Wako (aka wokou and waegu) is a term used to refer to Japanese (but also including Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese) pirates who plagued the seas of East Asia from Korea to Indonesia, especially between the 13th and 17th centuries CE. Besides the disruption to trade, the devastation which befell coastal communities, and the many thousands of innocents who found themselves sold as slaves, the pirates caused significant tensions in diplomatic relations between China, Korea, and Japan throughout this period. Indeed, the pirates seriously damaged the reputation of Japan in the eyes of their East Asian neighbours in the medieval period. It was only after the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1582-1598 CE) had unified central Japan that the government was finally strong enough to effectively deal with the pirate scourge and put an end to their reign of terror.

Piracy on the High Seas

Wako translates as 'dwarf pirates' and although many were from Japan, the term was also indiscriminately applied to any mariners up to no good on the high seas and so could include pirates based on the coasts of Korea, Taiwan, and China, as well as Portuguese adventurers, to name but a few. There is even evidence that some pirates disguised themselves as Japanese to avoid detection as to where they sailed from. The Chinese called these pirates wokou and the Koreans waegu. Pirates had plundered ships across East Asia since at least the 8th century CE but it was the wako of the 13th century CE onwards that reached new depths of robbery, helped by the disruption in legitimate maritime trade which followed the Mongol invasions of Korea between 1231 and 1259 CE.

The most notorious pirate base was Japan's Tsushima Island where there were plenty of easily-defended inlets.

The most notorious pirate base was Japan's Tsushima Island (which also had legitimate ports) where there were plenty of easily-defended inlets. The island is rocky and mountainous so that residents struggled to provide enough food for themselves while the local feudal lords, the So, gained handsomely from sponsoring the marauders who seized goods on the high seas. Other important pirate bases in Japan were at Iki Island and Matsura.

At their peak in the 14th century CE, hundreds of pirate ships plagued the straits between Korea and southern Japan and made four or five major raids on the southern Korean peninsula each year. Many pirates even made it their business to plunder ships and coastal ports on the western side of the Korean peninsula, right up the northern island of Kanghwa. In the 15th and 16th century CE the coast of China became another target area. Pirates stole anything of value (for example, precious metals, swords, armour, and lacquerware) but especially bulk goods like cloth, grain and rice being shipped as tribute to the Chinese emperor.

Pirates would raid ports and coastal settlements with fleets of up to 400 ships carrying raiding parties of 3,000 men. Although they were only lightly armed - the preferred weapon being swords - they did form disciplined armies and they met little organised opposition. As the wako often seized innocents to be sold as slaves to feudal lords or Portuguese slave-traders, many farming communities withdrew further inland, even if this meant that the best agricultural land was abandoned. The risks to the wako, aside from a vigorous defence by rightful owners, included execution if they were caught by the authorities in China, Korea, or Japan.


One of the difficulties for the medieval authorities (and modern historians) was to identify who exactly were wako. The pirates did sometimes engage in legitimate trade and, doubtless, some traders indulged in the odd act of piracy. Savvy pirates also seized official documents such as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) tallies, or kango, which were designed to show the ship was a legitimate trader or tribute carrier. Part of the problem, too, was the pirates taking advantage whenever there was a decline in legitimate trade relations between China, Korea, and Japan, which happened frequently from the 12th century CE onwards depending on the internal events of each country. In this case, some feudal lords in all three countries were happy enough to endorse pirates as a means to increase their own revenues. It was also true that many wako, perhaps even the majority in the 16th century CE, were Chinese, many of them former traders disgruntled with the Ming government's domestic restrictions and taxes on trade. Korea also had its own share of indigenous pirates and another notable group were Portuguese traders who often collaborated with pirates in order to smuggle their goods into China.

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The Korean Response

In the 14th century CE, the Koreans assembled a fleet of ships armed with cannons to face the pirate scourge with a notable victory credited to Choe Muson (d. 1395 CE) against a large pirate fleet at the mouth of the Kum River in 1380 CE. In the battle, Choe Muson was able to employ cannons thanks to his tireless efforts to develop gunpowder. However, despite several more victories over the years by the Korean navy, including direct attacks on Tsushima Island in 1389 CE and again in 1419 CE, when 700 suspected pirates were executed, the marauders could not be completely eradicated. The Korean government imposed harsh penalties, including execution, for those caught collaborating with pirates, but they needed the Japanese government to do more from their side, and they sent multiple embassies to the Japanese court for that specific purpose.

