New cover of Feb/Mar 2014 of Black Belt Magazine.

 New  cover of Feb/Mar 2014 of Black Belt Magazine.


Channel 9 Wide World of Sports Interview: Judd Reid/ 100 Man Fight

This interview was broadcast on Australian Channel 9 Wide World of Sports on November 3rd, 2013.
Description below:
Judd Reid and Journey to the 100 Man Fight featured this morning in a top notch story on Australian television’s best weekly sports program, Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports!
Great thanks to host Kenny Sutcliffe, reporter Bill Baxter, producer Jacqui Lumb and the very professional camera crew.
And especially – a huge OSU to all the students at Chikara Dojo who put in such an enthusiastic effort on the day!!!



New York, NY – GLORY, the world’s premier kickboxing league, today announced the date and headline bout for its next event, GLORY 14 ZAGREB, to be broadcast from Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia on Saturday, March 8th.

Building on GLORY 13 TOKYO’s ratings momentum on SPIKE TV, GLORY 14 ZAGREB is headlined by Heavyweight hometown hero Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic (22-7-0, 12 KOs) making his GLORY debut against fellow living legend Remy Bonjasky (98-12-0, 36 KOs). The bout is a rematch from 2002, with Filipovic winning the first encounter via TKO.

The full fight card for GLORY 14 ZAGREB will be announced at a later date.

GLORY KICKBOXING- The Raise of Team America


In 2012, even the most hardened kickboxing fans would have struggled to name more than a handful of American fighters. Despite being a world superpower in boxing and MMA, the USA had never made its presence felt on the international kickboxing circuit.

It was widely thought that, for whatever reason, the USA simply didn’t have any high-level kickboxers. 2013 was the year that myth was shattered. GLORY World Series talent scouts had ventured across the US and found a new breed of fighters waiting for their time to shine.

American kickboxing turned out to be a bubbling pot of talent, which was waiting to explode. GLORY gave the likes of Joe SchillingWayne BarrettBrian Collette and Ky Hollenbeck a chance to prove themselves, and they seized it with both hands.

The year’s highlight, in American terms, was undoubtedly Joe Schilling’s victory in the GLORY 10 LOS ANGELES Middleweight Championship Tournament.

Schilling (16-5, 10 KO’s) had established himself as a top name on the US circuit but there weren’t many who thought he could win a tournament which had world #1 Artem Levin (46-4-1, 33 KO’s) in the line-up. The doubters added fuel to Schilling’s fire – he loves proving people wrong almost as much as he loves proving himself right.

Russia’s Levin has dominated the weight class for a long time. Tricky, intelligent and unorthodox, he is a very difficult opponent for anyone. Schilling met him in the final and brought his A-Game, a career-best performance in which he matched Levin trick for trick and showed his own fighting heart and intelligence.

Prior to that fight, Levin had not been dropped since 2008. Schilling did it by setting Levin up perfectly, outfoxing the fox and tricking him into lowering his hands and eating a hard right. If that blow had resulted in a clean KO it would have been one of the biggest upsets in all of kickboxing history.

As it was, Schilling went on to win a decision in a classic encounter. The USA vs. Russia undertone added spice to it, and Schilling also went on record pre- and post-fight to say he had felt pressure to represent American kickboxing to the world.

The tournament prize money allowed Schilling to buy a house for his young family, rewarding them for their years of patient support as he clawed his way to the top. Schilling broke down in tears after the fight, a mixture of joy, relief and pride overwhelming him on what was a huge night for himself and American kickboxing.

Watching closely was Wayne Barrett (4-0, 3 KO’s). A native of New York, Barrett had fought and won in the night’s tournament reserve match, dispatching Robby Plotkin – also a New Yorker – by way of KO. In his post-fight interviews he said he wanted to fight Schilling as soon as possible. He got his wish at GLORY 12 NEW YORK in November.

