Origins of Karate Kyokushin Kai-Kan
To understand this, we must first review our concept of Karate. Karate appears fearful
and destructive to many people. By the same token, 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 an oriental type of dance. This shows,
undeniably, the lack of a proper view of what Karate really is.
Karate is a martial art, for many it is a way of life, and it shares the common goal with
Judo, Kendo, Aikido. These arts, also share things like: the tea ceremony, calligraphy,
and Japanese flower arranging, to be cultivated 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 become 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
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
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 on (at the initial stages) kicks, punches,
blocks and body movement. It is an intense physical activity, which directly benefits mental
"Kyokushin" is comprised of two Japanese words, "Kyoku" (ultimate, extreme) and "Shin"
(reality or truth from within). The full name is Kyokushin KaiKan, were "Kai" means meet,
join or associate, and "Kan" school/building. The official dogi (karate uniform) used by a
Kyokushin practitioner has the word KyokushinKai embroidered on the left side of the
dogi-jacket, this calligraphy is called "Kanji" . The internationally recognized symbol of
Kyokushin Karate, the 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, strenuous training,
conditioning and realistic contact while sparring. 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 seidhin"
(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."
Origins of Karate Kyokushin Kai-Kan