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‘Old’ School Karate Kyokushin

Since beginning the podcast and opening conversations around training it has raised some questions for me in regards to my own training.

This post is meant to open a dialogue, raise questions and gather feedback.

What do you believe is the purpose of your training?

MAS OYAMA THROWING AN OPPONENT

There is no question that Kyokushin is a Budo, with a focus on bettering oneself and character, cultivating an indomitable spirit, through hard training and overcoming personal obstacles. Which is a great purpose to have.

However, when I look at the origins of Kyokushin and the words / philosophies of the founder, Sosai Mas Oyama, there was also a focus on developing a martial art that was meant to be a force to be reckoned with, that could stand with any other martial form and be an ultimate form of self-defense, or Goshin-Jitsu (護身術).

Today however, there tends to be mostly a focus on the sport aspect of full-contact, or knock-down, fighting. Which of course is great! And Kyokushin is famous for it, but not everyone will compete, and for those who do, many won’t compete beyond an amateur level, and the others can only compete for so long before age catches up. So those who remain are left with the focus being the athletics and spirit, but should there be more?

Mas Oyama wrote dozens of books in Japanese (a few translated to English), and most had a focus on self-defense, utilizing the same components that make Kyokushin a formable force in sport full-contact knock-down tournament kumite. Utilizing kihon and applications of the kata in realistic training.

This isn’t meant to be a debate on the merits of kata (bunkai), but rather open the question of realistic self-defense training focus, in ADDITION to the sport tournament side.

Kihon and kata by themselves won’t make you a good fighter and we know that. However they do have use. They develop focus, muscle and strength, muscle memory, proper breathing, and coordination, plus much more. And that’s if we put aside the bunkai aspect of kata, which can be very good…. IF and ONLY …. drilled properly.

Kyokushin isn’t just a sport, and I don’t believe it was meant to be. Knockdown fighting is the sport side of it but not the only focus. Originally there was a great focus on street techniques (developing reflexes, strikes to vulnerable parts of the body, joint locks, throws, etc.) But we don’t see much of that anymore.

There are many reasons for this I believe, but primarily it was the focus on competitive training in the 1970s, to help build and spread the reputation of Kyokushin.

Bunkai is rarely trained in Kyokushin, and other styles of karate. Realistic bunkai is even rarer. Training bunkai enough that you can use the techniques, as well as you can the kumite techniques, is almost unheard of.

Mas Oyama believed that if you wanted to use karate effectively for self-defense, you had to train hard and fight hard. In addition to traditional Kyokushin kihon (basics) and kata (forms), with their self-defense applications, Mas Oyama incorporated jissen kumite (full-contact fighting) into his style, but not exclusively.

 

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