The Chinese Response

The pirates caused enough problems for the Chinese to warrant three separate diplomatic missions to the Japanese court to see what could be done about them. As with the Korean missions, though, the real problem was the Japanese had little control over the pirate's bases, even if the Chinese began to insist trade agreements between themselves and Japan would depend on the latter government's efforts to keep the pirates in check. Then, as noted, Chinese pirates grew in number, only adding to the problem of securing the seas for legitimate trading vessels. Several groups of pirates even won battles against Ming armies sent to disband them. The Yongle Emperor (r. 1403-1424 CE) of the Ming Dynasty expressed everyone's frustration when he declared:

Ships could not readily reach them, nor could spears or arrows readily touch them. We could not move them by bestowing benefits on them; nor could we awe them by pressing them with our might.

(Huffman, 50-1)

Realising the difficulty of constantly patrolling vast areas of sea and removing the pirates from their well-protected bases, the Chinese largely preferred a policy of robust defence. Accordingly, forts were built along the most vulnerable areas of coastline and all maritime trade was banned. Essentially, any unofficial vessel could now be identified as a pirate ship. By the mid-16th century CE, an even more determined action was taken against the pirates. The Chinese reformed their tax system and, instead of military service, payment could be made in silver. From this revenue a defensive naval force was assembled to patrol the coast and sink any pirates they came across. Consequently, serious defeats were inflicted on the pirates by forces led by two noted Ming generals, Hu Tsung-hsien (d. 1565 CE) and Chi Chi-kuang (d. 1587 CE), and the capture of the most-wanted pirate leader, Wang Chih in 1557 CE.

The Japanese Response

In the 14th century CE, the weakness of the central government, still not as yet in control of all the islands of Japan, meant the authorities could do little to control piracy, even when requested to do so by embassies from neighbouring countries, starting with Korea's first in 1367 CE.

In 1443 CE, the Japanese and Korean governments did finally get together, and they signed the Treaty of Kyehae which sought to legitimise trade between the two countries, particularly between Tsushima Island and the Korean ports of Tonnae, Ungchon, and Ulsan, thus removing part of the pirate's income. Unfortunately, the treaty was ripped up in 1510 CE following disturbances caused by Japanese traders in all three Korean ports. A new deal, but much more limited in scope, was drawn up two years later. The watered-down treaty worked for a while, but the pirates returned to raid Korean ports in a major offensive in 1544 CE.

This content was made possible with generous support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

The Waco Siege: 6 Little-Known Facts

The Texas town of Waco has, for many Americans, become synonymous with tragedy𠅎ver since the 51-day Waco siege in 1993 between the federal government and an extremist religious sect called the Branch Davidians ended in a deadly fire.

The group, led by controversial self-proclaimed prophet David Koresh, was an offshoot of another group called Shepherd’s Rod, which was connected to the Seventh-day Adventists.

On February 28, 1993, in response to reports that the Davidians had been stockpiling illegal weapons at their compound, the Mount Carmel Center, in preparation for the end of the world, Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the property. Their goal: to search the premises and arrest Koresh for unlawful weapons possession. But the plan went south fast, with four federal agents and six Branch Davidians dying in a chaotic shootout. It’s still not clear who fired the first shot.

A photo of David Koresh resting beside a wooden cross as part of a monument erected in Waco, Texas by supporters of the Branch Davidian leader and founder. 

The FBI then became embroiled in a 51-day standoff with Koresh at the compound. During this time, negotiators arranged for the release of 35 Branch Davidians, including 21 children. But on April 19, 1993, in an attempt to lure Koresh and his followers out, agents took decisive action that critics later called extreme or unwarranted: They rammed the building with tanks and launched a tear-gas assault. The structure caught fire (the cause of the fire is still debated), and 76 Branch Davidians—which included 28 children𠅍ied in the flames.

