This page is meant to serve merely as a modest primer and is intended to answer the most basic of questions. To really understand what Kyokushin Karate really is you must experience it for yourself.
Now, by definition, Kyokushin means “The Ultimate Truth”. But what characterizes Kyokushin Karate? How can you tell it apart from the multitude of other karate styles? What makes it special? Ah, now those are good questions!
Kyokushin Karate is recognized by its philosophy of intense training, hard work, and bare knuckle fighting. In fact, Kyokushin karate is one of the few styles of karate that employs full contact sparring in the dojo as well as competition without any protective gear (save for groin cup and mouth guard).
In training Kyokushin Karate focuses on what is commonly called the 3 K’s: Kihon (basics), Kata (forms), and Kumite (sparring). And while not exclusive to the style, Kyokushin places high emphasis on conditioning the body to absorb vicious attacks – in fact, in many competitions you will see very little in the way of blocking punches aimed at the body. Kyokushin is also known for paradoxically banning punches and elbows to the face yet encouraging devastating head kicks (see video). And also for the prevalent use of elbows and knees, where many styles and school ban their use in sparring and competition.
Kyokushin, a History
Kyokushin Karate was founded by the late Masutatsu Oyama in 1964 with the creation of the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan (IKO) – even though he had been teaching under the Kyokushin name since the mid 50′s.
Prior to this, however, Mas Oyama trained extensively in several styles of martial arts including Goju Ryu Karate under So Nei Chu and Shotokan Karate under Gichin Funakoshi, whom many consider the father of modern karate. The influences of both arts on Kyokushin training and techniques are easy to pick out, particularly when observing Kata.
After the official formation of Kyokushin Karate, Oyama deemed it was time to spread his particular brand of hard-hitting gospel. He did this by hand-picking representatives and sending them to different cities and countries to hold exhibitions and matches to prove the power of his style. As a result, Kyokushin Karate has flourished tremendously since it’s founding.
Sadly, after his passing in 1994, the IKO fell into disarray over who would be it’s official successor and political in-fighting ensued. Subsequently several organizations have branched out independently; each staking their own claim to true legitimacy.