History of Kyokushin Karate

I start this chapter in the present time (2018) with the organisation which is, in my oppinion, very important for the future of KYOKUSHIN KARATE, namely the Kyokushin World Union (KWU). In 2011 three international federations decided to work together in the Kyokushin World Union (KWU), under the motto 'Time to be united!'. Kyokushin World Federation (KWF - Hanshi Loek Hollander), International Karate Federation (IFK - Hanshi Steve Arniel) and Kyokushin-kan International Karate Organization (KIKO - Hanshi Hatsuo Royama). In 2015 the KWU and the World Karate Organization Shinkyokushinkai (Hanshi Kenji Midori), agreed to work together.

KYOKUSHIN was officially founded by Sosai Mas Oyama in 1964 and named the International Karate Organisation (IKO). At the end of my first active period of KYOKUSHIN in 1992, the four Hanshi's played an active role in the IKO-organisation. After the death of Sosai Mas Oyama in 1994, they and some of his apprientices formed their own organisations. Nowerdays there are a lot of braches, but not all of them remained true to the codes of Sosai Mas Oyama.

I strongly support the goals of Kyokushin World Union as they want to unite the international organizations of different schools and Kyokushin directions in one movement and revive and preserve the school of Sosai Mas Oyama, and conduct a unified Kyokushin World.


  1. Start of the International Karate Organisation (1964)
  2. Mas Oyama's IDEAL
  3. Period after 1994 until 2015 (the moment i started my 2nd Karate-life in 2016)
  4. Current situation (2018)

1. Start of the International Karate Organisation (1964)

KYOKUSHIN was founded and created by Masutatsu Oyama, originated what is known today as 'Full Contact Karate'. In 1953, Masutatsu Oyama opened 'Oyama Dojo' in Tokyo but continued to travel around Japan and the world giving martial arts demonstrations to spread the word of his art and popularize his would-be style. His infamous demonstrations included the fighting and killing of live bulls with his bare hands. He became known as 'Bull-Killer' and several films, ‘manga’ and folktales were based on his life story. Oyama’s first dojo was located outdoors in an empty lot but eventually moved into a ballet school in 1956. Oyama’s own curriculum quickly developed a reputation as a tough, intense, hard hitting but practical style.

Traditional Karate in that time was non-contact and while at it's peak of recognition, Oyama claimed that the true way of Budo Karate was in the actual physical contact. Renounced by the Japanese karate community, he traveled overseas to challenge his skills and brought life to his ideals. When he returned from his long journey and endeavors, he named his karate 'Kyokushin', which means the 'Ultimate Truth' or 'True Way'. In 1964, he founded the International Karate Organization (IKO) Kyokushin-kaikan as the entity to collectively represent his karate as a worldwide organization.

The spirit of Kyokushin is based in rigorous and lifelong training. Its motto is 'head high, eyes low, ears open, mouth shut'. Kyokushin Karate provides a foundation for improving physical and mental discipline and is intended to function as a contribution to society.

The styles at the time offered serious classical practice of time-honored technique, but little practical application opportunities. It was Oyama’s belief that in order to know oneself and one’s own strengths and weaknesses, one had to know a real fight.

Mas Oyama's IDEAL

In the philosophy of Mas Oyama all his students will practice Kyokushin Karate as Budo Karate 武道空手. The Budo discipline is known for its hard but honest form and is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training. Through the heavy training you will become physically and mentally very strong, you learn to control yourself, with the result: more confident and more responsibility. So Kyokushin Karate is a way of life that transcends the physical aspects of training.

The philosophy of Budo (the 'Martial Way') is also evident in the name that Mas Oyama chose for his karate style: Kyokushin 極真, which means 'Ultimate Truth'. It is also reflected in the Dōjō Kun 道場訓 (Training Hall Oath), in Mas Oyama's Zayū no Mei Jūichi Kajō 座右の銘十一個条 (Eleven Mottos), and in Osu no Seishin 押忍の精神 (the Spirit of Osu ).

Budo developed from Bushidō 武士道ō (the 'Way of the Warrior'), the code of moral conduct and way of life of the Samurai. At the time, the extent of a warrior's skills and ability often determined whether he lived or died. Through this Budo style Oyama attempted to revive in the Japanese spirit the positive charactors of Bushido.

