Of all Karate styles, Kyokushin Karate (meaning ‘Ultimate Truth’) stands out in the crowd. It looks similar to other styles - white uniforms, color belt system, grading syllabus, dojo etiquette, kata, kihon and kumite.
Traditional - but quite different!
Kyokushin Karate, also known as Kyokushinkai, is respected in Karate circles and in the wider martial arts as a ‘hard’ style with its own very high standards. Strenuous training and contact sparring build the kind of spirit and endurance needed to help prepare realistically for serious physical confrontation.
Kyokushin students earn everything they get. There are no shortcuts to becoming tough. Only hard, disciplined training can produce the kind of results Kyokushin Karate is famous for.
Why Kyokushin is Different
Kyokushin Karate does not pretend. Everything about it is open to scrutiny and rigorously tested. Here are 3 points of difference...
1. Knockdown Fighting Aimed at actually defeating the opponent by knockdown (including kicks to the head) not the simulated encounters seen in other Karate styles.
2. Tameshiwari The breaking of solid objects like wood, ice and concrete. This is also used to decide fights that don’t result in a clear winner.
3. Multiple Kumite Continuous full contact sparring matches against many different opponents - sometimes 50 or more... See below!
The effectiveness of striking techniques like Shuto - the Karate chop - are tested in displays of tameshiwari. Kicks, punches and leg sweeps are tested in matches close to real fighting known as ‘knockdown’ and the ultimate effectiveness of the whole system is tested in a way unique to Kyokushin - multiple man kumite tests.... and we mean multiple...
Karate’s Ultimate Test - The 100 Man Kumite
To understand the culture of Kyokushinkai you need look no further than the 100 Man Kumite test. This extreme challenge is not for everyone - infact only a few have done it. The test is open to anyone over the age of 18.
This test is proof positive that Kyokushin Karate is serious!
Facing 4 or 5 other black belts in a knockdown contest lasting 2 minutes one after the other would give an average Karate black belt something to remember.
Taking on 8 or 10 would be tough, real tough, beyond the ability of most.
Think about 20 trained black belt adversaries. All different weights, shapes and sizes - all rested and all coming at you one at a time intent on just one thing - taking you down.
Having the courage to do this is admirable. To make it you would need to do some serious prep. Many fights over many months might help you get used to what’s ahead. Trading full contact Karate hits in every match accumulating knocks, bruises and cuts with every blow you take - depleting your energy with every blow you strike. You would struggle to maintain any level of consistency fight after fight, even if your opponents didn’t try hard. But they do!
...not many make it to 50
Let’s double that number and add 10 more. Imagine fighting 50 opponents a string of fifty fresh black belts lined up to face you in a no BS duel with unprotected fists, feet knees and elbows. And these guys don’t just walk in from the street, they are sitting watching this - watching how you react to every kick and punch - spotting your weaknesses - preparing for their one chance to take you out.
To get through you would need to prepare like you have never prepared before. You would need to dig real deep. If you make it to 30, you’ve probably gone beyond anything you could train for. You’re out of breath, body pounded, drenched in sweat, limbs heavy and sore - heart thumping. Fear is replaced by fatigue. If you lapse into survival mode, conserve energy or start feebly swinging your arms and legs it won’t be enough - you need to win these matches! Can you keep going? Do you want to?
If you make it to 50 standing up you are bordering on superhuman. You are elite among Karateka of any Karate style.
Only a trickle of men have done this...they have courage. People don’t queue up to fight 50 guys - now you know why!
If you have already heard about the extremes of Kyokushin Karate you may accept that this actually happens.
On the other hand you may have some doubts.
Don’t doubt it. It actually happens!
...very few make it to 100
Can you even contemplate facing 100 Karate black belt opponents?
Getting your head around that dizzying prospect is hard enough, what about actually turning up to do it? Four hours of non stop full contact fighting where you can’t pause to get your breath or attend to injuries. We won’t bother trying to describe how you might feel - because we don’t know.
Has it been done?
Yes... by less than 20 people!
The 100 Man Kumite was first done in 1965 by Steve Arneil of England (born South Africa). To date only 17 people have done it.
The handful of individuals who have successfully completed the Kyokushin Karate 100 man kumite test are special. They are tough beyond imagination. They have tasted the outer limits of human potential on all levels - physical, mental and emotional.
They are members of a unique club. They have demonstrated their indomitable spirit - true Karate spirit - the spirit of ‘Osu’.
Watch Matsui Completing the 100 Man Kumite Test...
Special Note In 1995 Brazil’s Francisco Filho did it twice, then in 2004 Australia's Sensei Naomi Wood added her name to the true elites of Kyokushin Karate by becoming the only female ever to complete the 100 "Man" Kumite test and the first person who has done so fighting only black belt opponents!
Go to Karate Women
If fighting 100 opponents is special, how would you describe fighting 300? Is such a thing possible? Who could do it? Who has what it takes to fight 300 real fights back-to-back?
We said Kyokushin Karate is different - didn't we. Not only does it test the limits, it keeps pushing them!
One man has done it - the founder of Kyokushin the legendary Karate master Mas Oyama.
Read about Mas Oyama