The fight took place at Madison Square Garden, giving Barrett home field advantage. The East Coast vs. West Coast clash was hard-fought, with significant bragging rights on the line. Barrett put Schilling down, Schilling came back and put Barrett down. Barrett boxed, Schilling showboated. The fans loved it.

Despite a finish looking close on several occasions, sheer determination took both men to the final bell. Barrett won the decision; Schilling looked crushed. A lot of heat had been exchanged between the two both in and out of the ring; Schilling/Barrett has the potential to be one of the more significant rivalries in US kickboxing. They will surely meet again.

Schilling’s win in the Middleweight Championship Tournament painted a target on his back. Fellow US fighters wanted to take his shine. Barrett was the first to step up and towards the end of the year Dustin Jacoby also threw his hat in the ring.

Jacoby (4-3, 3 KO‘s), a UFC veteran and training partner of Chris Camozzi, blasted his way into GLORY by winning an eight-man tournament in Oklahoma at the start of the year. He stopped three opponents in succession to earn himself a contract.

His debut at GLORY 5 LONDON didn’t exactly go to plan though, as he met the experienced Dutch fighter Michael Duut (38-5, 17 KO’s). The wide gulf in experience quickly became apparent as Duut put Jacoby down three times in quick succession to end the fight under the three-knockdown rule.

Undeterred, Jacoby trained hard through the year. He enjoyed mixed results but his increasing skill was clear for all to see. As a wrestler turned MMA fighter, Jacoby actually had an 0-0 kickboxing record when he entered the Oklahoma tournament. That he has held his own in the GLORY ranks is testament to his toughness, heart and commitment.

Jacoby is now on his way to middleweight and has set his sights on a fight with Schilling, saying he wants to establish himself as the US #1 in his new weight class. ‘Top American Middleweight’ is a subplot set to produce some serious dogfights in 2014.

Jacoby also has some interesting ideas about American fighters and weight-cutting. US fighters are well used to the concept, it being a core part of MMA and wrestling, but it is hardly used in Europe and Japan. Jacoby thinks American fighters are increasingly going to use that to their advantage as the US presence in GLORY increases.

“I think in the next couple of years as GLORY expands and the American presence expands, the weight-cut will become an advantage for the US fighters,” he says.

“A lot of us have wrestling backgrounds or train at MMA gyms. Weight-cutting is much more prevalent here. The Europeans are going to have to figure that out and respond to it.

“Actually I trained over in Holland with guys who were at heavyweight and light-heavyweight and I thought that with a better diet and a little cutting, they could easily make one weight-class down.”

A good example of what Jacoby is talking about was the fight between Ky Hollenbeck and Warren Stevelmans at GLORY 12 NEW YORK.

Hollenbeck (46-3, 23 KO’s) is Muay Thai to the core but also has some jiu-jitsu and MMA experience. He knows how to cut weight. When he squared off with Stevelmans (64-20-1, 20 KO’s) he looked twice the size of him and proceeded to rag-doll the hapless South African around the ring.

In his preceding fight, Hollenbeck had scored another one of the year’s major upsets when he dominated the decorated veteran Albert Kraus (73-17-3, 43 KO’s) over three rounds. Hollenbeck imposed himself on the fight from start to finish and, by the end, the usually slick Kraus was left swinging at air in frustration.

Hollenbeck’s two fights in 2013 have showed him to be a high-end talent and one to keep an eye on. They also earned him a title shot – on Saturday, March 8 he will face Andy ‘The Machine’ Ristie (41-3-1, 21 KO’s) at GLORY 14 ZAGREB with the GLORY World Lightweight Championship title on the line.

Last year also saw solid performances from the likes of Brian ‘The Lion’ Collette (21-2, 18 KO‘s)Eddie ‘Showtime’ Walker (11-4-1, 9 KO’s) and Raymond ‘The Real Deal’ Daniels (24-1, 14 KO’s), fighters with very different styles but all of them proud Americans.