Kyokushin = Budo Karate

What is Kyokushin karate? To some, it is a way to develop and maintain physical strength and learn effective self-defense techniques. To others, it is much more than that. Kyokushin karate is a way of life that transcends the physical aspects of training. Kyokushin karate is Budo Karate The philosophy of Budo is evident in the name that Mas Oyama chose for his karate style, Kyokushin which means "Ultimate Truth". It is also reflected in the Training Hall Oath (Dōjō Kun, in Mas Oyama's Eleven Mottos and in the Spirit of Osu. The essence of Budo Karate cannot readily be depicted by reading a few paragraphs; Budo must be experienced. However, one can get a glimpse of its meaning by looking at the origin of the martial arts and its relationship with Eastern philosophies, and by examining the words "Karate" and "Budo" themselves. The word Budo is derived from the words:
- Bu meaning "Martial" or "Combat"
- Dō meaning "Way"

Budo, the "Martial Way", is a Japanese term for arts that use peaceful combat as a means of perfecting the self. The word Dō comes from the Chinese word Tao and the philosophy of Taoism. Do does not mean the "way" or method of learning something, such as the learning the techniques of karate, but rather it is the path of life whereby what is learned is transcended into wisdom. Do and Zen are complementary. Zen 禅 seeks self-perfection through passive means, such as meditation. Do seeks self-perfection through active means, such as the training itself. In fact, the practice of kata is sometimes referred to as Dōzen, or "Moving Meditation". That which is gained through Budo is much more than just the techniques and applications of the martial arts, and it transforms all aspects of life.

Karate and Budo are sometimes combined as Karatedō, or the "Empty Hand Way". The word Dōjō, or training hall, literally means the "Way Place", and it is also the name of the room used for meditation in a Buddhist temple. A karate dojo is not a gym, even though the training is physically demanding and a lot of sweat is shed in a Kyokushin dojo. It is a sacred a place of learning, and as such, it is treated with respect. Karateka (karate practitioners) bow before entering or leaving the dojo. Shoes are not worn in the dojo not only to keep the dojo clean, but to keep the "outside world" out. Mokuso (meditation) is sometimes done before training to clear the mind and depart from the "outside world", and after training to clear the mind again in order to return to the "outside world".

A karate uniform is called a Dōgi (or Gi for short), and the word literally means "Way Clothes". Just as a dojo is not a gym, a karate dogi is not just clothes in which to train. A dogi is what a karateka wears on the path toward self-perfection. It should always be kept clean and in good repair. According to Mas Oyama, "to repair a torn uniform is no disgrace, but to wear a torn or dirty one is." However, the Obi (belt) should never be washed. Over time, it becomes frayed and stained with the sweat and blood of hard training. An old, worn and stained obi reflects the karateka's unique experience of training, which should not be washed away.

Budo developed from Bushidō (the "Way of the Warrior"), the code of moral conduct and way of life of the Samurai. At the time, the extent of a warrior's skills and ability often determined whether he lived or died. According to the karate master Gogen Yamaguchi: Budo did not originate in a peaceful atmosphere. It was necessary to protect one's life at the time, and to learn how to use Budo as a weapon and achieve one's responsibility as a warrior. It was the warrior's duty to develop spirit. ... It was necessary to obtain a technique to protect oneself, and one had to have a strong spirit to correspond to that. When one could overcome a conception of death, there was an improvement of a human being as a Samurai. When it was developed, karatedo was used in place of weapons and studied that way, so that the spirit of the Samurai was needed at the beginning of its conception to learn karate.

For the most part, this is not the situation today (although some martial arts can be used effectively for self-defense). Yamaguchi continues: Now there are rules, but the techniques and elements have not changed... Now, karate is the battle against one's self and a means of the Way of one's life, not to defeat others or to die. This solitary fight is to know one's own spirit and the desire to the naught that is superior to the limitation of the body.

Mas Oyama fully understood the nature of Kyokushin Karate as Budo Karate, a path toward self-perfection though the practice of the martial art: Karate is the most Zen-like of all the Martial Arts. It has abandoned the sword. This means that it transcends the idea of winning and losing to become a way of thinking and living for the sake of other people in accordance with the way of Heaven. Its meanings, therefore, reach the profoundest levels of human thought.

For a long time, I have emphasized that karate is Budo, and if the Budo is removed from karate, it is nothing more than sport karate, show karate or even fashion karate – the idea of training merely to be fashionable.

Karate that has discarded Budo has no substance. It is nothing more than a barbaric method of fighting or a promotional tool for the purpose of profit. No matter how popular it becomes, it is meaningless.

