, Wadō-ryū, and Kyokushin Karate. Karate Combat fighters represent these styles and some other traditional styles as well.
Karate Combat as the Future
Karate Combat is the first Full Contact Karate League in history to serve as a middle ground for Karate athletes of various styles and competition backgrounds. Karate Combat respects all the history and tradition of Karate-Do. But it is not shackled by it. The league now accepts competitors from various disciplines who are willing to abide by the league’s rulset. Tradition is not about preserving ashes but keeping the fire alive.
xxxiii Hokama, Tetsuhiro, and Cezar Borkowski. History and Traditions of Okinawan Karate. Masters Publication, 1996.