Sometime during the fire, Koresh, then 33, died of a gunshot wound to the head. It remains unknown whether he killed himself or was shot by someone else. But that’s not the only unanswered question when it comes to the infamous siege. Here are some other debates around and other little-known facts about the Waco siege and Koresh:

Wako Chemicals USA Inc. started operations in the United States in 1981 , as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wako Pure Chemical Industries, Ltd., Japan. After Wako's worldwide operations were purchased by FUJIFILM, the business model was updated as synergies developed.

FUJIFILM Wako Chemicals continues to manufacture and sell a variety of specialty and laboratory chemicals in association with FUJIFILM Wako Pure Chemicals LTD of Japan, and in late-2020 FUJIFILM Wako Chemicals expanded its offerings of automated laboratory solutions with the integration of FUJIFILM Wako Automation Corporation.

FUJIFILM Wako Chemicals U.S.A. Corporation strives to assure our customers' and vendors' success through:

  • Integrating our international cultural attributes
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The True Story of ‘Waco’ Is Still One of Contention

It was 25 years ago this spring when the skies 13 miles northeast of Waco, Texas, filled with roaring fire in a government siege gone wrong. When the smoke cleared, more than 70 were dead.

Charges and countercharges followed the incident, from Congressional hearings to court cases. There were also a handful of TV movies about David Koresh, the leader of the religious cult called the Branch Davidians and the siege by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI.

The most detailed filmed version may be the miniseries that premiered last week on the Paramount Network, the cable outlet that up to recently had been Spike TV.

“Waco” boasts an impressive cast that includes Taylor Kitsch of “Friday Night Lights” sporting aviator frames and a mullet as Koresh. Opposite him is two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon as Gary Noesner, the head of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit Gary Noesner. Other cast members include “Supergirl” Melissa Benoit as one of Koresh’s wives and Camryn Mannheim of “The Practice” as the mother of a compound member.  

The premiere garnered 1.11 million viewers — a success for a smaller cable network in the first week of its new name. In the target 18-49 demo, it tied the episode of the much more publicized “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” the same night.

Early reviews of the miniseries have played up its historical accuracy - almost to a fault. The Guardian called it “re-enactment rather than dramatization, presenting these characters and images without developing them beyond their factual bullet points.” A writer for Forbes said it “ultimately suffers from feeling more like a history lesson than a drama.” And The New York Times said it was “a workmanlike summary of events that paints a largely, some say excessively, sympathetic portrait of Koresh and his followers.”

The filmmakers based the series on a pair of books by participants from inside and out of the siege —  Noesner’s 2010 Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator and the 1999 A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau, one of nine Branch Davidian survivors. Thibodeau is portrayed in the series by Rory Culkin.

Together the books, and other interviews done in preparation, were meant to show more of what was going on among those living inside the compound, as well as the squabbles between the ATF and FBI leading up to the tragedy.

“People talk about ‘David Koresh did all these horrible things, David Koresh kind of had this coming to him,’” says John Erick Dowdle, who created the miniseries with his brother Drew Dowdle. (Koresh was believed to have committed multiple accounts of child abuse and statutory rape within the compound, not to mention the illegal arms cache that ostensibly brought the compound under siege in the first place.) “But it never occurred to us to think, ‘Well, what about the other people in there, who were innocent of anything, who were good people trying to live a life they thought was positive and the correct way?’”

The Dowdle brothers, who previously made such big screen thrillers as No Escape, As Above/So Below and Devil, began by looking into Koresh’s backstory. And there was a lot to tell there.

Born Vernon Howell to a 14-year-old single mother, Koresh was severely abused as a child, had a learning disability and was bullied at school. His father abandoned the family for another teenage girl before Koresh was born his mother began living with a violent alcoholic.

Howell became a born-again Christian and joined his mother’s Seventh-Day Adventist church, before being expelled for wanting to marry the pastor’s young daughter.

He ended up with the Branch Davidian group, a Waco separatist cult that grew out of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists , which he eventually took over after a series of violent incidents. He changed his name to David Koresh in 1990 to refer not only to King David, but Koresh is the Biblical name for Cyrus the Great.