Dōjō Kun 道場訓 (Training Hall Oath)

The Kyokushin Dōjō Kun was written by Mas Oyama with the help of Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of the novel Musashi 武蔵, which was based on the life and exploits of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's most famous Samurai warrior.

The Dōjō Kun was usually recited at the end of each training session, when the students and instructors are lined up by rank in Seiza 正座 (formal kneeling).

1. We will train our hearts and bodies, for a firm unshaking spirit.
2. We will pursue the true meaning of the Martial Way, so that in time our senses may be alert.
3. With true vigor, we will seek to cultivate a spirit of self denial.
4. We will observe the rules of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence.
5. We will follow our God, and never forget the true virtue of humility.
Some dojos recite the fifth line as 'We will follow our Gods and Buddha...', which is a more literal translation of Shinbutsu 神仏. However, the full meaning of the Japanese word is not expressed in this literal translation, since it involves Buddhist and Shinto principles with which many Westerners are not familiar. Other dojos recite the line as 'We will follow our religious principles...'.
6. We will look upwards to wisdom and strength, not seeking other desires.
7. All our lives, through the discipline of Karate, we will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin Way.

Japanese version of Dōjō Kun:

吾々は心身を錬磨し 確固不抜の心技を極めること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, shinshin o renmashi, kakko fubatsu no shingi o kiwameru koto.

吾々は武の真髄を極め 機に発し感に敏なること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, bu no shinzui o kiwame, ki ni hasshi, kan ni bin naru koto.

吾々は質実剛健を以て 克己の精神を涵養すること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, shitsujitsu gōken o motte, kokki no seishin o kanyo suru koto.

吾々は礼節を重んじ 長上を敬し粗暴の振る舞いを慎むこと
Hitotsu, wareware wa, reisetsu o omonji, chōjō o keishi sobō no furumai o tsutsushimu koto.

吾々は神仏を尊び 謙譲の美徳を忘れざること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, shinbutsu o tōtobi, kenjō no bitoku o wasurezaru koto.

吾々は智性と体力とを向上させ 事に臨んで過たざること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, chisei to tairyoku to o kōjō sase, koto ni nozonde ayamatazaru koto.

吾々は生涯の修行を空手の道に通じ 極真の道を全うすること
Hitotsu, wareware wa, shōgai no shūgyō o karate no michi ni tsūji, Kyokushin no michi o mattō suru koto.

Nederlandse versie van Dōjō Eed:
1. Wij zullen ons lichamelijk en mentaal trainen om een sterke, onwankelbare geest te krijgen.
2. Wij zullen de ware betekenis van het budo leren kennen, zodat we op het juiste moment waakzaam zijn.
3. Wij zullen met ware volharding een onbaatzuchtige geest ontwikkelen.
4. Wij zullen de regels van de hoffelijkheid in acht nemen, onze meerdere respecteren en ons onthouden van geweld.
5. Wij zullen ons geloof bewaren en nooit de ware deugd der nederigheid vergeten.
6. Wij zullen streven naar wijsheid en sterkte, zonder toe te geven aan andere verlangens.
7. Wij zullen ons leven lang door de discipline van het karate-do, de weg van het Kyokushin beter leren begrijpen.



1. The Martial Way begins and ends with courtesy. Therefore, be properly and genuinely courteous at all times.
2. Following the Martial Way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.
3. Strive to seize the initiative in all things, all the time guarding against actions stemming from selfish animosity or thoughtlessness.
4. Even for the Martial Artist, the place of money cannot be ignored. Yet one should be careful never to become attached to it.
5. The Martial Way is centered in posture. Strive to maintain correct posture at all times.
6. The Martial Way begins with one thousand days and is mastered after ten thousand days of training.
7. In the Martial Arts, introspection begets wisdom. Always see contemplation on your actions as an opportunity to improve.
8. The nature and purpose of the Martial Way is universal. All selfish desires should be roasted in the tempering fires of hard training.
9 .The Martial Arts begin with a point and end in a circle. Straight lines stems from this principle.
10. The true essence of the Martial Way can only be realized through experience. Knowing this, learn never to fear its demands.
11. Always remember: In the Martial Arts the rewards of a confident and grateful heart are truly abundant.

is the word that we use most in a Kyokushin dojo or at a Kyokushin tournament as a matter of respect to each other.
We use it when we enter or leave the dojo, we bow and say 'Osu'.
We greet our fellow Kyokushin Karateka and say 'Osu', instead of 'hello'.
An instruction or question is respond with 'Osu' instead of 'yes, I understand'.
Each technique in kihon waza (basic techniques) is followed by a loud 'OSU'.
In jiyu kumite (free fighting) we say 'OSU' as an acknowledgement of your opponent’s skill.
As a measure of respect, knockdown fighters at a tournament bow and say 'OSU' to the front, to the referee and to each other, before and after the fight.

