It’s no surprise that many foreigners living in Nagoya have an interest in learning some form of martial art or another, after all this is Japan. We are living in a virtual mecca of martial art opportunities. The problem is that most dojos in the area do not advertise, at least not in English. No worries, I recently sat down with a world class Kyokushin karate champion and instructor to discover what I could about learning this fascinating and challenging art right here in town.
Within the word of martial arts Kyokushin is often referred to as “the strongest karate”. The name means, “The ultimate truth”. Founded by Korean-Japanese Masutasu Oyama, in 1964, kyokushin is a stand-up fighting style that emphasizes full-contact fighting and intense training methods. Sosai Oyama was born in Korea, but spent some time as a child in China where he studied the southern Chinese form of Kempo called, eighteen hands. Eventually, he moved to Japan where he studied judo and Okinawan karate, eventually earning 4th degree black belts in both arts. After years of intense training Sosai Oyama created his own style, Kyokushin karate.
As a young child Hitoshi Kiyama began studying Kyokushin karate and now as an adult his name is one that immediately inspires respect within the realm of karate. Between the years of 1997 and 2003 Kiyama-shihan collected such coveted titles as, World Champion (three times), All Japan Champion (two times), and European Champion (once). Currently, Kiyama-shihan is the head coach of the Japan National Team preparing them for the upcoming World Championships.
When Kiyama-shihan is not winning championships or training other future champions he spends his time teaching this fine art to regular Joes, both adults and children. His dojos focus on etiquette, physical conditioning, kata (forms), and kumite (sparring). For those daring folks who want more, there are several kumite competitions held in Japan and around the world each year. The atmosphere is friendly, yet traditional. So expect to train hard, but walk out of each class with a smile (and perhaps a few bruises).
If you would like to watch a class before deciding to join, Kiyama-shihan welcomes visitors at all of his dojos. There are three studios in Nagoya conveniently located in Sakurayama, Chigusa, and Tsurumai. Incidentally, the classes at Tsurumai are taught by one of Kiyama-shihan’s capable assistants, but instruction is available in English. Additionally, the Tokai Championship tournament will be held in Nagoya on March 22nd. Some of the area’s best martial artists will be competing and the tickets are reasonably priced.
For more information about the dojos, classes, or the upcoming Tokai Championship call: (052)-762-5119
(The term “Shihan” is reserved for karate practitioners who have earned a 5th degree black belt, or higher, and basically means “grand master”. The title “Sosai” is reserved for the founder of the art.)