Sensei Tom Callahan, Kyokushin-Kan’s California branch chief, is opening the Santa Monica dojo
construcion is under way.
He teaches Mas Oyama’s karate style as well as his philosophies.
In the decade following Mas Oyama’s death, the 12 million
member International Karate Organization that he built has
fragmented several times into several smaller organizations.
In 2002, Hatsuo Royama, one of Mas Oyama’s early students
from the Oyama Dojo era, along with many of his friends and
followers, split from the then largest group of Sosai’s followers,
the KyokushinKAIKAN, and created a new organization called
Hatsuo Royama had struggled for nearly a decade to support
the young leader of the Kyokushinkaikan - his junior by 15
years - but in the end he was finally forced to accept the fact
that that organization was no longer being led in a direction that
would have met with the approval of his teacher, Mas Oyama.
The late karate legend, Mas Oyama, said time and time again
that the most important element of Kyokushin karate was the
BUDO SPIRIT which encompasses elements of proper behavior,
courtesy, the spirit of Osu, and good will towards man, in addition
of course to fighting prowess.
In 2002, Hatsuo Royama realized that this all-important element
of Mas Oyama’s organization had been replaced by Mas Oyama’s
initial successor with a hunger for money and that the “budo spirit”
had been largely replaced by the “business spirit” in the inner
chambers of the Kyokushin leadership.
Human relationships, friendships, and sempai-kohai (senior-junior)
relationships, which Mas Oyama held as all-important, were being
butchered in the name of money and a lust for power.
Additionally, Royama had been forced to face the conclusion that
Kyokushin’s fighting prowess was suffering under the new leadership
as well. During Mas Oyama’s lifetime there was no question in the
hearts and minds of the Japanese public that Kyokushin was the
world’s strongest karate.
Royama and others knew that the reason that it remained so was
because of the emphasis that Mas Oyama placed on the real-world
application of karate techniques. Mas Oyama created a full-contact
style of tournament competition in order to popularize budo karate,
but never went so far as to equate that tournament-style fighting with
what he believed to the essence of budo karate.
Kyokushin tournament-style fighting IS a great venue for developing
the win-at-all-costs fighting spirit of the karateka, yet it remains far
removed from real life-and-death combat for self-defense. Punches
to the head, for example, were removed from Kyokushin competition
in the name of the popularization of karate that Mas Oyama achieved.
The reason Kyokushin fighters become the strongest under Mas
Oyama’s teaching was that they trained for real-life application and
then fought in the less-dangerous by comparison tournament-style
environment. By 2002, however, Shihan Royama and others had
realized that the new leadership of Mas Oyama’s organization had
abandoned Mas Oyama’s emphasis on real-world application and
instead lowered its standards to hold tournament-style fighting as
all-important. After all, it was tournament-style fighting that generated
money and fame.
As a result, Hatsuo Royama and other older, wiser instructors of
Kyokushin karate - such as Shihan Tsuyoshi Hiroshige who holds
the record for training more Japanese and world champions than any
other instructor - realized that under Kyokushin’s current leadership,
Kyokushin was losing its edge. After ten years of decline following
Mas Oyama’s death, Kyokushin was no longer the world’s
Shihan Royama and Shihan Hiroshige and many followers, therefore,
broke with the largest remnant of Mas Oyama’s organization, the
KyokushinKAIKAN, and founded the rival Kyokushin-kan with the
intention of returning Kyokushin Karate to the high level of esteem
that it commanded during Mas Oyama’s lifetime. They resolved to do
this by ensuring that the budo spirit of proper behaviour, courtesy, the
spirit of Osu, the spirit of friendship, the sempai-kohai system, and good
will towards man would remain of primary importance, while at the
same time refreshing Mas Oyama’s early emphasis of real-world karate
application before it became tainted by the monetary lure of tournament
fighting for financial gain.
One of Hatsuo Royama’s first steps upon forming Kyokushin-kan was
the re-establishment of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin Shogakukai foundation
as prescribed in Mas Oyama’s will at the time of his death. Mas Oyama
had originally founded this nonprofit foundation in Japan many years
earlier with the mission of strengthening the bodies, minds and souls of
Japanese young people while at the same time fostering ideals that would
increase the possibilities for world peace.
The purpose of establishing this organization as a government recognized
nonprofit foundation was to ensure that money and the hunger for money
would never belittle the ultimate truth and lofty ideals of the Kyokushin Way.
At the time of his death, Mas Oyama willed that his followers should
re-establish the foundation that he’d created, and the failure on the side
of the KyokushinKAIKAN’s young leadership to achieve that goal had
become yet another reason why Royama and others felt compelled to
break away and follow a path that their teacher, Mas Oyama, would have
celebrated. This point is supported by the fact that of the surviving board
members of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin Shogakukai Foundation - a board
composed of trusted advisors of Mas Oyama during his lifetime most of
them have assumed their positions on the board and are supporting
In the years since Kyokushin-kan was founded, over 6000 Japanese
karateka have flocked to support its cause in 50 branches composed of
many dojos spread across Japan. Additionally, 25 overseas branches
have formally been established, including Russia, South Africa, Korea,
Kazakhstan, the United States and others. Also, for these three years
Kyokushin-kan has sponsored annual all-Japan and all-Japan weight
category tournaments held in Saitama, north of Tokyo, and all
Kyokushin-kan members eagerly celebrated Kyokushin-kan’s 1st World
Open Karate Tournament held in Moscow in September, 2005.