Rather than deal with Koresh’s backstory, however, the Dowdles focus on that of his followers, including Thibodeau. “What we read [in Thibodeau’s book] was so completely different than what we expected to read,” John Erick Dowdle told reporters this month at the TV Critics Association winter press tour.

“I just want the people inside to be humanized,” said Thibodeau, who was also at the press conference, in describing his book. “They died for what they believed in, whether you believe that or not. To me, they’re martyrs, and they shouldn’t just be demonized and hated.”

In “Waco,” in addition to empathy for those caught inside the compound, there is also an understanding for the FBI negotiator’s role, and how Noesner fought the militarization of law enforcement, a debate still raging today. Noesner bumps up against his colleagues who wanted to make a show of the siege, as a make-up of sorts for the bad headlines that came out of a similar standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, six months earlier.

In that incident, Randy Weaver, his family and a friend wouldn’t come out of their remote cabin to answer firearms charges. An initial shootout left a U.S. Marshal, and Weaver’s wife and son dead. Negotiations led to a peaceful surrender came 11 days later. (The miniseries places Noesner at Ruby Ridge as a dramatic embellishment the actual negotiator was not there in 1992.)

Both botched incidents caused death, inflamed the far-right and were cited by Timothy McVeigh in inspiring the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, which occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco fire. 

“It’s hard not to read both of these books and not have empathy for both sides, no matter what your preconceptions might be,” Drew Dowdle says. “Reading [Thibodeau’s] book, it was just learning who these people really were and putting names and faces to a lot of the people who perished, that was very eye-opening to us.”

But, he added, “You read [Noesner’s] book, too you just realize how difficult their challenge was in this situation as well.”

The Branch Davidians believed they were living in a time when Biblical prophesies and divine judgement was coming were imminent ahead of Christ’s second coming. A headquarters was first established near Waco in 1935 and at its height, 900 people moved there awaiting a sign from God.  Koresh rose to power as a young man in the 1980s, in part by taking its leader, a woman in her 60s, as a lover. When she died in 1986 at 70, there was a power struggle between her son and Koresh.

Upon ascending to the leadership position, Koresh never claimed to be Jesus, but did refer to himself as “the Son of God, the Lamb” and unlike his predecessors, began stockpiling arms, a departure from its pacifist belief system. About 130 people were living at the compound when the ATF first approached in early 1993. They had been tipped off after a UPS package of grenade casings en route to the compound had accidentally broken open.

The ATF tried to execute a search warrant relating to weapons violations and the sexual abuse allegations.

The miniseries begins with ATF closing in on Mount Carmel on Feb. 28, 1993. Then it flashes back nine months earlier to establish Thibodeau’s entry to the group — because Koresh’s rock group needed a drummer.

Unlike what is depicted in “Waco,” the two did not meet at a local bar sound check, where they hit it off and played “My Sharona.”

“I went to L.A. to be a drummer in a band,” said Thibodeau, who, unlike the smaller figure portrayed by Culkin in the film, is a big hulking man 25 years later.

He said he met Koresh “at Guitar Center” and he gave him a business card with some scripture on it and the drummer replied, “I’m not looking to be in a Christian band.”

“The way that they described it was that they had some insights to Scripture that was kind of deeper than Christianity,” Thibodeau said. “To my surprise, about a week later, I ended up calling them. It just kept pressing on me for some reason.”

Early that Sunday morning, 78 ATF agents approached in an 80-vehicle convoy to the compound. The raid was not called off when thought it was clear the Branch Davidians had been tipped off by a news vehicle asking for direction. The cultists prepared for the raid.

The question of who fired the first shot has long been in contention. Some ATF agents said they heard shots from within the compound. Another suggested an agent’s gun accidentally went off. But the miniseries runs with the assertion that the first shots were those fired at the compound dogs by the agents.

What began at 9:45 a.m. ended at 11:30 a.m. with four ATF agents dead and 16 wounded a fifth was killed later in the day. Five Branch Davidians were killed. It was the longest gun battle in U.S. law enforcement history. And the ceasefire came only because federal agents were running out of ammunition.

The siege consumes much of the third episode of the miniseries. The tense, 51-day standoff with the FBI, which took over government operations, culminates in a tear gas attack on April 19 and the apocalyptic fire that killed 76 at the compound including Koresh.

