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Martial arts give you the tool to stay present and focused while standing in the eye of the storm. It is this self-awareness that allows you to make the best decisions in stressful situations and to defend yourself when necessary. This article zooms in on the Eastern martial art of kyokushin karate.

Kyokushin karate is without a doubt one of the world's hardest and most spartan martial arts. Practitioners of this sport, karateka, are trained to find an optimal balance between body and mind. This balance is formed through physically and mentally exhausting training. Every training is done to the utmost to connect body and mind. In addition, training is given to develop a character that makes a positive contribution to the community. The kind of character one can be proud of, never aggressive or attacking, always calm, ambitious and disciplined. Avoid the fight rather than engage.

Kihon, kata and kumite are the three basic principles of kyokushinkai karate. The founder of kyokushin karate, Masutatstu Oyama, spoke the following words about this:

“One should think of Karate as a language – The Kihon can be thought of as the letters of the alphabet, the Kata will be the equivalent of words and sentences, and the Kumite will be analogous to conversations”

When speaking of the kihon in kyokushin karate, all basic techniques are meant. It is the hard core from which everything is built. The kihon includes all stances (dachi), attacks (uchi), blocks (uke), moves (ido), thrusting techniques (tsuki) and kicking techniques (geri) of kyokushin karate. It is the basic static techniques, which over time become more and more powerful and sharper. Repetition of these techniques is therefore also extremely important to improve as a karateka.

Kata can be seen as a fight against an imaginary opponent. Through the practice of kata, coordination, breathing and concentration are developed. When done properly, it will take a lot of strength from the body. Kata is a very effective form of mental and physical training that could even fall into the category of meditation up to a point. Kata's is subdivided into Northern and Southern kata. The Northern katas characterized by the large stances and long distance techniques and the Southern katas characterized by the shorter distance techniques and round (ornate) techniques.

Kumite refers to combat in Kyokushin Karate. It is performing the techniques of the kihon in actual combat. By means of randori (fighting with each other) and jiyu (against each other) kumite good and strong fighters are created. A kyokushin karateka fights "bare knuckle". This means no gloves are used during combat. Training can be done with protection for technique improvement. The more you grow as a fighter, the more you grow as a person. A good kyokushin fighter has an open, honest look. He/she will not shy away from any challenge and will always go the extra mile, no matter how difficult the situation. This applies to a kyokushin party as well as in life. He/she will never give up and that characterizes a true kyokushin karateka.

An article written by Kyokushin Fight Academy gym owner and head coach – Vijay Nanhoe

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