The World Combat League (WCL) was a full contact, team-based kickboxing promotion. It was founded by movie star and martial artist Chuck Norris. WCL organized team competitions in round no-rope arenas. The idea of team all-out style of fighting tournaments was first implemented in the “United Fighting Arts Federation” founded by Norris in 1979 which held male team competitions. WCL operated between 2005 and 2009.
The WCL is a "striking war" with short fights, to encourage an all-out style of fighting. Any striking techniques from Boxing, Muay Thai, International-Style Kickboxing, and Full-Contact Karate are allowed. In order to maintain the fast pace of the action, clinching, holding or ground fighting (grappling) are prohibited.
WCL fights were extremely spectacular and dynamic. The WCL was unique in that its contests emphasize stand up combat, the thrill of rooting for your favorite team and the intense action of short 3 minute bouts. The WCL rules penalized passivity and its match design provided sports fans with an unprecedented level of "full throttle" martial arts fighting action. WCL fights had some features of the contemporary ballet.
A peculiar feature of WCL contests was the spacious WCL combat ring designed without any ropes or screens in order to allow fighters to move freely and swiftly on the arena and manipulate with legs and arms in a sweeping manner. It also removed all visual obstructions for audience members which exist in boxing, kickboxing and MMA - boxing rings have posts and ropes and spectators are always looking under the ropes; the UFC cages also make it difficult to see.
The no-rope ring reminding a circus arena (sometimes referred by fans as "the pit") is a circle which is 27 feet in diameter, of which the inner 24 feet is colored blue. The next 3 feet is yellow, which is the caution area. When the fighter gets to the yellow area, he knows he's getting close to stepping out-of-bounds. The last edge of the ring is the red zone, which features a 30-degree upward angle. When a fighter steps on the red area, he's stepping up slightly, letting him know he's out-of-bounds.
In WCL contests, fighters had to go hard; they had to go full-throttle; there was no boring pace. The only possible pace was extremely fast pace. If a fighter tried to slow the pace of the fight down, the referee would yell passivity and give a point to the other fighter. It was a cumulative point system and the point would be added to the opposite team's score.
Each WCL team featured six fighters -- five men and one woman. Each fighter holds a spot in one of six predetermined weight classes so that any league team can compete against any other league team.
Men 147 lbs
Men 164 lbs
Men 178 lbs
Men 195 lbs
Men 235 lbs
Women 128+ lbs
This is how Chuck Norris explained why women had been included into the WCL teams. “Thirty years ago we had five-man teams, and it's a six-person team now. And it was going to be an all-male team. On my Web site, the WCL sent a notice saying it was looking for fighters. We were getting 50 e-mails a day from fighters wanting to join the league. Then all of a sudden I started getting e-mails from girls saying, ‘Hey, if you're going to start a league we want to fight.’ So in Dallas, we figured we'd put a girl on each team and see how it works out. We formed teams from different cities and the most exciting part of the night was the girls fighting. I mean, the crowd got into it.”
Each match is two rounds in duration, with each round lasting three minutes. After the fighters complete their first round, the next two fighters begin their first round. After each set of fighters has completed his or her first round, then halftime is called before the first set of fighters begin their second round. This gives each fighter about 20 minutes between rounds so he or she can fight full speed for the entire time allowed.
Both teams will enter the ring and stand with each team member facing their opponent. The referee will administer the pre-fight instructions and execute the "coin toss". The coach of the team who wins the coin toss is allowed to select which fighter will start the contest. If the coach chooses his middleweight, for example, then he and the opposing team's middleweight will stay in the ring for a match while the remaining fighters retire to the "fighter's pen" (a warm-up area close to the ring).
Attire: All competitors must fight in approved team pants, with gloves and shinguards. No boots or shoes are allowed as though fighters originally wore boots (before 2006).
Punching - Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut, and Spinning Backfist. No elbows or forearms allowed.
Kicking - Front-Kicks, Side Kicks, Back Kicks, Hook Kicks, Roundhouse Kicks, Wheel Kicks, Spinning Kicks.
Kneeing - Front and Roundhouse. Must be above the waist.
No Holding - Grabbing the opponent's body in an effort to stop them from attacking or countering. However, fighters may grab to immediately throw a knee (i.e. they may not clinch and jockey for knee strike position.)
Limited Clinching - Fighters may clinch and throw one knee but then must release.
No Low Kicks - Leg kicks are allowed to the support leg as well as the lead leg, but must be at least three inches above the knee.
No Stalling - Intentionally delaying the action of a contest in any way.
No Passivity - Retreating or circling without striking - or fighting only when the opponent attacks.
Each match within the team contest only lasts for three minutes, so each fighter is encouraged to fight constantly in order to earn as many points for their team as possible. Three judges score each fight based on knockdowns, extent of damage inflicted, and the volume of clean-scoring strikes landed. Each judge will award five points to the fighter they see as superior, and four or less points to the opponent. The judges points are combined at the end of each fight (15 points maximum, not counting penalties), and are then added to the teams overall total from the previous fights. The team with the most points at the end of the second half wins.
The referee has the right to stop the fighters if a fighter cannot defend himself intelligently, the fights go out-of-bounds (the red zone), a fighter is downed, or the opponents are holding. Fighters are expected to follow the referees instructions at all times or be disqualified, which results in the maximum points being awarded to the winner (same as a KO). In addition, the three-knockdown rule is in effect (three knockdowns in a round result in a technical knockout) as well as a mandatory eight count on all knockdowns.
At the end of each fight the judge's scores will be announced, and added to the total points awarded from the previous fights. Referee-awarded penalty points are added to the cumulative team score when they occur.
Photos from the WCL