A Brief History of Kyokushin

What is Kyokushin?


Kyokushin is a form of full contact karate (stand-up style) that was founded in 1964. The name “kyokushin” in Japanese means “the ultimate truth”. The fact that this form of martial arts promotes self-improvement, discipline, and hard work, lends itself well to “the ultimate truth”.

The Beginning

Kyokushin was founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama (born under the name Choi Young-Eui), who was not only an expert in karate, but also appeared to be an expert in marketing!

When Oyama was first trying to increase the popularity of Kyokushin, he would hire an instructor to open a new dojo. However, the new instructor wouldn’t simply show up and start teaching. The instructor was actually responsible for recruiting and assembling a group of committed students. In order to do this, the instructor would move to a new town, set up a dojo, but instead of spending all their time there, they would go to a public area and display their excellent karate skills. Once word spread and the instructor’s expertise became highly recognized, students would come and Kyokushin would thrive in the respective area.

After Oyama’s Death

Oyama passed away in 1994. As you can imagine, he did a great job promoting and improving the discipline of Kyokushin over 30 years, and by the time he passed away, it was an established form of martial arts that continues to thrive today.

However, Oyama did not formally name a successor prior to his death. If you think you’ve seen big arguments over a family member’s will, well this was a whole different level. Many family members and close friends/acquaintances desire to assume the leadership role, and this split the discipline of Kyokushin into multiple groups within Japan. Today, there are numerous Kyokushin groups around the world, so there may be a variation in the practice, but the popularity remains.


Many other stand-up forms of karate have their roots in Kyokushin. Still practiced by the likes of George St. Pierre, Sean Connery, and even Vladimir Putin, the popularity is evident.

As a fun fact, the special moves and overall style of the fighters Ryu and Ken in the video game Street Fighter are actually based on Kyokushin.

Furthermore, kickboxing tends to be strongly related to Kyokushin. Many professional kickboxers have started out in Kyokushin, or vice versa. Both are stand-up forms of combat, or “knockdown karate”.

If you have read our Welcome page, you will know that we also have trainers with an experience and expertise in boxing. This isn’t a far stretch from Kyokushin, as Kyokushin is the foundation of glove karate, where the competitors wear boxing-style gloves and punches to the head are allowed.

At the end of the day, Kyokushin is an effective, popular, challenging, and fun discipline of martial arts that many can participate in. Although there are many variations, most forms are quite similar and stick tot he principles: self-improvement, discipline, and hard work.

Belt Grading

For more information about the belt grading system for Kyokushin, please click here.

Updated: May 13, 2015 — 8:57 pm
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