2013 was the year that American kickboxing arrived on the world stage. 2014 is the year that ‘Team USA’ begins its campaign to carry the Stars and Stripes to the top


“Breathing has never been an issue for me… as an old guy sparring with my fighters, I breathe and recover fully during the breaks between rounds… with no problem. I’ve always had abs… and I’ve always thought I used them properly in the SFG lifts. So I figured I knew how to breathe, and my abs were dialed in. Then I had to abdominally breathe from a cross-legged, seated position in Ronen’s seminar. Suddenly my stomach was contracting when it should have been expanding, and expanding when it should have been contracting – couldn’t seem to get the lower abdominal region to fully contract. But Ronen’s prompts were very clear and if I really thought about my breathing and concurrent abdominal movement – I could coordinate the belly breathing properly. And I’ve continued to practice since the workshop. What I’ve found is that my breathing is slower and deeper. Most importantly, I’m achieving a much greater level of engagement and connection on lifts. I’m very confident that this improved connection will allow me to get stronger in everything… It’s very cool to keep learning tools that help me, and that help me be a better coach.”
—Steve Milles, SFG II, Director Five Points Academy, NYC

Man can survive weeks without solid food, days without water, but only mere minutes without air. In ancient traditions they knew the importance of breathing. Breathing technique drills were a necessary component for guarding both one’s health as well as developing one’s progress on mental and spiritual levels. In the years during which I lived in Japan, Masutatsu Oyama – the founder of Kyokushin karate – used to begin and end his lessons with a special breathing exercise. The instruction was to start with the inhalation breath at tanden (three fingers beneath the navel) – the area that is considered the center of force in the world of martial arts. The ratio between inhalation and exhalation is 1:2 (in other words, if the inhalation lasts four seconds, the exhalation lasts 8 seconds). This drill served as a base for practicing one of the single most important katas in the world of martial arts – the Sanchin kata, in which the practitioner attempts to unify Movement and Breath, during which he or she attempts to generate maximum force. In fact, in his brilliant book The Naked Warrior, Pavel Tsatsouline describes an identical drill: squeeze the glutes, point your navel toward the ceiling, zip up the body, and so on. The goal of the martial arts practitioner as well as the StrongFirst practitioner is to generate maximum force, and this is how we do it.

In Raja yoga it is said that the consistent practice of breathing exercises makes it possible for the practitioner to arrive more quickly at the state scientists call REM (rapid eye movement), which is the pinnacle of maximum relaxation. The average person experiences REM at some point during their nightly sleep, but many yogis can attain it within only 8-10 seconds! It is for this reason that many of the best yogis don’t sleep much – they are able to reach the REM state faster than the average person.

The first step to improved breathing is a renewed integration between the three levels: lower, middle, and upper (belly, lungs, and rib cage) together as one unit in the breathing process – a process that comes naturally to infants and children. Breathing this way enables a larger movement of the diaphragm, thus providing a full and thorough massage of the internal organs of the belly. Later the student learns two types of breathing – stopping the breath with air (representing physical power, as we’re used to with kettlebells and barbells) and without air (which requires mental power), the goal of which is to maximize the oxygenation of the blood flow through the use of long, slow exhalation and deep and thorough expelling of carbon dioxide residues from the body.

Modern man spends a large portion of his life sitting in front of a computer screen or behind a steering wheel, and he is generally tense, stressed out, and unsatisfied with life. Nowadays the average person utilizes a minute amount of their lungs’ capacity (when seated, it’s only half a liter of air per minute, during physical activity 1.5 liters per minute, and during intense physical exercise 3 liters per minute). For this reason it is common to hear people sigh throughout the day – in order to compensate for the lack of air their bodies are taking in.

Through both observation and personal inquiry the masters came to better understand the nature of the mind: that it lacks the ability to be silent, and the path to calming the mind is through mastery of breathing. As such, when we feel stressed or angry, our breathing becomes fast and irregular – the same as when we are approaching the climactic moment of a suspenseful movie – our breathing stops by itself. The regular practice of breathing exercises will imbue the practitioner with fortified strength, calm, and control over one’s will power.

