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!