The name Kyokushin may mean nothing to the novice karate-ka, and often other stylists mention 'brutal' knock-down 'all-in' style fighting when they hear the name. Kyokushin is an enigmatic system of karate to say the least. Kyokushin was founded in the 1950s by Masutatsu Oyama (right). He had studied karate under Gichin Funakoshi, considered the founder of modern karate, in the Shotokan style and Oyama also trained with Yamaguchi Gogen in Goju Ryu style, he was also a highly proficient Judo-ka.
The young Oyama had studied the life of 17th century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi and followed his example of going into solitude in the mountains to perfect his art, on the advice of his then Goju master So Nei Chu. He came out of his solitude and travelled showing the power of his karate. Oyama toured the USA fighting all-comers and was undefeated. Oyama is also world-famous for his fight with a bull, which has becomae the stuff of folklore. Most genuine 'old-timers' concede that the myths of Oyama killing forty bulls are untrue, but they do agree that he fought one and did indeed chop the horn off of it. On returning to Japan Oyama set about building Kyokushin as we know it today.
From the humble beginnings of Oyama Rokudan Dojo in Tokyo, Kyokushin spread at an unprecedented rate. In the 1960s Muay Thai issued a challenge claiming Japanese karate was finished, only Kyokushin answered the challenge. Tadashi Nakamura, Akio Fujihira (aka Noboru Osawa) and Kenji Kurosaki travelled to Thailand and the Thai-boxers were defeated 2-1. The growth of Kyokushin spread throughout the world until at one time the IKO was the largest karate organization in the world under one man.
But what of the art itself? Kyokushin training is certainly not easy and is known for it's demanding stamina work and precision. In return it pays high dividends. The quality of Kyokushin karate-ka is acknowledged world-wide. Although famed for it's knockdown system of fighting, the heart of true Kyokushin lies in the basics and kata (pre-set forms). It is the driven perfection of these aspects that help to make the fighting and self-defence applications of Kyokushin so devastating.
Sadly, Sosai Oyama passed away in 1994, and his passing left much political turmoil for those close to him. Despite these problems most seasoned Kyokushin karate-ka will tell of a pride and camaraderie between eachother, regardless of country or political orientation or which group they belong, all are pleased and proud to be part of Kyokushin.
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