OSU is used in many situations and seems to mean a lot of things. But what does it really mean?
OSU is a contraction of the words 押し Oshi meaning 'Push' and 忍ぶ Shinobu meaning 'to Endure'.
It means patience, determination and perseverance and every time we say 'OSU', we remind ourselves of this.

Kyokushin training is very demanding. You push yourself until you think you’ve reached your limit. First your body wants to stop, but your mind keeps pushing you. Then your mind wants to stop, but your spirit keeps you going. You endure the pain. You persevere. That is OSU.

Kyokushin karate is not learned overnight. It takes years to properly learn the fundamentals. The basic techniques are performed thousands of times (ren ma – 'always polishing') until they are done by reflex or instinct, without conscious thought (mushin – 'no mind'). It’s easy to get frustrated by doing the same thing over and over again, especially when progress seems to be slow. To overcome that frustration and continue training takes patience and determination. That is OSU.

The absolute and unfaltering devotion needed to 'scale the cliff' of Kyokushin karate is OSU.

There is a saying in Japan, 'Ishi no ue ni sannen', it means 'Three years on a rock'. This saying symbolizes the need to persevere at all times. It is one of the most important philosophies in Kyokushin karate. Kyokushin is an art offering many things according to the immediate and long term aims of the trainee.

Ultimately, one realizes that transcending the kicks, the punches, and the Kata, there is a special spirit in the heart of the participants. It teaches them to face the demands of daily life with a mature and enduring attitude. A Budo-ka is not easily shaken by the blows of adversity, realizing that for a person to draw near to their true potential, a never-say-die spirit of perseverance is required.

This strength of character develops in hard training and is known as 'osu no seishin', the spirit of OSU. The word OSU comes from 'oshi shinobu', which means 'to persevere while being pushed'. It implies a willingness to push oneself to the limits of endurance, to persevere under any kind of pressure.

The single word OSU captures most accurately the ultimate in what the art of karate, particularly Kyokushin, has to offer. One who is truly able to manifest the spirit of OSU in every word, thought, and action may be regarded as wise and brave. Training should first and foremost be approached in the spirit of OSU. One’s daily life, and the responsibilities it holds, would be more completely lived if addressed in the spirit of OSU.

Even for the beginner, who is conscious of his lack of training and does not necessarily want to face the demand of training, it is enough merely being aware that through perseverance and the will to continue, there come great physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional gains. All that is needed is that special determination.

The Spirit of Kyokushin emanates from the Budo axiom, 'One thousand days of training completes a beginner', 'Ten thousand days of training begins the mastery of the art'.

The training to find the Ultimate Truth is a rigorous and never-ending process for the practitioner. It is a life long dedication to the Kyokushin Way.

In other words the greeting OSU used in Kyokushin resonates humility, gratitude, perseverance and above all, respect for one another.

OSU - 押忍の精神

Kyokushin Symbols 極真表象

The Kanji 漢字 (Japanese characters) calligraphy, worn universally on the front of the Gi, is a stylized form of the characters for "Kyokushinkai", which is the name given by Sosai Mas Oyama to the karate style he created. It is composed of three characters:
極 Kyoku meaning 'Ultimate'
真 Shin meaning 'Truth'
会 Kai meaning 'Association'.

Oyama designed the "Kanku" mark with his wife Chiyako, who was an artist. Oyama got the inspiration while practicing the Kanku kata. This symbol is assembled by six circles representing the six continents. The main circle in the middle is surrounded by four other partially invisible circles and the final one encompassing all others. "En" is a curve equidistant from the point of center and the six circles are representative of the comradeship of these continents which Kyokushin bridges and unites.

