Kyokushin Karate and Supplement, Ikken
Kyokushin Karate is a style of Japanese Karate founded by Mas Oyama. Sensei Ligo was a personal, residential student of Mas Oyama in 1990 and 1991, and he holds one of only 3 certificates ever issued by Mas Oyama to Westerners for his famed Young Lions Uchi Deshi program, Sensei Ligo having completed 2 years of the grueling 3-year program before any foreigner had ever graduated. Kancho Hatsuo Royama, the chairman of Kyokushin-kan (our current Kyokushin Karate organization), was also a personal student of Mas Oyama, although from a much earlier time, and for many more years. Kancho Royama, from whom Ligo Dojo students have opportunities to learn in person, has been Sensei Ligo’s primary teacher for the past 17 years, ever since Kyokushin-kan was founded to return Kyokushin to the purity of its Budo Karate roots.
Ikken (similar to Tai Chi or Qigong) is used to uncover, and learn how to utilize, the body’s nervous system (Chi energy) as a viable force that can be used to supplement and enhance Karate movements. Both Mas Oyama and Kancho Royama learned Ikken from Sawai Sensei (deceased) who brought Ikken to Japan from China. Mas Oyama used Ikken in his original synthasis of Kyokushin, and Kancho Royama practiced it to develop the power he used to defeat “the foreign giants” whom the smaller-statured Japanese defeated in the First World Tournament in 1971. Sensei Ligo’s primary teachers of Ikken have been Kancho Royama, and Shihan Ishijima Masahide (Kyokushin-kan’s first Kata Champion, and chief technical instructor), and prior to taking 6th place in Kyokushin-kan’s World Kata Tournament in 2017, Sensei Ligo increased his practice of Ikken to three hours per day. Ikken is mostly a solitary practice for which we don’t have time in the dojo, but Sensei Ligo teaches it so that team members will practice on their own.
Kancho Royama teaching Sensei Ligo and 2 Ligo Dojo Students Ikken in a private lesson in Tokyo just before the pandemic struck.
The tenets of Kyokushin Karate are described in some detail on our Home page, but are Kata (formal exercises), Bunkai (the application of Kata movements), and Kumite (practice fighting). In the West, and since the 1990’s practitioners of Kyokushin Karate have begun with kumite (fighting) and worked backwards in the direction of Kata (formal exercises) in an often futile attempt to supplement their fighting ability (futile because it’s late to learn kata as an afterthought). In founding Kyokushin-kan, Kancho Royama turned this notion on its head, and returns us to the origins of Kyokushin when he was a young student of Mas Oyama at the original Oyama Dojo where basics (Kata) were the basis of self-defense, and from them, they developed fighting. While every student should have kumite (practice fighting) experience, we at Ligo Dojo recognize that full-contact fighting is not going to be for every student, day in and day out, so we gladly follow our teacher Kancho Royama’s proscribed path of Kumite FROM Kata. There’s more about this on our Home Page.
Houshoukai’s Four Martial Arts
We originally started learning the four kata-based martial arts of Houshoukai in order to supplement our Kyokushin Karate, but soon discovered there’s so much here, of such vital importance, that we now pursue them as a unit with near equal vigor to our Kyokushin Karate. Under the instruction of Soke Hiroki Okazaki (Founder and Chairman of Houshokai AND chief technical instructor in Kyokushin-kan under Kancho Royama), we also pursue mastery of four martial arts Soke Okazaki acquired from his life’s second teacher, Soke Shiokawa Houshou (now deceased), who taught:
- Mugairyu Iaido (drawing and cutting with the Japenese sword)
- Ryukyu Kobudo (traditional Japanese defensive weapons including sai, tonfa, bo, and others)
- Jo-do (use of the short Jo staff for defense against a Japanese sword)
- Shitoryu Karate-do (the traditional form of Karate from which all others were born)
Kids at Ligo Dojo learn only the bo staff, but Team members (adults and teens) practice all from the very beginning with the exception of Iaido and Jo-do, class sections of which they are invited to join after proving their commitment in the other class sections. There is one rank available to students in Kyokushin Karate, represented by colored belts, and eventually black belts. In the Houshoukai arts, there is a ranking system in all four arts and students are encouraged to test and rank in these as well.
In Japan at a cultural festival with Houshoukai. Sensei Ligo is pictured, top left, and Soke Okazaki, center front.