Fight to be First : Excerpt #5 from A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide, Coming Soon

(I have previously shared here 4 excerpts from my forthcoming book’s Introduction. The body of the book, however, is made up of 116 one, two, or thee page essays, all describing the ideal attitude to have while practicing karate. All of it is kind of “no duh, of course it’s that way” for the Japanese student, but unless you’ve taught karate in the west, you might be surprised how hard it is to convince the beginning Western karate student how they’re supposed to come in the dojo engaged, rather than passively waiting for karate to fall on them from above. I think you’ll be able to see as you read this first one of the 116 essays. I recently spoke with Annie Gottlieb, my editor for this project, she’s 110 pages in and still loving it. We’re hoping that this is the missing link. Americans, Westerners perhaps, who read this book, will at least understand what’s expected of them as the BEGIN their training in Budo karate.)

1.      Fight to be First

This is the central attitude of training in the Budo karate dojo. You might hear it referred to as “having strong spirit.”

It’s not something someone will give you. It’s the attitude that even the whitebelt must endeavor to BRING to the dojo from his/her first week of training. It is a requirement of participation, not something you’ll get over time by waiting for it to come. Ask yourself: What’s the best way to ensure I’m not last? Continue reading


Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide by Nathan Ligo, excerpt #4.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan's 1st World Tournament in Moscow.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan’s 1st World Tournament in Moscow, 2005.

(Here is a 4th excerpt from the introduction to my forthcoming book, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide: Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. To read the earlier posts, click on the “Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide” tab above.)

Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends 

Strong spirit or powerful attitudes (such as those described within) in the closed environment of the dojo will run away and become the norm if the majority adopts them. That means that if enough people set off on the right path, it will be next to effortless for newcomers to fall into place. If all their role models are behaving correctly, after all, newcomers will have no doubt as to how they’re supposed to behave. The adoption of powerful attitude, in this case, happens automatically.

This is where any dojo’s karate should be. This is where every instructor should endeavor to bring his/her dojo. Negative trends in the majority, can also, of course run away and become the norm. I’ve watched this occur in various eras of my own dojos’ development. It’s critical that every student carries his/her own weight and understands what his/her role is supposed to be. Hence, I’ve written this book to offer you all a leg up, a gentle nudge in the right direction. Continue reading

Nathan Ligo fighting with Japan Champion Masuda Akira in 1991

We chose the order of opponents for Masuda’s 100-man kumite by lots. I drew number 7. By the time he’d fought 60 90-second fights that day, he was pretty spent. Here, right at the beginning, he was just getting warmed up. This fight did a lot to build my confidence because I stood up to a Japan champion for some time . . . before he won by TKO, his famous chudan mawashi geri that completely collapsed my lungs. I was 20 years old. It was 1991.

Our Moment in History by Nathan Ligo : Excerpt #3 from A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide

Our Moment in History : For the Kyokushin Instructor

(The following is a 3rd excerpt from my forthcoming book, A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide, Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. Although this essay, Our Moment in History, was originally part of the introduction, I finally moved it to an Appendix when my Introduction become larger than I wanted it to be. Click on the Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide tab above and you can read two prior excerpts from my Introduction. The manuscript is currently with the editor. My hope is that readers will be able to order their published copies on Amazon by the end of June.)

It’s 2013 and it’s been 19 years since the death of our founder, Mas Oyama.

From one massive organization governing all, Kyokushin has evolved into a style of karate that may be taken up by anyone. Large swaths of it are still governed by international organizations that battle for prominence, just as small swaths of it are likewise governed by smaller organizations. The independent dojo, in the West, has come to be. For all of these entities, however, big or small, the question that we all struggle to answer is whether to preserve that which we witnessed of Kyokushin during Mas Oyama’s lifetime, or whether to allow it to evolve. Which elements should we fight to keep unchanged, and which ones would Mas Oyama, himself, have allowed to change with the times? Continue reading

Blackbelt Magazine Article about Mas Oyama by Nathan Ligo


One of my earliest forays into published writing was this Blackbelt Magazine Article that ran in 1994. I was at Davidson College soon after the two years I spent in Japan. The article begins:

The Japanese refer to Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin Karate as kenka karate, meaning “brawling” or “brutal” karate. But Mas Oyama tells is students “Baka! Kenka karate ja-nai! Budo Karate da!” which translates to “Fool! This is not brawling karate! It’s budo karate!” Continue reading

Nathan Ligo Interviewed on ABC News

Video: ABC News Interview 2011


Click here to see the Ligo Dojo of Budo Karate Website.

An Excerpt from A Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide: Book Coming Soon by Nathan Ligo

Here's Annie Gottlieb with her late husband Jacques Sandulescu, lifelong friend of Mas Oyama.

Here’s Annie Gottlieb with her late husband Jacques Sandulescu, lifelong friend of Mas Oyama.

I was very pleased to learn yesterday that my longtime friend, sempai, and editor, Annie Gottlieb, is 50 pages into the edit of my Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide: Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. How great to hear that she calls it “terrific”, “compulsive,” and “easy to edit.” The previous post (see “Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide” tab above) shared the first part of the introduction. Here’s the second, a brief essay called Kyokushin’s Unconquerable Country.

Annie keeps herself very busy and the book is 300 pages long, but hopefully if I have it back within the next 6 weeks, I can have it to press in less than three months. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited to share this one. Here’s one that all of my students should own, and can use on a regular basis to enhance their learning experience.

Introduction Part 2: Kyokushin’s Unconquerable Country


Kyokushin’s unconquerable country.

At least Mas Oyama considered it to be, and it is critical that we consider what it might mean to us in the West that our founder, Mas Oyama, at the very least believed the American personality, and to a lesser degree the Western one, to be the one in the world that was the most inhospitable to Japanese Budo, the martial way of Japan.

Continue reading