Kyokushin kaikan (極真会館) is a style of full-contact, stand-up,  karate founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama (大山倍達 ,Ōyama Masutatsu) a Japanese citizen of A Zainichi Korean origin, who was born under the name Choi Yong-I (최영의).
Etymologically, Kyoku stands for "Ultimate", Shin for "Truth" or "Reality", Kai for "Organization" and Kan for "Building" or "School". The symbol of Kyokushin Karate is the Kanku, which is derived from the Kanku Kata, the 'Sky Gazing Form'.

In this kata, the hands are raised and the fingers meet to form an opening through which the sky is viewed.  The top and bottom points
Kyokushin Karate
of the  Kanku represent the first fingers of each hand touching at the top and the thumbs touching at the bottom, symbolizing the peaks or ultimate points.  The thick sections at the sides represent the wrists, symbolizing power.  The center circle represents the opening between the hands through which the sky is viewed, symbolizing infinite depth.  The whole  Kanku is enclosed by a circle, symbolizing continuity and circular action.
Although the Kyokushin system is based on traditional karate like Shotokan and Goju-ryu, technically, it is a circular style, as opposed to Shotokan karate, which is considered a linear style and closer to Goju-ryu, another mostly circular style. However, Kyokushin also incorporates many elements of combat sports like boxing and kickboxing in kumite.

Many of these techniques are not found in other styles of karate. Today, some Kyokushin fighters appear in kickboxing events like K-1.

Regular Kyokushin karate training includes a wider range of techniques than Shotokan and competition at advanced belt level allows "knock-down" full contact fighting. As a result in Kyokushin training emphasizes strength and conditioning exercises to withstand long battles, while in Shotokan the first strike is supposed to be lethal, so competition never allows full contact hits.

Kyokushin karate also includes tameshiwara, or breaking techniques (wood boards, concrete slabs, etc.) as a training focus; while breaking is not emphasized in Shotokan.
Principles and Techniques
Tameshiwari or breaking techniques
Breaking bricks or wood is not a purpose of karate, but rather serves as a indicator of acquired power, speed and technique.
Photo © Yermiyahoo ben ami
Kyokushin has influenced many of the "full-contact" schools of karate, emphasizing realistic combat, physical toughness, and practicality in its training curriculum. The Knockdown karate competition system pioneered by kyokushin has been adopted by many different karate styles and organizations. "

In most Kyokushin organizations, hand and elbow strikes to the head or neck are prohibited. However, kicks to the head, knee strikes, punches to the upper body, and kicks to the inner and outer leg are permitted.

In some Kyokushin organizations, especially outside of a tournament environment, gloves and shin protectors are worn. Children always wear head gear to lessen the impact of any kicks to the head.

Competition and Tournaments

Most Kyokushin tournaments follow "knock-down karate" rules in which points are awarded for knocking one's opponent to the floor with kicks, punches, or sweeps. Grabbing and throwing are generally not allowed in Kyokushin tournaments. When they are, they are legal only if performed in less than a second. Hooks are usually legal if performed for a 'split second.' Arm or hand strikes to the head, face, neck or spine are usually not permitted, but kicks to the head are allowed. If, however, the opponent turns his back while the opponent is throwing a technique, there is no penalty. Outside of Japan straight kicks to the front of the knee are usually disallowed. Knock-outs do sometimes occur and minor to moderate injuries are common, but serious injuries are rare."

Tournament fighting under knock-down karate rules is significantly different as the objective is to down an opponent. Full-contact sparring in Kyokushin is considered the ultimate test of strength, endurance, and spirit.

Belt System

In Kyokushin the order of the belts are:

    * White
    * red (Sometimes orange)
    * Blue
    * Yellow
    * Green
    * Brown
    * Black

Each colored belt had two levels, the second being represented by a stripe on through the belt.

In addition to the number of rounds of kumite as mentioned above in the Grading section, a special tradition of Kyokushin has been the 50- and 100- man kumite. The 100-man kumite was designed as a special test for advanced practitioners of the art. In these extreme examples of kumite, the subject of the test fights 50 to 100 opponents (depending on the test) in rapid succession, usually two-minute bouts separated by one-minute rest periods. The subject has to "win" (i.e., not get knocked-out) in at least 50-percent of the bouts in order to be deemed as passing the test. One example of someone who successfully completed the 100-man fight is Miyuki Miura. Reportedly, only 16 people have successfully completed the 100-man fight. © 2009-2010. All rights reserved.
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Reproduction strictly prohibited.
See also:
Shotokan karate
The Art of Hojo Undo Power Training for Traditional Karate
The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training for Traditional Karate
Michael Clarke
More info >>
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate
by Gichin Funakoshi
By the founder of Shotokan Karate
More info >>
Etymology and Symbolism