Above all other content at Kyokushin-Kan’s International Instructors Seminars, is Kancho’s message, “Attend these seminars! Take what you’ve learned back to your countries!” It is my intent in this blog post to drive that message home, and then discuss some certain realities about the seminars in regards to traveling to them from the US.
(This author thought it would be beneficial to the Kyokushin-kan community to summarize, to the best of my ability, some content of Kancho Royama’s Internatinoal Instructors’ Seminars, held every year in Japan. Although I do have the dual advantage of having attended more of Kancho’s seminars than any other American, and of having acted as Japanese-English interpreter for those seminars in many cases, the reader should understand that, still, I can only do the best I can to explain concepts presented by Kancho and other high-level instructors in Japan. I do have the advantage of having been there, but my level of understanding in karate is only just what it is, and I can only explain what Kancho and others explain, through the lens of my own limited understanding. Yet to assist the development of Kyokushin-kan in the West, I will do the best I can.)
First off, Kyokushin-Kan is NOT just another IKO. (I saw one Kyokushin-Kan T-shirt produced in a Kyokushin-Kan branch that actually called us “IKO 6.” Someone else might call us that, but we should not.) Please, we are not IKO 6, or any other IKO. We are Kyokushin-Kan. We also happen to be an international karate organization, but, please, “Kyokushin-kan,” not just another IKO. We have to keep in mind that we are something different.
Kyokushin-Kan is not just another label under which Kyokushin dojos and instructors worldwide can continue their own versions of what Kyokushin has been to them up until that point. Sure, we are that ALSO, but Kyokushin-Kan is also in possession of a “cutting edge” team of instructors that’s both highly informed as to what the whole picture of international Kyokushin looks like in the present day, AND has the expertise to guide our members to the forefront of Kyokushin’s world-wide evolution. Of course we have all learned Kyokushin from various instructors who were taught by students of Mas Oyama,or from teachers who themselves learned from Mas Oyama directly at various eras of Kyokushin’s development. Of course, that content is valuable too! Kancho would never deny it. However, one should also have no doubt that there is a specific content that is unique to Kyokushin-Kan, and that every member should endeavor to understand what that content is, and every instructor should endeavor to bring that content back to his/her country and introduce it to his/her students.
No one disputes that Kancho Royama is the man to go to, worldwide, in terms of Budo, Japan’s martial tradition that formed the basis of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin synthesis. No one disputes that his seniority over almost all active Kyokushin instructors in Japan means that he is better positioned to understand Kyokushin as a whole, better positioned to know what part of its evolution made it stronger over the years, and which parts of what made it strong originally were lost along the way. Our vice-chairman, Shihan Hiroshege, is well known for being the teacher of more of Japan’s (and the world’s) champions than any other instructor. No one in Japan disputes that Kyokushin-Kan’s Shihan Okazaki is the best in the world in terms of kata and bunkai. In these areas, the other organizations often take their pointers from us. Kancho, having learned Ikken from Sawai Sensei (who also taught Mas Oyama) now brings the Chinese master Sun Li to our instructor’s seminars in order for us to learn directly from Sawai Sensei’s successor.
Who Should Attend International Seminars? Who Can?
The answer: Any adult student of Kyokushin from any of the world’s branches who wants to, and who has their teacher’s permission. The seminars are earmarked for “instructors and black belt level students” but the reality is that every year, there are many non-black belt adult foreign students who travel to Japan and attend the seminars “as long as they are accompanied by” their instructor or a back belt level student, and, at this time, this participation by non-instructors is encouraged, not dissuaded. All instructors who possibly can, SHOULD endeavor to attend (This is Kancho’s request of us, after all!), and all instructors should endeavor to attend regularly. Of course, it’s expensive to travel to Japan, but with a little planning it can become a reality, and it’s my intention here to provide some guidance as to how much it actually costs to travel to Japan from the US. Additionally I will extend the invitation to any US Kyokushin-Kan member who wants to travel with me to one of these seminars: Provided you have your teacher’s permission and can pay your own way, I will take you along.
I will continue this blog post, later this week with a Part 2 (and probably later a Part 3) of the same discussion.
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