An internal Justice Department investigation concluded in 2000 that the fire was started from within other interpretations, including a 2000 film by then little-known conspiracy mongerer Alex Jones, America Wake Up (Or Waco) contend it was the government.

How “Waco” deals with the aftermath of the fire, who caused it and whether it was set by the cultists as part of a violent, Biblical-inspired endgames, remains to be seen -- just three episodes were made available to the press in advance. But based on the source material, Thibodeau has maintained that the Branch Davidians did not start the fire itself, as the resulting Justice Department report in 2000 claimed. And Noesner has little to add to that debate, having left Waco three weeks before the raid, after freeing 35 people, mostly children, from the compound.  

Many of the main characters of “Waco” are based on real people, including Koresh’s lieutenant Steve Schneider (Paul Sparks), local radio personality Ron Engleman (Eric Lange) and the compound lawyer Wayne Martin (Demore Barnes). But John Leguizamo’s character — an ATF agent that got close to the compound by moving next door — is named Jacob Vazquez instead of Robert Rodriguez, who was the actual undercover ATF agent.

As to whether the tragedy could have been avoided, Thibodeau says he thinks Koresh “could have been reasoned with.”

“He was always a reasonable individual the entire time that I’ve known him,” Thibodeau says of Koresh. “I think that what happened was the ATF messed up horribly bad on the first day. And then the FBI came in, and the miscommunication was so profound that both sides felt they were being lied to. And over the course of the 51 days, every day there was a news conference, and every day they were calling us a cult, demonizing us.”

Controlling the message on the outside, Thibodeau says, meant “the people inside were forgotten about, and they were just crazy cult leaders that deserved what they got. And that’s really too bad.”

As a negotiator, Noesner expected Koresh to renege on some of his promises as a normal part of the process. But “at Waco, our on-scene commander and the tactical commander took those behaviors in a very negative way,” he says. “Then they would take actions that would the only ratchet up things with David. So it was a very complex tragedy.”

For Kitsch, portraying Koresh “was kind of a hard-learning experience, to be honest. I’ve never kind of played anybody like this or remotely close.”

But even after all the research he did, studying audio tapes, recruitment materials and literature, Kitsch says. “There are still things that I’ll never have answers to, and I don’t think any of us will.”

Koresh told his followers he was the Messiah — but he may not have believed it himself.

FBI agents told FRONTLINE that any Branch Davidians who wanted to leave the compound had to undergo an “exit interview” with Koresh, who would remind the wayward follower that to abandon him was to reject salvation.

But he may not have actually believed this himself, according to one negotiator who engaged Koresh in conversation during the standoff. In transcripts of his conversation with Byron Sage, an FBI negotiator, Koresh danced around the question:

SAGE: And so you are now claiming clearly and simply that you are the Christ.

KORESH: I am saying that no man can know me nor my father unless they open their book and give a fair chance in honesty and equity to see the seals.

After that conversation, Sage told FRONTLINE he was convinced Koresh was lying. “I tell him that I am absolutely confident in my salvation and he’s not in a position to challenge it,” he said. “Now, if anyone was in a position to try to challenge my faith as a Christian, it would be someone that perceives himself to be Christ. He does not assume that posture. From that point forward, it is absolutely patently clear in my mind what we’re dealing with. This guy is not delusional. He is not a Messianic complex. He does not buy off on his own con.”

The American involvement in WWI brought forth numerous manufacturers who began working to meet the heavy demand of war materials demanded in order to meet the needs of the U. S. Government. The United States was far behind the European nations in terms of aviation development and it was in this field, the founders of the Waco Aircraft Company first became acquainted.

Elwood J. Junkin and Hattie Meyers Weaver Junkin Clayton Brukner

Clayton J. Brukner and longtime friend Elwood J. “Sam” Junkin had both dabbled in the aviation field prior to America’s involvement in the war back in Michigan by building several gliders and even taking flying lessons. Seeking opportunities in aviation, they both moved east and went to work for the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company in Nutley, New Jersey and then to the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company in Buffalo, New York. It was here that they became acquainted with several men who would play a prominent role in the formation of the Waco Aircraft Company. While working for Curtiss, Clayt and Sam became acquainted with Harold C. Deuther, Charles W. Meyers, and George E. “Buck” Weaver.

