I write a lot about Kata, because I do love it so much, and probably because in the previous style I practiced, practically all attention was given to bunkai of kata. However, I was reminded of something very important this past weekend, by my teacher, Sensei Steve Fogarasi.
“Kyokushin karate is a full-contact knock-down karate style! Yes, kihon (basics ) and kata ( forms ) are part of our regular training and testing, but the full-contact fighting made kyokushin world famous karate style with feared fighters!
When you say: I practice kyokushin! – everyone thinks of the strong fighting, conditioning and KO’s we do, the Never Give Up Spirit we have!
You will be respected and yes, maybe even hated , but when your knuckles and shins are landing on your opponent’s body , everything becomes clear!
In the world of full-contact martial arts, actions speak louder than words! … so always prove your self in the dojo sparring , in testing and in competition!” ~ Sensei Steve Fogarasi
This was a heavy lesson for me, as it reminded me of why I chose to get involved in Kyokushin in the first place. I had trained in American (Chinese) Kenpo in my youth, and though I received a shodan in it, I never felt legitimate. Yes, I could do some flashy moves with a partner in prearranged training, but I was never put in a situation where I was really hit, or that I had to hit someone. Even the “sparring” we did was light and more like, “tag! You’re it!”
I chose Kyokushin because I felt like a phony. I had this black belt that didn’t mean much. I had no confidence. I wanted to learn what it truly was like to be in front of someone and not only be concerned with getting hit, but knowing I had the confidence to strike back.
I was lucky enough to walk into a dojo that had, in my humble opinion, one of the best instructors in martial arts I have ever met. Sensei Steve Fogarasi.
Sensei Fogarasi’s words above reminded also of why Sosai Masutatsu Oyama founded the Kyokushinkai, The Society of the Ultimate Truth. Because the ultimate truth can only be found in real fighting. Not point fighting. When you see a full-contact tournament (or even the semi-contact portion), you immediately observe the difference. Rather than referees calling points, you hear the grunts from fighters that signify a strike has landed. The KO’s. The doubling over from a strike to the solar plexus. There’s no need to guess at the potential damage that could have been brought, because you see it firsthand.
These are all good reminders for me. It isn’t that Kihon, Kata and Bunkai are not important, it just isn’t what the style was developed to emphasize. These are still important parts of Kyokushin, and are building blocks, but the true test is in fighting.
I believe for me, part of the reason I have been putting so much focus into kata and bunkai is because I am not as young as I use to be. While I am in good shape and move very well for my age, 44, I know there will come a day when I won’t be as agile. I will never want to abandon my art, so I know at that time I can still be heavily involved and devote more of my studies to movements that we still cultivate my mind, body and spirit.
However, until that time comes, if it does… I must keep fresh in my mind the true foundation of Kyokushin:
“The heart of our karate is real fighting.
There can be no proof without real fighting.
Without proof there is no trust.
Without trust there is no respect.
This is a definition in the world of Martial Arts.”
~ Sosai Mas Oyama