Here’s one recommended breathing drill: between one and three times per day, stand in a split stance (hip width) with your palms resting on your stomach, thumbs pointing toward the navel, the remainder of the fingers under the navel. Begin with a long exhalation while gently pressing your hands inward against your stomach. With the inhalation, push the stomach out with your hands placed against your stomach. Repeat for five cycles, and be strict; do not force your breathing. Do this drill on an empty stomach, and preferably before training.

I have intentionally included very few details in this article. Correct breathing, much like all expressions of strength, is a skill, and therefore must be learned and practiced. Just as we can’t properly learn the depth of details of a heavy deadlift or a Kettlebell swing from one article on the internet, we can’t unlock and understand the many principles and practices of proper breathing without correct and mindful instruction. Breathing practice presents an excellent addition to one’s daily training and will undoubtedly lead to improvement in all levels and aspects of training and life.

THE ART OF LOW KICKS by Martin de Jong


Low kicks, or leg kicks to an American, are kicks with the shin of the attacker to the in or outside thigh of his opponent.

Low kicks can be very effective for two main reasons:

1. If you kick somebody off balance, it will disturb your opponent’s attack

2. If you inflict so much pain on the thigh of the opponent, the leg will be temporarily “paralyzed” and he won’t be able to continue.

How to execute a proper low kick:

1. Outside low kick: make sure that your “standing leg” is slightly bent at all times. The leg that hits the thigh of the opponent should be bent 90 degrees when it hits its target. Always try and hit the thigh with the upper part of the shin as this is the hardest part. Make sure your leg lands horizontal on the thigh. This kick is primarily used to attack the front leg but experienced kickboxers attack the back leg too. Outside low kicks are the perfect weapon against taekwondo fighters or (semi contact) karate fighters, as they tend to throw a lot of high kicks without properly knowing how to defend the low kicks. It is not in their system to block the low kicks and at the same time it will be harder to throw those fancy high kicks when your legs hurt and become feeling very heavy. A Perfect example is the fight between Valtellini and Raymond Daniels.

Outside low kicks are usually thrown after a series of punches to finish off the combination. It can also be used effectively when your opponent comes forward with a jab. The impact of the low kick will have a maximum effect and the opponent will not be able to block it on time as most of his weight is on his front leg.

2. Inside low kick – there are two main purposes of using them:

a. To inflict damage

b. To kick your opponent off balance.

To inflict damage, the kick should be more of a snap kick with the leg that hits being almost extended by the time it hits the inside thigh. This kick looks like a karate kick. It is solely used to attack the front leg. You can throw the kick from almost every position with no need to make an extra step. To kick your opponent off balance, the kick looks more like an outside low kick. The leg that hits the thigh is more bent and acts more as a push kick, you “push” your opponent off balance. This kick can be used to attack both the front and the back leg of your opponent. An absolute master of this kick is GLORY’s own HW champion Rico Verhoeven.

An inside low kick is a strong weapon against good boxers or fighters who tend to throw long combinations. You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with a good boxer with a big chance of getting hit by a good power shot. Instead, it is better to operate at a “kicking distance” and chop down the legs. Kick them every time he tries to attack you with punches. He won’t be able to block the kicks as he needs to plant his feet heavy on the ground if he wants to throw a strong punch. The kicks will hurt him a lot, most importantly throwing him off balance so he will not be able to hit you hard or even finish his combination. It can be very frustrating and annoying for your opponent.

Defending low kicks

There are two ways to defend low kicks:

1. Make them miss by pulling your leg back when you see the kick coming

2. Checking them: The secret to check the low kicks is to raise your leg slightly while pointing your knee towards the attacking leg with your toes pointing upwards. The trick is to make your opponents lower shin land on your upper and thicker part of the shin. The pain the attacker feels will make him think twice about kicking again. Most recently Chris Weidman defeated pound per pound best MMA fighter in the world, Anderson Silva, by properly checking his inside low kick. The result was a broken shin for Anderson ‘Spider’.

