Here Shokei Matsui is doing a “40 man kumite” where he fights 40 one and one half minute rounds against fresh opponents each time. Matsui eventually passed the “100 man kumite” challenge where he had to fight 100 continuous rounds against fresh opponents for each round.

Old school Kyokushinkai tournament with knees and throws allowed.

What Is Kyokushinkai Karate ?

Kyokushin karate was founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama. Oyama, who was Korean, but emigrated to Japan, studied both Goju and Shotokan karate , and combined these two styles into a style that contained the efficient straight line movements of Shotokan with the circular movements of Goju.

Kyokushin karate is different from other karate styles because it incorporates techniques from Mmuay Thai, judo, and boxing. Kyokushin karate also emphasizes physical fitness more than the other styles.

Oyama believed that karate, originally a true combat art, had become watered down, and wished to create his own style which could compete with any other martial art in the world. The training emphasizes physical condition and mental toughness. At the black belt level limited full contact is trained, where all punches and kicks are allowed to the body, while kicks (but not punches) are allowed to the face and head. No gloves or protective equipment is worn for this sparring, , other than a mouthpiece and cup.

Mas Oyama The Founder Who Fough Bulls With His Bare Hands

Oyama was a unique figure in martial arts. At age 20 he had already earned the 4th degree black belt in Karate. He spent long periods of time in isolation up in the mountains doing arduous solo training such as punching trees, throwing rocks and standing under cold waterfalls for long periods of time, along with intense mediation, in order to strengthen his mind and body.

Back when things like this were possible, he toured the United States and challenged any and all comers to get in the ring and fight him. He never lost , and usually required just one punch to finish each opponent. No fight lasted more than a few seconds.

Because fighting people got too easy, he fought over 50 bulls in the ring, killing 3 outright with a single punch. He was seriously hurt by one of these nulls and spent six months in the hospital.

Oyama invented the “100 man kumite” where top practioners will run a gantlet of 100 opponents for one and a half minute full contact runds. Oyama was the first person to get through this arduous trial, and he actually wanted had to continue to fight even more fresh opponents, but due to injuries, there was no one left for him to fight.

Kyokushin Versus Muay Thai

Oyama also led a group of 5 top Kyokushin fighters who traveled to Thailand to challenge the Thai fighters on their turf and under their rules. He won his own fight as did all but one of the other Kyokushin fighters. However, future attempts at challenging the Thais on their own turf were much less successful, with the majority of the bouts won by the Thais.
Oyama was so impressed by the Thai fighters that he added all of the Thai kicks to Kyokushin’s arsenal, and even modified the basic roundhouse kick to incorporate elements of the Thai roundhouse.

Oyama, like Bruce Lee and Yip Man, never appointed a successor, and after he died Kyokushin splintered into a number of organizations. Some of these decided to allow punches to the head, with gloves worn because Kyokushin fighters had often proven to be vulnerable to punches to the face.

Kyokushin tournaments have featured many exciting knock outs from kicks and several Kyokushin fighters have gone on to become champions in kick boxing competitions, most prominently Andy Hug, Sam Grecco, and Francisco Filho. It should be noted, however, that the Kyokushin fighters who entered these full contact kickboxing competitions used boxing punches, and not karate punches.

Kyokushin Classes and Training

Kyokushin Karate was my first martial art. I chose this style because I learned that Oyama had fought actual bulls in the ring. After college, when I moved to NYC, I studied from an adopted son of Oyama in Brooklyn. Training was pretty hard core. I remember many Saturdays when I was training there and I heard a loud “smack” when someone was knocked to the ground or even knocked out.

A typical class starts with bowing in, the recitation of the “Dojo Kun” , a statement of the philosophical and moral principles of the art, and a short period of mediation. Classes include warm up calisthenics and stretching.

Typically, all the basic strikes and kicks are practiced in every class both singly and in combination, Kyokushin believes that constant repetition of the basics is the only way to make karate practical. This is followed by the practice of forms, and/ or two man drills. At the end of the class everyone sits in a circle and the students all get to practice sparring, either against one another or against the instructor.

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