20,000 Participants Join the 1st TAFISA World Martial Arts Festival


20,000 Participants Join the 1st TAFISA World Martial Arts Festival

16 September 2019

The 1st TAFISA World Martial Arts Festival celebrated the diversity and benefits that Martial Arts can bring to society as delegations from all around the world presented their Martial Arts to 20,000 spectators through performances, demonstrations, clinics, master classes and connected events in Ulyanovsk, Russia. 

People exercising and dancing outdoors
People gathered at the Sobornaya Square for performances and mass exercise


The Festival's participants had an early first taste of the programme as the Kikkuwon Taekwondo team from Korea offered an outstanding performance at the Ulyanovsk Taekwondo Sports School on September 13. The Festival really started on the next day, with several thousand participants gathering at Ulyanovsk's iconic Sobornaya Square for a morning mass exercise session, followed by demonstrations from the various delegations, attracting passersby to stop and learn about lesser known Martial Arts. Focusing on performances with no championship or competition, the Festival entertained spectators with a spectacular display of Martial Arts performances but also engaged the audience to try out various disciplines and appreciate how accessible and fun Martial Arts can be for everyone.


Sambo from Russia


As delegations entered the Volga Sport Arena for the Opening Ceremony in the evening of September 14, the room was warm with the cheers of 3,500 spectators who came to discover Martial Arts such as Capoeira (Brazil), Krav Maga (Israel), Hapkido (Korea), Aikido, Kyokushinkai Karate, Silat (Malaysia), Viking traditional fighting (Denmark) and more, along with Russian traditional Martial Arts such as Sambo, Knife Fighting, Tatar Kuresh, Buryatian Buche Barildaan or Cossack Martial Arts among others. 

Two children playing Mas-Wrestling
Children playing Mas-Wrestling


Introducing over 30 Martial Arts styles from around the world, with 25 countries represented in Ulyanovsk, the Festival showcased both traditional and modern Martial Arts not only as forms of sport or art, but also displaying how Martial Arts can be utilised to positively change the lives of people. The event featured many master classes across the region, providing 3,000 martial artists with unique opportunities to train under recognised masters in their discipline. On September 16, delegations visited schools in Ulyanovsk to introduce their Martial Arts to children and encourage them to participate and become physically active.

The Festival was concluded with a Forum on "Martial Arts and Sport for All - For a Better World", further emphasising the need for a change of paradigm in the Martial Arts world and bringing organisations to work together to tap the full potential of Martial Arts to create a better world. The Forum also celebrated people who used Martial Arts to make a difference, presenting the following with the TAFISA Martial Arts Awards for their outstanding efforts to build a better world: 

  • Ray Sweeney, UK
  • Leonid Ilushkin, Russia

The 1st TAFISA World Martial Arts Festival also celebrated delegations and organisations whose special contribution enhanced the Festival: 

Best Master ClassMas-Wrestling (Russia)
Preservation of TraditionVikings (Denmark)
Contribution to Russian Martial ArtsBuhe-barildaan (Russia)
Best PerformanceCossacks (Russia)
Contribution to the FestivalVolunteers
Best Traditional CostumesSilat (Malaysia)
Best Traditional MusicCapoeira (Brazil)
Best OrganiserUlcongress
Fair PlayHapkido (Korea)


Vikings demonstrating their traditional fighting method
Vikings demonstrating their traditional fighting arts


TAFISA would like to thank the Government of Ulyanovsk Region, Russian Union of Martial Arts, Ulcongress and the Organising Committee, all volunteers and delegations without whom the Festival would not have been so successful. 


Highlights from the Festival: 


Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4