What is Kyokushin Karate?

To understand this we must first review our concept of Karate. Karate appears fearful and destructive to many people. Movies have contributed to popularizing Karate in the wrong way. There are also many people who think that Karate is only a type of calisthenics or, perhaps, even a type of dance. This shows undeniably the lack of a proper view of what Karate really is.

Karate is a martial art, for many people it is a way of life, and it shares the common aim with Judo, Kendo, Aikido, the tea ceremony, calligraphy, and Japanese flower arranging of cultivating through physical and spiritual training. It is also within reason to claim that Karate, as the original martial art, through physical and spiritual training and discipline, makes the impossible possible, even to the unarmed, and helps one in pursuing the aim of his life. A physical training so strict naturally involves a demanding psychological training as well. Karate is a method of unifying the body and spirit and of making human life at once broader and deeper.

"Karate" is a combination of two Japanese words, "Kara" meaning empty or open and "Te", meaning hand, and is therefore used to describe a style of unarmed combat. Karate not always had this meaning of empty hands, this modern phrase started in a meeting of the Okinawan masters sponsored by an Okinawan newspaper, at which the use of the T'ang character in the word Karate was discussed. The ideograph for Kara was altered to erase the Chinese connection for political reasons. So, the character " T'ang" (Kara) was replaced for "Empty" (Kara).

It is generally accepted that the origins of karate are to be found in India(525 A.D.). The credit is given to a Buddhist priest named Daruma Taishi,also known as Bohdidharma, who was the third child of a king and a brilliant student of Zen. Daruma studied the attacking techniques of animals and insects and the forces of nature, and, combining these with a special breathing technique, he created the basis for a legendary system of weaponless fighting and mental concentration. Daruma created in China the Shao-Lin temple in the province of Honan and in that monastery he instructed other monks in his particular style of unarmed combat.

The system developed at the temple gradually disseminated throughout Asia, spreading to Okinawa, Korea and Mongolia. By 1130 A.D., aspects of this system had even been incorporated into the indigenous military disciplines of geographically and culturally isolated Japan.

The Asia fighting arts were historically taught and refined in secrecy, as their practice was routinely prohibited in different regions. Consequently, various regionally and family-based styles and schools evolved, one of these being the Kempo style of Okinawa.

By 1901, Kempo was being taught openly in Okinawa, and in 1916, was demonstrated in Japan by master Gichin Funakoshi. There, under the name of Karate, practical applications of the system were further refined and united with the Zen-based philosophy of the Japanese disciplines. The popularity of karate as both a martial art and a sport spread quickly in Japan and beyond, contributing to the development of diverse systems and schools.

Kyokushin Karate is a discipline through which practitioners may find clues to assist them in their own spiritual development and self-exploration. It is also, importantly, a martial art, encompassing 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.

"Kyokushinkaikan" is comprised of four Japanese words:

Japanese word Symbol Meaning

Kyoku

Ultimate

Shin

Reality or truth from within

Kai

To meet, join or associate

Kan

Temple, sanctuary, school

The internationally recognized symbol of Kyokushin Karate, Kanku, originates from the kata Kanku Dai. In this form, the hands are raised to the sky with the fingers touching. The logo interprets the fingers as the points implying the peaks, representing the wrists as the wide sections, signifying power. The center represents infinity and the circle that encloses the parts, continuity and circular motion. It is the utilization of this circular movement in the execution of techniques that distinguishes Kyokushin Karate from the traditional styles of Karate that rely on simple linear motion.

Kyokushin Karate is characterized by requiring of its participants, tenuous training, conditioning and realistic contact while sparing. Kyokushin karate-ka believe this contact is necessary in order to fully appreciate the resiliency of the human body and spirit and to prepare for any serious confrontation. The word "OSU" and the phrase "osu no seishin" (perseverance under pressure) succinctly summarize the essence of the Dojo Kun, written by Sosai Mas Oyama and Eiji Yoshikawa.

Kyokushin philosophy is further reflected in the following maxim: "... One Thousand days of training, A beginner; Ten thousand days of training, A master." Masutatsu Oyama


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