Kyokushin fighters in a knockdown karate tournament

Kyokushin fighters in a knockdown karate tournament

Kyokushinkai is a style of karate founded by Masutatsu Oyama (1923-1994).

Masutatsu Oyama trained with several of the greatest karate instructors in Japan during the period between the World Wars, and graded to a high level. But he was dissatisfied with the karate he was being taught. He felt it was not practical enough, and had become too stylised and sanitised. He wanted to return to true “budo” karate – a fighting style that was primarily aimed at learning how to effectively disable a genuinely aggressive opponent.

The style of karate he developed was originally known as Oyama Karate, but he later named it Kyokushin. In Japanese, ‘kyoku’ means ultimate, and ‘shin’ means truth.

As part of this development he struggled to find a method of practising his practical karate without his students seriously injuring each other. Eventually he developed a form of sport karate called knockdown fighting. Although the techniques allowed in competition are limited, they are delivered with full power and without protective equipment. In this way students can learn to give (and take) full power attacks to the body and limbs. Full power kicks to the head are allowed. But punches and elbows to the head and face are prohibited because they fight with bare knuckles – no gloves.

You can watch numerous examples of knockdown fighting on YouTube by searching ‘kyokushin’ or ‘kyokushinkai’.

Knockdown competition is not for everyone. But everyone can learn the Kyokushin training methods, techniques and conditioning exercises to help them to become the toughest fighter they can be.