Buck Weaver, test pilot and co-owner and namesake of Weaver Aircraft Company (WACO).

During their off hours, Brukner, Junkin and Deuther began working on a single-seat flying boat powered by a 15 h.p. Hendee engine at the Haley Building at Curtiss. WWI ended in 1918, but the trio decided to remain in Buffalo to finish the flying boat. Charlie Meyers and Buck Weaver decided to seek fortune elsewhere and moved to Lorain, Ohio to form the Ohio Aviation School at Woodruff Field where they invited the trio to join them. Finishing the flying boat in 1919, they began testing but found it was unable to “unstick” itself from the water due to the inadequate power of the engine. Undaunted, Brukner, Junkin and Deuther loaded up the flying boat in a truck driven by fellow co-worked Ed E. Green and moved to Lorain, Ohio to continue testing. Arriving in Lorain on August 10, 1919, they rented a space upstairs in Carek’s Dance Hall and began designing two new aircraft. It was at that time they decided to form the DBJ Aeroplane Company.

The first design was a small single-place biplane known as the DBJ “Scout” powered by the 15 h.p. Hendee that had powered the unsuccessful Baby Flying Boat, as the first model had become known. The “Scout” was completed and was successfully flown but was damaged in an accident while being hopped by Brukner and not rebuilt. The second design was a larger, two-place flying boat powered by a water-cooled inline engine of 40 h.p. This airplane was also completed in short order but it too was not successful in becoming airborne. A third design was begun but soon abandoned due to lack of funds and the group joined Meyers and Weaver in their barnstorming adventure in order to raise the necessary money to keep building airplanes.

In November of 1919, it was decided to merge the assets of the informal DBJ Aeroplane Company into the Weaver Aircraft Company. They commenced work on a totally new design at Carek’s Dance Hall that would become known as the “Cootie”. The “Cootie” was a high-wing parasol-type aircraft powered by a two-cylinder Lawrance A-3 engine of 28 h.p. at 1400rpm. By February 1920, the “Cootie” was completed and was ready for testing. With Buck Weaver at the controls, the airplane was quickly airborne. Buck flew the airplane around locally for about 20 minutes. Returning to the field, a ground fog had begun to arise. As Buck came in to land, one of the wheels settled into a frozen rut and Buck lost control and crashed. The airplane was badly damaged and Buck was badly injured as well when his face smashed into the instrument panel. While Buck was recovering, work began on a second “Cootie” during April 1920 and this time it was redesigned as a biplane. The airplane flew well but they were unsuccessful in finding a buyer.

How did the Waco standoff end?

During the 51-day standoff, the FBI was able to secure the release of 44 people, according to the agency&rsquos records. Koresh had 117 conversations with FBI negotiators that lasted about 60 hours, authorities said. But negotiations stalled when Koresh delayed his surrender, and tensions heightened on April 19, 1993 when the FBI began moving their tanks closer to the complex and throwing tear gas inside. Amid the chaos, a fire erupted and engulfed the building.

Koresh was among the 75 people found dead in the aftermath of the blaze. Many of the deceased had fatal gunshot wounds to the head, chest and face, authorities said. Koresh had a gunshot wound in the middle of his forehead. Among those killed were a 3-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed in the chest and two other minors who suffered fatal blows to the head, according to the FBI.

David Thibodeau, one of only nine Branch Davidian members to survive the fire, told TIME in a recent interview that he believes the dead Branch Davidians were shot by the FBI. (The FBI claims no law enforcement officer had fired a single bullet since the initial shootout.) Thibodeau said it&rsquos also likely some of the Branch Davidians may have shot each other to prevent a slower, more painful death in the fire.

Okinawan at Heart

Early pirates were men from Kyushu, Japan and the Inland Sea. They often worked for powerful feudal Japanese leaders. They took shelter from the ruling authorities in defensible inlets in southern Japan. From there they sailed to Korea, China and Southeast Asia to attack or pillage. The Chinese called them wako, meaning "Japanese pirates."

