The Origins of Karate date back to a time when Buddist priests introduced Zen to the Chinese which added the meditative practices of Yoga and Zen to the primitive Chinese combat. Zen therefore is inseparably linked to Martial Art. ‘Kara te’ uses the kanji for ‘Empty hands’ 空手 and has been linked to various times in history where authorities forbade the populace to use arms.
In the early 20th century Gichin Funakoshi began to openly teach this form in Okinawa and Japan. Our Karate style has grown from that taught by the Karate Master Oyama Masutatsu (July 27, 1923 – April 26, 1994) and first written in ‘What is Karate’ in 1963. Kyokushinkai is the name given to the school of a full contact form of karate in response to the weak evolution of karate into a dance rather a form of self-defence or fighting. The word ‘Kyokushin’ signifies a Search for the Ultimate Truth also symbolised in the ‘Kanku’ for ‘Gazing to the Heavens’.
Kyokushin has influenced many of the "Full-Contact" styles of karate, emphasizing realistic combat, physical toughness, and true practicality in its training curriculum. The training consists of three main elements: technique (kihon), practice patterns (kata), and practical application (kumite). Our Karate is also informed by the Japanese head of World Zen Kyokushin, Hasegawa Soshi.
In Kanzen Karate dojo, the instructor and students all take part in hard, jiyu kumite, sparring to prepare them for full contact fighting. Kyokushin places high emphasis on full contact fighting often without any gloves or protective equipment. Kumite is used to train in the application of the various techniques within a fighting situation. Sparring is an important part of training in most Kyokushinkai, especially at the upper levels with experienced students. Although many effective techniques are learned, the nature of the training is controlled such that injuries are rare and those that cause long-term brain damage, common in boxing, are virtually non-existent. This makes the Kyokushin style of training very popular. Speed, movement and power are essential elements of sparring but in a training environment it is not the intention of practitioners to harm his/her opponent, rather to successfully execute the proper strike, and to defend against a strike.
Technically, Kyokushin is a ‘Point and Circle’ style, incorporating a successful blend of the linear techniques of the powerful Shotokan karate and the more circular movements of Goju-ryu with its strong Chinese influence. Hasegawa Soshi talks about efficient and somewhat conservative use of technique. The Self Defence techniques of the style draw much Japanese Jūjutsu.
Tournament fighting under knockdown karate rules is significantly different from and should not be confused with either the fitness or self-defence objectives. The aim is to down an opponent in a Sport Martial Art format. Full-contact sparring in Kyokushin is considered the ultimate test of strength, endurance, and spirit. As you progress in your karate training keep your head low (modesty), eyes high (ambition), mouth shut (serenity) and base yourself on filial piety.
"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants"
Kyoku meaning 'ultimate'
Shin meaning 'truth' or 'reality'
Kai meaning 'society' or 'association'
The symbol of Kyokunshinkai is Kanku derived from the Kata, the sky gazing form. The symbol captures meeting of fingers and thumbs and the strength of the wrists. The centre opening symbolises depth of perception, and the outer circle symbolises continuity. The study of Kyokushin Karate has many facets.
The fundamentals of Kyokushin are captured ‘Spirit of Osu’. The word ‘Osu’ probably comes from ‘oshi shinobu’ which means to persevere without being pushed. It implies a willingness to push oneself to the limits of endurance, to persevere under any conditions. It means determination and perseverance.
Kyokushin training is very demanding. You push yourself until you think you’ve reached your limit. When your body begins to tire your mind keeps pushing you. When your mind and will are fading, your spirit, the spirit of ‘Osu’ allows you to endure that adversity and to persevere.
Our Karate teaches us the spirit of ‘Osu’ only comes with hard training. We continue to perfect and polish our techniques til they can be executed as and when required and without thought. This training takes determination and perseverance – this is ‘Osu’. A karate-ka is not easily shaken by the blows of adversity; daily life is approached with the spirit of ‘Osu’.
Sosai had the expression of ‘sekijou juunen’ or ‘ten years on a rock’ to describe this sense of perseverance at all times.
We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm and unshaking spirit
We will pursue the true meaning of the Martial Way, so that in time our senses may be alert
With true vigour we will seek to cultivate a spirit of self-denial
We will observe the rules of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence
We will follow our religious principles and never forget the true virtue of humility
We will look upwards to wisdom and strength, not seeking other desires
All our lives, through the discipline of karate, we will seek to fulfil the true meaning of the kyokushin way