Masutatsu Oyama - Sosai's History

Sosai (Great Master) Masutatsu Oyama, was born in Korea in 1923 and became the founder of Japan’s most renowned — and the world’s most widespread — style of karate. From the age of 9, Mas Oyama learned Chinese Kempo in Manchuria and followed into his teens by practicing Judo and boxing. Finally this led him to the practice of Okinawan karate, which ultimately served as the springboard for the creation of his own style, Kyokushin, or the “The Ultimate Truth.” By the time Mas Oyama was 20, he had received his 4th dan in Okinawan karate and, though tireless study,eventually attained a 4th dan in Judo as well.

Among Mas Oyama’s many accomplishments, he is perhaps best known for introducing tameshiwari or “stone breaking” into the practice of modern karate. Mas Oyama reasoned that through hard training he could condition his hands to be as powerful as a hammer. Since one could break stones with a hammer, he began the practice of learning how to break boards, bricks and stones with his bare hands. This incredible power he then translated directly into his theory of fighting karate, reasoning that if he could break stones, human bones would break beneath his blows as well. Perhaps his greatest contribution to Japanese karate, therefore, was the introduction and popularization of full-contact fighting karate. At the time he won Japan’s largest tournament sponsored by Okinawa’s Shotokan karate, he was often penalized for fighting too hard, resulting in frequent injuries to his opponents. It was this experience, perhaps above all other influences, that led to his creation of Kyokushin karate. After all, Mas Oyama believed, karate is a fighting art: Without taking it to its extreme by practicing to break the body of one’s opponent (for application during real life and death struggle), one could never realize the true spiritual potential of karate.

Frustrated by society’s opposition to his gathering strength, Mas Oyama at the age of 23, retreated to a remote spot in the mountains with the ambition of training more hours per day than he slept for three years. During this time he practiced by striking the few mountain trees around his cabin with his bare fists until those trees withered and died. He pressed twice his body weight 500 times per day, meditated under icy waterfalls, and fought in the night with the demons of bitter cold and isolation. Upon emerging from mountain training, it is said that Mas Oyama struck a telephone pole and left a clean imprint of his fist in the treated wood.

At the age of 27, convinced that he could not find another fighter in Japan who could match his power and skill, Mas Oyama began his famous battles with bulls to prove his strength and make the world realize the true power of his karate. In one famous bout in front of a movie camera, he battled an angry bull on a beach for 45 minutes, both he and the bull refusing to be beaten. Finally the bull tired, and Mas Oyama sliced one of his horns off with his shuto, or “knife-hand strike.”

Mas Oyama opened his first dojo in Ikebukuro, Tokyo at the age of 30, and called it “Oyama Dojo.” It was here that he took all that he had learned from the various styles that he’d practiced through the years, combined them with what he’d learned during the many thousands of hours of self-training and full-contact fighting, and created a new style of karate, which he called Kyokushin. In 1964, a new dojo in Ikebukuro became the world headquarters of the International Karate Organization, Kyokushinkaikan, which had over 12 million members in 133 countries at the time of his death.

Mas Oyama died of lung cancer in April of 1994, leaving to the world a legacy of the world’s strongest karate.

Kyokushin Kumite
Jissen Kumite and 100 Man Kumite

3. Period after 1994 until 2015

(from the moment i had to stop in 1994 until i started again in 2016)

4. Current situation (2018)

Nu ik me weer met Kyokushin ben gaan bezighouden, heb ik te maken met de situatie dat de oorspronkelijke IKO-organisatie van Sosai Masutatsu Oyama uiteen is gevallen. Mijn Kyokushin-vrienden van weleer zitten nu allemaal bij verschillende bonden. Zelf train ik nu bij shihan Jan Vleesenbeek, die bij de KWF zit van mijn shihan, Kancho Loek Hollander en shihan Vlado Haljer van de KIKO organisatie van Kancho Hatsuo Royama. Mijn vrienden van weleer, waar ik overigens nog af en toe bij ga trainen, zitten bij Shin-Kyokushinkan met Michel Wedel en shihan Koen Scharrenberg van Kancho Kenji Midori en bij de IFK van Hanshi Steve Arniel. Sinds 2011 is een programma opgestart door de genoemde Kancho's en Hanshi onder de titel: Time to be united. Ik ondersteun dat van harte. In iedere dojo waar ik kom, staat de vertaling en betekenis van KAI in grote letters boven de deur, nl: SAMENWERKEN. Iets waar we in Nederland sterk in zijn. Dus laten we het voorbeeld geven en SAMEN te GAAN WERKEN onder de paraplu van KWU, onder het motto:
Niets is Onmogelijk 不可能はないです.

The Seven Virtues of Bushido