Kyokushin Karate, a powerful and disciplined martial art, has gained worldwide recognition for its rigorous training methods and emphasis on physical and mental strength.
This popular karate style has attracted practitioners from various backgrounds seeking personal growth, self-defense skills, and spiritual development.
In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of Kyokushin Karate, exploring its history, training methods, philosophy, and impact on its practitioners.
What Is Kyokushin Karate
Kyokushin is a full-contact style of karate developed in the 1960s in Japan. The name translates to “ultimate truth” and its origins come from two main karate styles Goju-Ryu and Shotokan.
Kyokushin Karate History
The history of Kyokushin begins in the 1950s when a famous karateka Mas Oyama decided to design a new style of karate.
While most other styles emphasize light contact and focus on the point fighting rules, Oyama had a different concept in mind.
His main goal was to create the first full-contact karate system that would be more realistic and effective than other styles.
The final result of his work was a style that focuses on:
- Kicks (low kicks, body kicks, head kicks)
- Punches to the upper body area below the neck
- Knee strikes
- Hard methods of training and a lot of full-contact sparring
- Striking without wearing gloves or shin pads
- Aggression, power, speed, and damage
In 1953, Oyama decided to open up his own dojo in Tokyo.
He used his dojo to train new instructors and promote his new version of karate.
In the following years, his dojo would gain a reputation for being one of the hardest schools in Japan.
Students used to spar hard and injure themselves constantly as a result.
The concept and training methods were physically more demanding and brutal than in any other karate style at the time, and Kyokushin quickly rose to prominence.
The biggest moment came in 1964 when Oyama decided to found the “Kyokushin Kaikan”, an official organization.
This also marks the birth of Kyokushin as an official style of karate, and from then on, Oyama would focus on expanding it in all parts of the world.
By the end of the 1960s, Kyokushin was already a well-established style of karate, and in 1969, the world witnessed the first “All-Japan Full Contact” tournament.
Kyokushin Karate Belts
Kyokushin Color Belt Levels: (Kyu Ranks)
- Mukyu – White belt
- 10th Kyu – Orange belt
- 9th Kyu – Orange belt with blue stripe
- 8th Kyu – Blue belt
- 7th Kyu – Blue belt with green stripe
- 6th Kyu – Yellow belt
- 5th Kyu – Yellow belt with orange stripe
- 4th Kyu – Green belt
- 3rd Kyu – Green belt with brown stripe
- 2nd Kyu – Brown belt
- 1st Kyu – Brown belt with black stripe
Kyokushin Black Belt Levels: (Dan Ranks)
- Shodan – 1st Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has one gold stripe
- Nidan – 2nd Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has two gold stripes
- Sandan – 3rd Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has three gold stripes
- Yondan – 4th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has four gold stripes
- Godan – 5th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has five gold stripes
- Rokudan – 6th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has six gold stripes
- Shichidan – 7th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has seven gold stripes
- Hachidan – 8th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has eight gold stripes
- Kyūdan – 9th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has nine gold stripes
- Jūdan – 10th Degree (Dan) Black Belt – The black belt has ten gold stripes
Kyokushin Karate Kata
Below is a full list of Kyokushin Karate Katas.
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono Ichi
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono Ni
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono San
- Kyokushin Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ichi – One of the “Kicking” Taikyoku katas
- Kyokushin Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ni – One of the “Kicking” Taikyoku katas
- Kyokushin Sokugi Taikyoku Sono San – One of the “Kicking” Taikyoku katas
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Ichi
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Ni
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono San
- Kyokushin Sanchin
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Yon
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Go
- Kyokushin Gekisai Dai
- Kyokushin Yantsu
- Kyokushin Tsuki No Kata
- Kyokushin Tensho
- Kyokushin Saiha or Kyokushin Saifa
- Kyokushin Kanku Dai or Kyokushin Kanku
- Kyokushin Gekisai Sho
- Kyokushin Seienchin
- Kyokushin Sushiho
- Kyokushin Garyu
- Kyokushin Seipai
Kyokushin Ura Katas – Ura katas are very similar to the same-named non-ura Kyokushin katas (i.e. Taikyoku Sono Ichi). However, ura katas contain spins when turning.
