What Is Kyokushin Karate?

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Kyokushin Karate is a popular Japanese martial art that is renowned for its intense training, full-contact sparring, and emphasis on physical strength and endurance. With roots in traditional karate and influences from other martial arts, Kyokushin Karate boasts a unique training philosophy that seeks to develop not only the body but also the mind and spirit.

In this article, we will explore what Kyokushin Karate is, its history, training methods and techniques, benefits, competitions and tournaments, and its philosophy.


What is Kyokushin Karate?

Kyokushin Karate is a full-contact karate style founded by Masutatsu Oyama in the late 1950s. The name “Kyokushin” means “the ultimate truth” or “the ultimate reality” and reflects the style’s emphasis on intense training and realistic combat. Kyokushin Karate is known for its rigorous physical training, which includes weightlifting, running, and bodyweight exercises, as well as its emphasis on full-contact sparring.

Kyokushin Karate also has a unique grading system, with practitioners wearing colored belts to denote their level of experience and skill. The lowest belt is white, and the highest is black, with several levels of black belt denoting advanced practitioners.


History of Kyokushin Karate

Kyokushin Karate’s founder, Masutatsu Oyama, was born in Korea in 1923 but moved to Japan at a young age. Oyama began studying judo and kendo in his youth but eventually turned to karate, a relatively new martial art in Japan at the time.

Oyama trained under several karate masters in Japan and Korea, including Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate. Oyama developed his own style of karate, which he called Kyokushin Karate, in the late 1950s.

Kyokushin Karate quickly gained popularity in Japan and abroad, with Oyama opening several dojos (training halls) and sending his students to compete in martial arts tournaments. Oyama’s students were known for their physical strength and toughness, as well as their commitment to the values of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit.

Masutatsu Oyama passed away in 1994, but Kyokushin Karate continues to thrive around the world, with millions of practitioners and numerous international competitions.


Training Methods and Techniques

Kyokushin Karate places a strong emphasis on physical fitness, with practitioners engaging in rigorous training that includes running, weightlifting, and calisthenics. Kyokushin Karate also incorporates various techniques from other martial arts, such as knee strikes, low kicks, and throws.

Kyokushin Karate’s kata, or prearranged movements, are an essential part of training. Practitioners memorize and perform katas, which are sequences of movements that simulate combat scenarios. Kata training aims to improve practitioners’ balance, coordination, posture, and focus.

In addition to kata, Kyokushin Karate emphasizes full-contact sparring, which is one of the most challenging aspects of training. Practitioners wear protective gear, such as gloves and shin guards, and aim to score points by striking their opponent with techniques like punches, kicks, and knee strikes.

Kyokushin Karate also includes various self-defense techniques, such as escapes from grabs, throws, and joint locks, as well as techniques for defending against weapons.


Benefits of Kyokushin Karate

Kyokushin Karate has numerous benefits for practitioners, both physical and mental. Here are some of the most notable benefits:

– Improved physical fitness: Kyokushin Karate’s rigorous training can improve practitioners’ strength, endurance, flexibility, and overall fitness.
– Weight loss: Kyokushin Karate’s high-intensity workouts can help practitioners lose weight and improve their body composition.
– Self-defense skills: Kyokushin Karate’s self-defense techniques can help practitioners protect themselves and others in real-life situations.
– Improved confidence and self-esteem: Kyokushin Karate’s demanding training and focus on self-improvement can help practitioners develop confidence and self-esteem.
– Stress relief: Kyokushin Karate’s physical training and emphasis on mindfulness and meditation can provide stress relief and improve mental health.
– Improved focus and concentration: Kyokushin Karate’s kata training and mindfulness practices can improve practitioners’ focus and concentration.


Competitions and Tournaments

Kyokushin Karate has a long history of competitive events, with several international competitions held each year. The most prominent of these competitions is the Kyokushin World Cup, which is held every four years and attracts competitors from around the world.

In Kyokushin Karate competitions, practitioners engage in full-contact sparring and aim to score points by striking their opponent with techniques such as punches and kicks. Competitions are divided by weight class and belt level, with separate events for men and women.

Competition in Kyokushin Karate is intense and physically demanding, with practitioners expected to demonstrate not only their technique and skill but also their physical strength and endurance.


Philosophy of Kyokushin Karate

Kyokushin Karate has a unique philosophy that emphasizes the development of the whole person, not just the body. The style’s guiding principles include:

– Courtesy: Practitioners of Kyokushin Karate are expected to demonstrate respect, humility, and humility toward their opponents and fellow practitioners.
– Integrity: Practitioners of Kyokushin Karate are expected to adhere to high ethical standards and demonstrate honesty and fairness in all aspects of their lives.
– Perseverance: Practitioners of Kyokushin Karate are expected to overcome challenges, setbacks, and obstacles through hard work and dedication.
– Self-control: Practitioners of Kyokushin Karate are expected to demonstrate self-control and discipline in their training, behavior, and interactions with others.
– Indomitable spirit: Practitioners of Kyokushin Karate are expected to demonstrate a fierce determination and unbreakable will in the face of adversity.

Kyokushin Karate’s guiding principles reflect a holistic approach to martial arts training that seeks to develop not only physical strength and skill but also personal character, ethics, and values.



In conclusion, Kyokushin Karate is a unique and challenging martial art with a rich history, rigorous training methods, numerous benefits for practitioners, and a philosophy that emphasizes personal growth and development. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner, Kyokushin Karate can provide physical and mental challenges, as well as opportunities for self-improvement, self-defense, and personal growth.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

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