Have fun training the art of low kicks!

Martijn de Jong

Kancho Shokei Matsui 2014 New Year Message

OSU! Happy New Year! 

Thank you for your continuous support to the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan. 2014 is a monumental year as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the IKO Kyokushinkaikan and the 20th Memorial of the passing of Sosai Masutatsu Oyama. Sosai Oyama established the IKO in 1964 and introduced full contact karate to the world. Since the demise of Sosai Oyama in April 1994, we have succeeded his legend without fail, and relentlessly maintained the IKO as the leader of karate world for half a century. 

The IKO Kyokushinkaikan is a martial arts organization. I emphasize that the Kyokushinkaikan is not a karate “style”, but an organization of Kyokushin Karate practitioners. What is Kyokushin Karate? It is a system of full contact martial artists who bear distinctive principles and exceptional character. We train our bodies, minds and spirits together to become greater human beings and contribute to society as a whole. 

The Kyokushinkaikan has kept the original name created by Sosai Oyama, “International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan”. It continues to operate its headquarters at the hallowed ground where Sosai Oyama first tread at Ikebukuro, Tokyo. And the IKO Kyokushinkaikan has continuously, without interruption presented every prestigious event that Sosai Mas Oyama introduced, such as Mitsumine Winter Camp, the All Japan Tournaments and World Open Karate Tournament. I would like to stress that our organization is the only one that has in good faith maintained and furthered Sosai Mas Oyama’s legacy. We should be proud to proclaim ourselves the authentic Kyokushinkaikan. 

In November 2013, Kyohei Ajima brought All Japan title back to Japan by defeating the defending champion from Spain, Alejandro Navarro at the 45th All Japan Tournament. It had been 4 years since the title was back to Japan, as the last time a Japanese national took the All Japan title was in 2010. Many top competitors of today started Kyokushin when they were children, including Ajima. Many teenage members are now developing into potential World Tournament contenders, and I can clearly see a new horizon for the future of the Japan Team. Additionally, as Ajima’s hometown was severely affected by the Great Tohoku Earthquakes on March 11, 2011, his winning gave great hope and courage to the people of his region who continue to suffer from the disaster. 

The 46th All Japan Open in November 2014 will be a selection championship event to identify the Japanese National Team for the 11th World Open Karate Tournament. This year’s All Japan will be a good indicator in predicting the rising contenders for the 2015 World Open. As the international stage has grown and proliferated in the last 5 decades, many exceptional fighters have come to light. Non-Japanese competitors won the last two World Open titles; men who were barely born as Sosai passed away. For the Japan Team to bring back the World Open title to the motherland of Karate, and for any country to generate leaders and champions, we must give selflessly, all our energy to the youth of today. As we look upward and forward positively in this New Year, it is quintessential to advance the young generation. I hope all young competitors set their goals high and never give up. You are the future, and one day you could be the future World Champion. 

Originally, adult men only practiced karate. And only full contact, knockdown Kumite matches symbolized Kyokushin. As we have grown, minds have opened and barriers have broken down. Now our community of practitioners has expanded, and all generations, genders and abilities practice and proliferate Kyokushin. Elite competitions have arisen specifically for youth, women, and seniors, as well as for non-contact Kata performance. Kyokushinkaikan has truly fulfilled Sosai’s original philosophy of non-discrimination, and brings us closer to our ultimate goal of World Peace through Kyokushin. 

The Kyokushinkaikan is a martial arts organization, and Kyokushin Karate exemplifies Budo. Budo is the way in which the development of body and mind are heralded in synchronicity through karate practice. It was Sosai’s wish that as many people as possible should practice Kyokushin. Our activities should always first and foremost contribute to society. In particular, we should focus on developing the health and education of our youth by providing them opportunity to train their mind and body to become sound adults. 