Okinawa Threatened

In 1527, Naha was under threat of a serious attack from pirates. The average p irate ships typically held 200 to 300 men, and sometimes they would band together to make total manpower strength in the thousands – enough to invade and control a port town.

Women’s Hand Tattoos and Pirate Legends

As this legend goes, because the Okinawan ladies knew that Japanese men hated tattoos, they started placing tattoos on the back of their hands so that they would not be desired by the pirates who came to kidnap them and sell them to pleasure houses in Japan.

Okinawan Woman's Hand Tattoos Source: Okinawa Information.com

Wako Are Not Just Japanese Anymore

By 1530, the civil war in Japan was fully underway, and Japan’s control of its ports was extremely weak. Japan had very poor relations with China. Piracy went up as result.

From the 1530’s to the 1540’s Chinese merchants, frustrated with the ban on trade and travel, set up bases in Kyushu to sell expensive Chinese silks for silver. This activity violated China’s bans on trade. Even though these illegal traders were now a mixture of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, the Chinese government still referred to them all as wako.

From 1545 to 1563 piracy grew significantly. There were continuous raids along all coastlines. Even Nanjing was attacked. Raiding parties varied in size from small groups of men, to as large as 4,000 to 5,000 men. Pirate activity peaked in 1555.

Over time, attacks spread to south China and beyond. More and more people who were thieves and violent criminals joined the wako ranks, not just traders and smugglers.

Naha Installs Permanent Harbor Defenses

The pirate situation was getting so bad that Sho Sei had two forts built on either side of the entrance to Naha harbor, called Yarazamori and Miei. Construction began in 1551 and was completed in 1553. These fortresses had cannons, and an iron chain that linked them and stretched across the entrance to the harbor to prevent entry of hostile ships.

Firearms Enter the Picture

By the early 1550's, the pirates were now routinely using arquebuses in their raiding parties. An arquebus is a smooth-bore muzzle-loading firearm used in the 15 th to 17 th centuries. It is a forerunner of the musket.

Arquebuses were first introduced to Japan in about 1542 via an Okinawan trading depot on Tanegashima Island near southern Kyushu, brought in by the Portuguese from Europe. Until modern times, guns in Japan were often referred to as simply "Tanegashima."

Japanese Arquebuses Source: Wikipedia

Piracy Fades Away

In 1567 the Ming Court lifted its ban on trade. This allowed many wako to now become "legitimate businessmen" in China’s eyes. Those who still were involved in illicit trade moved their base camps from Kyushu to either Taiwan or the Philippines.

In 1588, Hideyoshi banned piracy in Japanese ports, helping to reduce the threat. Later, Tokugawa put in place stricter controls to stem the problem.

By 1700, most wako activity was gone. This was due not only to better control of Japan’s ports, but also due to an increased presence of European traders.

20 Graphic Images of the Waco Siege of 1993

ATF at Waco Siege. spin FBI snipers with heavy equipment , .50 cal Barret rifle, Mt. Carmel, March 1993. copsproductions A team of armed FBI agents get off a pickup truck during the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco in 1993. Getty A law enforcement official watches as an armored personnel carrier is deployed from the command center. Houston Chronicle M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles at Mount Carmel. Bizarrepedia Waco siege on the final day, April 19, 1993. Bizzarepedia Waco compound burning. April 19, 1993. JSTOR Waco siege aftermath. gutsandgore Fourth Anniversary of Waco Siege. NBC

Wako - History

WAKO’s History is tightly connected with the history of Kickboxing in the western world. Already in 1970, WAKO’s legend, Joe Lewis had his first “Kickboxing fight” against Greg Baines in the USA. This was the first fight where boxing gloves were used and the name Kickboxing was mentioned in the announcement. But it was not until 1974 that the first official “World Championship in Full Contact” took place in Los Angeles. Joe Lewis and Mike Anderson were the main organizers at that time. WAKO legends Bill Wallace, Jeff Smith and Joe Lewis were the first Full Contact World Champions. Creating a new, lasting and strong World Organization was not easy during those turbulent times in the martial art world. It was primarily George Brueckner and Mike Anderson who had the vision and the initiative to create a new “World All-Style Karate Organization” – in short “WAKO”. WAKO started its activity in Europe in 1976 and was founded in Berlin, Germany on February 26th, 1977.

The founder was Mr. Georg Bruckner from Berlin, who promoted the first ever World Championships in semi and full contact karate (as initially the discipline was called in those days) back in 1978 with 110 competitors representing 18 countries. WAKO immediately created the rules and regulations for the new fighting sports including punches (hand techniques) and kicks (leg techniques) for amateur fights with maximum use of safety equipment, the new term KICKBOXING was officially adopted to define the sport and WAKO started to act, since the very beginning, as the authentic
Kickboxing Federation in the world. From 1984 till 2013, WAKO was leaded by Mr. Ennio Falsoni (Italy). He organized and consolidated WAKO as respectable International Sports Organization. World Championships were held every two years in different parts of the World. Now, after decades of passionate work, Mr. Ennio Falsoni is Honorary President of WAKO.

After a period of acting presidency (2013-2015), on November 2015 in Dublin, Ireland, Prof. Borislav Pelević (Serbia) was finally elected as WAKO President till 25th October 2018, when Prof. Pelevic suddenly passed away. On the sudden demise of Prof. Pelevic, Mrs. Francesca Falsoni has been elected by the Board of Directors of WAKO unanimously in Maribor, Slovenia, on 19th November 2018 as Interim President. Thereafter, Mr. Roy Baker, President – WAKO European Kickboxing Federation & Vice President – WAKO (IF) has been newly elected by the Extraordinary General Assembly in Milan, ITALY, on 02nd February 2019 as President – WAKO (IF)

WAKO Kickboxing Today :
Kickboxing is a modern contact fighting sport created on the basis of many traditional combat sports and martial arts. Kickboxing is a unique Western response to many Eastern martial arts. It can be practiced on competitive or recreational level depending on the aspirations of the kickboxer, but for sure it is a sport designed to improve your overall health, strength and endurance. Today WAKO counts on 129 affiliated nations in the 5 continents, of which over 90 are officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority. WAKO kickboxing has 7 competitive disciplines, three ring and four tatami disciplines.

Ring disciplines : Full contact, Low kick, K-1 Rules.
Fighting area is the ring. Each bout consists of three two minute rounds with a minute break between each round. The intention of kickboxer is to defeat his opponent with legal techniques which must be delivered with full power.

Tatami disciplines : Point fighting, Light Contact, Kick Light and Musical forms (with and without weapons). Fighting area is the tatami. The intention of kickboxer is to defeat his opponent with legal techniques which must be delivered with controlled power. Each round is two minutes with a minute break between the rounds but number of rounds is different and it depends of the discipline.

Nowadays there are more than 4.000.000 practitioners in more than 40.000 clubs all over the globe. WAKO is promoting Bi Annually Continental and World Championships (in all seven disciplines) and organizes World and Continental Cups and Open tournaments.

WAKO is Officially Recognized By:
IOC – (International Olympic Committee) Since November 30th, 2018
GAISF – (Global Association of International Sports Federations) Former SportAccord,
IWGA – (International World Games Association),
ARISF – (Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations)
FISU – (International University Sports Federation),
WADA – (World Anti-Doping Agency),
CIFP – (International Fair Play Organization),
OCA – (Olympic Council of Asia),
IWG – (International Working Group of Women in Sport),
Peace and Sport.

As the World Kickboxing governing body responsible for creating, interpreting, managing, coordinating, improving, promoting and organizing activities in all the 5 Continents, WAKO has finally reached the goal of hundred thousand of kickboxers in the World, in fact November 30th, 2018, will remain in our sports history as one of the milestones, because the sport of Kickboxing was granted provisional recognition by the IOC Executive Board. The decision was taken by the IOC Executive Board in Tokyo Japan on 30th November 2018 upon the IOC Sports Department’s recommendation. Kickboxing under the world governing body of WAKO applied for recognition as an IOC sport in 2016 and has underpinned its values alongside IOC by the WAKO to foster, develop and promote the Olympic values.

WAKO ensures development in-line with the Olympic Movement and its various Charters, whose principles are integrated into all documents and policies of WAKO organization.