What martial arts go well with Kyokushin?

“I have not permitted myself to be ignorant of any martial art that exists. Why? Such ignorance is a disgrace to someone who follows the path of the martial arts.”- Mas. Oyama

This question was asked on Quora recently and I thought I would share my answer with all of you who follow my blog. What was interesting to me were the other answers a few of which claimed Kyokushin was an “incomplete” art because we “don’t punch the face” and so was a waste of time. My answer, which follows, was shaped by those other answers and comments.

“Not all Kyokushin schools are alike. Kyokushin was founded upon the concept of what would work in a “real fight”. If you look at Sosai Masutatsu Oyama’s three major works, ‘What is Karate’, ‘This is Karate’, and ‘Advanced Karate’, you would find a full 70% of what he taught was within standup grappling range.

Kyokushin is often criticized because it doesn’t teach students to “punch the face”. That is not totally true. It’s not that Kyokushin doesn’t teach punching and strikes to the face.Where do you think seiken ago uchi, uraken gammen uchi, and seiken jodan tsuki, to name a few examples, are aimed? The problem in a lot of dojo’s is that hand techniques to face and head don’t get practiced enough in sparring. Let’s not confuse the style of Kyokushin with the ruleset for knockdown 🙂 I remember my sensei telling me long ago that, “anytime you take a martial art and turn it into a sport… you weaken it”. (a few of you may have seen me write this before)

I started training in 1980 and in the dojo I came up in we absolutely punched to the face (wearing lightweight gloves) and were allowed to grab, takedown, and throw during sparring. If training for a competition, including knockdown, then we would train to that ruleset. I had a student years ago who had previously trained in judo. He asked to do randori with me once after class and was shocked when I took him down and put him in an armbar. As I said, not all Kyokushin schools are alike 😉

The problem that arose with the introduction of Knockdown competition, was that more and more Kyokushin dojos started to focus on the sport aspect, which does not allow punching to the face, grabbing, throws, etc… The end result has been a generation (actually a few generations now) of instructors who often are not teaching those things because they had little to no practice in it themselves. There are exceptions of course but it seems to be true more often than it should be.

Nowadays there are many dojos where sparring is conducted under knockdown rules (no face punches or grappling), and their other training focuses on conditioning, kihon, renraku, and kata. For students in those dojos who want to become a more well-rounded fighter, I would suggest first talking to your sensei. There is something to be said for building a good foundation before branching out and he will (should) be the one who will let you know that you are ready for that. He may even have suggestions for you as to styles and teachers in your local area that can help you accomplish your goals. When I was a brown belt my own teacher recommended someone to train with in taijitsu and kobudo.

Having said all of this, my own opinion is that boxing, for footwork, body movement, and hand skills, along with a grappling art like judo, BJJ, or wrestling would be good choices. These are all skills that will complement or help you improve upon what you’ve learned in Kyokushin. Good luck! Osu!”

To the above I will simply add that I’m trying to write a little more these days. I have several more articles in the pipeline. I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts on this and other subjects. OSU!

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Bill Stewart

I attended my first Kyokushin class in 1980.

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