A short history of Karate

Karate is actually two words: kara (empty), te (hand). This infers that the exponent is practiced in the art of fighting without weapons. This does not mean however, that the person will not use weapons if available.

Karate was originally practised in private by the japanese, who were not open to the idea that foreigners should be shown the art. Gichin Funagoshi is credited with bringing modern karate out in the open on his return to mainland Japan from the island of Okinawa.

Origins of Modern Karate and Kyokushinkai

There are many karate styles that have sprung from the roots of Shotokan & Goju Ryu and others. Kyokushinkai, being one of these was formed by Masutatsu Oyama a student of Funagoshi. Oyama wanted to make a style that concentrated on the power and character of the practicioner. In pursuit of this Oyama sought advice and followed the example of the famous japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi (author of a book of five rings), by living in the mountains, practicing, studying and meditating. After one and a half years he came down and put his abilities to the test by challenging other martial artists of the time to fight and also fought bulls as well. In the 1950's he then started his own dojo in ikebukuru (Japan) and Kyokushin karate was born. It is now practised throughout the world with each student challenging themselves to become better in body and mind with the philosophy of "Osu, no sienchin" (never give up).

Knockdown Karate

Circa 1970, Kyokushin knockdown a form of competition fighting was created to test the character of the students. Bare knuckle punches to the body and bare leg attacks to the head, body & legs were allowed along with grabbing of the head to knee. Training for this type of fighting is still done in the dojo and students can choose to compete in tournaments if they wish. British students will also practice fighting traditional karate as well in the form of individual strikes like fencing. Docklands main instructor, Shihan Nick da Costa was the first Kyokushin exponent to win two European Championships along with Andi Hug in 1989.

Since Masutatsu Oyama's death in 1994 the Internationa Karate Organisation (IKO) has split and although kyokushin students have increased around the world, the branches have become more numerous as well.