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono Ichi Ura
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono Ni Ura
- Kyokushin Taikyoku Sono San Ura
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Ichi Ura
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono Ni Ura
- Kyokushin Pinan Sono San Ura
Kyokushin Bo Katas – These katas use a Bo staff.
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Ichi
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Ni
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata San
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Yon
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Go
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Roku
- Kyokushin – Bo Kata Shichi or Nana
Kyokushin Karate Techniques and Training
Kyokushin Karate training consists of three main elements: technique, forms, and sparring.
These are sometimes referred to as the three “K’s” after the Japanese words for them: kihon (basics), kata (formalized sequences of combat techniques), and kumite (sparring).
Kyokushin Karate is famous for being one of the “harder” substyles of Karate.
This style of Karate allows full-contact sparring (kumite) and does not use any protective gear, except for a mouth guard and groin protection.
They do not even use gloves or protective headgear during tournament sparring events. Kyokushin does not practice Olympic-style “sports” sparring.
Kyokushin kumite allows kicks against an opponent’s head, body, and legs.
It also allows knee strikes and punches to an opponent’s body (but not to their head).
This focus on more realistic unarmed combat is exemplified by the “spirit” of Kyokushin which states “The heart of our karate is real fighting.
There can be no proof without real fighting. Without proof, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no respect.
This is a definition in the world of Martial Arts.”
This style of Karate is also famous for the “100-man kumite”.
This grueling sparring match consists of one man or woman fighting 100 rounds of kumite against 100 similar or higher level opponents (although some opponents may go multiple times if the match does not have significant numbers of participants).
The participant will fight each of the 100 opponents separately and one after another.
Each kumite round lasts for roughly one and a half to two minutes.
Kyokushin Philosophy and Values
Kyokushin Karate embodies a strong moral and philosophical framework.
The discipline emphasizes character development, self-discipline, and respect for others.
Practitioners are expected to adhere to a code of conduct that promotes humility, perseverance, and integrity.
The dojo, or training hall, serves as a place not only for physical training but also for cultivating a strong sense of community and camaraderie among practitioners.
The Kyokushin Spirit
The spirit of Kyokushin Karate extends beyond physical prowess and techniques.
The discipline instills a deep sense of mental resilience, fostering determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Practitioners are encouraged to push their limits, overcome challenges, and discover their inner strength.
This indomitable spirit is often tested through grueling training sessions, challenging belt examinations, and competitive tournaments.
Is Kyokushin Karate Effective
Kyokushin Karate is very effective especially for self-defense and street fights, since it is a full-contact style. It embraces a hard method of training and a lot of sparring sessions.
Along with the lack of gear, this can help any person to prepare for a real-life fighting scenario.
Further, fighters must put a lot of time and effort into drilling the moves.
Drilling helps them to stamp the moves into muscle memory and improve instincts for fighting.
So once in a street fight, a person will carry out the moves without even thinking about it.
Kyokushin techniques are useful in both close and distance fighting. In the pocket, fighters can land a barrage of nasty punches and vicious kicks to back off the attacker.
Also, they can use vicious elbow and knee strikes that can do much damage.
The biggest flaw of Kyokushin karate is the lack of punches to the head.
In the early days, Kyokushin did allow the punches to the head.
Yet, this was just too brutal since these strikes often resulted in serious head and knuckle injuries.
Kyokushin needed to change this to be accepted around the world.
So as you would expect, not many people wanted to train in a sport like that.
They didn’t want to include gloves either because that would harm the realistic part of the technique.
So elbow and hand strikes to the head are not allowed in both training and competition.
Yet, some karate schools allow punches and kicks to the head.
Fighters from these schools can compete in modified karate tournaments that allow punches to the head.
But, we must say that the majority of schools and tournaments forbid these strikes.
Kyokushin Karate stands as a testament to the power of martial arts in shaping individuals physically, mentally, and spiritually.
With its rigorous training methods, emphasis on full-contact fighting, and strong moral principles, Kyokushin Karate continues to attract practitioners seeking personal growth, self-defense skills, and a way to discover their inner potential.
By embracing the Kyokushin spirit and living the philosophy of the ultimate truth, practitioners of this martial art embark on a transformative journey that extends far beyond the confines of the dojo.
Hi, my name is Godwin. I am a passionate martial artist with black belts in Taekwondo and Karate. I have over 15 years of martial art experience. I created this platform to enable me to help you learn martial art the right way.