Dento-teki Kyokushinkai Karate Organization

My "Way"

Article to appear in next issue Kickzone Mag.

Posted by Shihan Tatro on April 9, 2011 at 2:03 PM

What is Kyokushin?

By Shihan Larry Tatro

Kyokushin! When I first heard that word, my instinct was to say, “Bless you.” Then, I found out that Kyokushin means, “in search of the ultimate truth. I think that epitomizes what all martial artists do in training. We search for the truth within us, to reach our limits, then exceed them to reveal the ultimate truth…the person we CAN be. The true martial artist is pushing his or her own personal envelope, in an ongoing attempt to gain mastery over their bodies and minds. Because, as the founder of Kyokushinkai, Mas Oyama says, “To win, a man must first overcome himself.” #

In the United States, Kyokushinkai schools are rare, however worldwide Kyokushinkai boasts millions of students. Masutatsu Oyama is world renowned as one of the most accomplished karate masters in history. He was known as “God Hand” because of his amazing feats of strength, including killing a bull with one punch. He searched himself for the ultimate truth by living in the mountains for 18 months, dedicating himself to rigorous training. Then he tested his truth by creating and being the first to accomplish the “100 Man Kumite”, in which the karateka fights 100 Black Belts consecutively. Kyokushinkai is known for it’s full-contact fighting. In fact, PRIDE, K-1, Sabaki, Enshin and many other full-contact competitions are off shoots of the World Championships sponsored by Kyokushinkai in the early 70’s.

Among Mas Oyama’s first students was Shigeru Oyama. (no relation) Shigeru became a 7th degree Black belt under Sosai Mas Oyama and as one of the masters most accomplished students, was sent to the United States to spread Kyokushin. Shigeru Oyama was sent to NY and opened a Kyokushinkai dojo immediately. One of his very first students was a Goju-ryu Black Belt named Tony Zeno. That’s where I come in. I was one of Shihan Zeno’s very first student. I think I see a pattern here.

For me, Kyokushin has been the transformation of a shy, skinny kid into a confident man comfortable in addressing large crowds. I began my “search” in 1973 in upstate NY and never looked back. I got my Black Belt in ‘78 and opened my first dojo in Culpeper, VA in 1982. Between 1984-94 several of our students and myself were consistently ranked in the former P.K.L.(Professional Karate League) and N.A.S.K.A.(North American Sport Karate Assoc.) We also won the Virginia Battle of the Dojo’s three consecutive years. I’ve been fortunate to train with prominent Kyokushin masters including aforementioned Shigeru Oyama and Tony Zeno. I’ve also trained with Bobby Lowe, John Farrell, Don Allen and Randolph James, all Kyokushin legends. Additionally, I’ve trained and learned from several non-Kyokushin sources. I learned weapons from Karl Hovey, Isshin-ryu. I learned jui-jitsu from Ron Cherry. I also studied with Bill Hayes, Shorin-ryu. I’ve increased my knowledge by attending numerous seminars by greats such as; Garry Holman, George Dillman, Wally Jay, Dan Severn, Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace. Throughout my 37 years I continued to seek knowledge in my search of the ultimate truth. I have been blessed by my association with these great masters and by having an inquisitive mind. Also, I twice had the chance to train and even teach in Japan. The result is combined with my degree in Physical Education to produce an in-depth, scientific, yet traditional approach to martial arts training.

Kyokushin is a relatively young style of karate, having been founded in 1953. Yet, it’s roots extend deep into traditional karate. Sosai Mas Oyama was greatly influenced by Goju-ryu legend “Catman” Yamaguchi and the “Founder of Modern Karate” Ginchin Funakoshi.. In fact, Kyokushin is said to be a combination of three styles; Kempo, Goju-ryu and Funakoshi’s Shotokan system. It’s traditional roots are also reflected in the formalized structure of Kyokushin classes and the spirit in the dojo.

Despite Kyokushin’s traditional roots, it can still lay claim as the forerunner to modern full-contact, mma style competitions. Sosai Oyama developed the perfect vehicle to transition from traditional karate to modern karate and he named that vehicle, “Search for the Ultimate Truth”. So, regardless which style of martial art you study, you too will search for your ultimate truth, so you too will be Kyokushin. Osu!

 

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