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Kyokushinkaikan, we should be certain we understand our goals and work together to bring them to fruition. We must uphold our heritage as the Strongest Karate. As our ideals and principles set us apart as martial artists, we will continue to contribute to society and take concrete steps in promoting Kyokushin Karate to the far corners of the earth. This is our goal and our responsibility as descendants of Sosai Mas Oyama’s legacy. 

As an example of our activities for social welfare, we have raised recovery funds for victims of the Great Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami, and by organizing all domestic Kyokushin events, have raised awareness and donated funds and goods directly to affected areas through the Japan Red Cross. It has been almost three years since the disaster hit the Tohoku area, but people in the area is still suffering and far from recovery. We are determined to continue our efforts and I hope you will keep supporting this important initiative in Japan. 

We, the Kyokushinkaikan, declared the Year 2011, “Meichi Gannen” (New Year for Enlightenment) on January 11th, 2011 – just two months before the Great Tohoku Earthquake. At the time, I announced our organizational purpose, “through the wisdom of Budo Karate, the Kyokushinkaikan strives to attain the goal of World Peace by developing all generations to contribute to society”, and initiated the three organizational directives: “Strive to be the strongest”, “Mutual benefit between society and organization” and, “Eternal prosperity.” As time constantly moves forward and society changes, Meichi Gannen illustrates the goals we should set for ourselves, what we can give back to society, and what we can do for the future by training Kyokushin Karate. The ideal of the Kyokushinkaikan is to “keep our heads low, eyes high, mouths shut; basing ourselves on filial piety and benefit others”. This is the basis of Sosai Oyama’s teaching, “those who take care of their parents contribute to society, and those who contribute to society are loyal to nation.” This philosophy surpasses discrimination based on national borders, ethnicity, race, politics, religion, and philosophy, and leads to international friendship and World Peace. Sosai’s ideals should be combined with the directives of Meichi Gannen to reach our goals through daily practice in the Dojo, through the all-encompassing global events such as the World Open, and then back again to basic training in the Dojo, where we learn from our mistakes and gain from our successes to better ourselves and the world around us. Life goes full circle. 

Sosai Oyama liked to say, “One must strive to win all the time.” I believe people take this literally to mean, one should always try to WIN. But, I believe what Sosai Oyama really meant was much deeper. For example, to endure tough daily practice in preparation for a championship is a challenge. Whether one who wins a championship will go on to win the next one is again a challenge, and whether one who lost a championship will be able to use his experience to get back up and then win the next one is a challenge as well. For the average person, to perform everyday tasks and duties for others, versus, to do only what they like to do for themselves is also a challenge. Take a look at yourself from a third person’s perspective. Ask yourself: are you escaping from responsibility? Are you blaming others for your failure? Or are you doing your best to tackle your challenges and succeed through your own hard work? Sosai’s Oyama’s words mean something much broader than just winning matches; it can be related to everything you face in life’s daily challenges. Budo training is to reflect on your self and to constantly improve. 

In recognition of this very special 50th Anniversary, Kyokushinkaikan will hold the renowned Kyokushin Challenge, the “100 Man Kumite” on April 26, 2014 – which happens to mark the 20th year since the passing of Sosai Oyama. Tariel Nikoleishvili, the current World Open Champion, and Kentaro Tanaka, former All Japan Champion, have both accepted the challenge. It has been 4 years since the last 100 Man Kumite, and only 8 individuals have successfully completed it in the last 50 years. It is the toughest challenge in Kyokushin, and I hope all our members worldwide will cheer on these two men. 

Additionally, Sosai Oyama’s 20th Memorial Ceremony will be held in Tokyo instead of Mitsumine to coincide with the International Karate Friendship events on April 19 and 20, 2014. The 31st All Japan Weight Category Championships will be held in June, and the 2014 Kyokushin Sai will be in August and the 46th All Japan Open Karate Tournament will be held on November 2 and 3, 2014, along with the 50th Anniversary Party. I hope I will see many of you these special occasions as we celebrate this milestone Anniversary and look with anticipation, good will and hope towards the next 50 years. 

I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2014, OSU! 

Kancho Shokei Matsui
President, International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan