Kyokushin Karate, Origins
What is Kyokushin?
“Kyokushin” is comprised of two Japanese words, Kyoku
(ultimate) and shin (reality or truth from
within). Kyokushin is a full-contact bare-knuckle style of karate.
At one level, Kyokushin Karate is a discipline through which practitioners may find
clues to assist them in their own spiritual development and self-exploration. As
a martial art it encompasses philosophical considerations of life and death, struggle
and survival. It is a practical form of self-defense, emphasizing (at the initial
stages) kicks, punches, blocks and body movement. It is an intense physical activity,
which directly benefits mental conditioning. It is characterized by requiring strenuous
training, conditioning and realistic contact while sparring. Kyokushin karate-ka
believes this contact is necessary in order to fully appreciate the resiliency of
the human body and spirit and to prepare for any serious confrontation.
Kyokushin Karate is not simply a form of self-defense or exercise that happens to
involve kicking and punching. The distinguishing characteristic of martial arts,
including Kyokushin Karate, is the central role accorded spiritual development.
A true karate-ka takes the physical skills, discipline and power of concentration
developed at the dojo and applies them to work, family and social life. In this
way, karate is integrated into the fabric of our lives, not kept separate. So, we
can say that the way of karate is the way of everyday life.
The discipline of Kyokushin Karate, in particular, demands that the practitioner
push the bounds of his or her physical and mental abilities to expand the individual’s
self-knowledge and spiritual awareness. A multitude of challenges await the Kyokushin
karate-ka: training is intensely physical, culminating (at a more advanced level)
in realistic fighting and self-defense practice. Absolute concentration and mental
focus must be developed to overcome fear, fatigue and distraction; only in this
way can the karate-ka avoid the real danger of injury inherent in the training activities.
These challenges comprise the foil on which the Kyokushin karate-ka sharpens his
or her resolve. In rising to meet them, the karate-ka initiates and perpetuates
a process of self-discovery and personal growth. It is that process that constitutes
the essence of Kyokushin Karate.
It should be clearly understood that the spirit of Kyokushin Karate is to fight
to overcome oneself, and not others.
Some Aspects of Kyokushin Karate Training
Kyokushin Karate emphasizes the individual’s spiritual development rather than winning
or losing in accordance with a set or arbitrary rules. The measurement of an individual’s
performance in relation to others is immaterial; the concern is always with the
practitioner’s progress in facing and overcoming his or her own individual limitations,
fears, doubts, etc.
Cooperation, not competition, is the key word. Those who have more should share
with others, giving advice and encouragement. The real competition is with oneself.
The only requirement is that one gives the absolute best effort at all times.
When viewed exclusively in the context of combat, and training for combat, it will
initially appear that limitations are primarily related to the individual’s size,
strength, weight, age or speed. Only over time do the more fundamental, self-imposed
limitations inherent in the individual’s self-definition become apparent and, consequently,
resolvable. Confidence, determination, focus and intensity develop from the individual’s
struggle with those experiences, both in and out of the dojo.
Although an individual will have to attain a certain level of physical fitness and
social maturity before the practice is safe and beneficial, everyone has the ability
to achieve these states and prepare themselves for instruction in Kyokushin Karate.