Kyokushin in brief


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  • Kyokushinkai Karate officially came into being around 1964. Its founder, Masutatsu Oyama, had been developing it since the early 1950's, having initially trained in Kempo as a child, then in Shotokan under Gichin Funakoshi, Goju Ryu under So Nei Chu, and Judo. Kyokushinkai means The Society of the Ultimate Truth.
  • It rapidly gained in popularity, to the extent that it currently has a worldwide membership of over 10 million. It soon became known as "The strongest karate", not only because of the incredible feats of strength and endurance that Mas Oyama performed, but also because of the rigorous requirements of the training and tournaments - i.e. the karate is also strong, not just its practitioners bodies and minds..
  • In 1994, Mas Oyama died leaving behind a very confused organisation. While on his deathbed, he apparently spontaneously appointed Akiyoshi (Shokei) Matsui, then 5th dan, as his successor. Qualified though Matsui was, both in Kyokushin and in management, many of the higher ranked members and Branch Chiefs of the organisation took exception to this. As a consequence, there has been a number of rifts in the Japanese organisation, which have propagated through to the rest of the Kyokushin world.
  • Australia had already previously experienced some internal divisions, and the Japanese schism increased those problems. As a consequence, some of Australia's yudansha decided to ally themselves with Matsui. Since then, there have been a number of further splits in the organisation. Some groups have chosen to join other Japanese based groups, some of which are spin-offs from the spin-offs, and a number have even chosen to go independent, since they had a number of dojo under their aegis already.
  • Another group decided to ally themselves with Hanshi Steve Arneil of Great Britain, who originally left the Japanese Kyokushin fold in 1991 to form his own International Federation of Karate (IFK). However, he still calls his karate by the name of kyokushin, and he still teaches it as it was originally taught to him by Mas Oyama. Hanshi Arneil was also the first person to complete the the 100 man kumite after Mas Oyama.
  • There are numerous other Kyokushin-based styles that have been started by karateka who had achieved relatively high rank under Mas Oyama. Among the more notable are Ashihara, World Oyama Karate, and Seido-kaikan. A comprehensive, but by no means complete, list of offshoots can be found on the Flavours of Kyokushin page. It is also noteworthy that many of those who completed the 100 man kumite are founders of their own styles.

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