Ligo Dojo Blog — 20 October 2013


Here is the first US Tech Committee post made since our branch chief meeting in Connecticut last weekend, and the first one since Kancho Royama made his intent to come to the US next summer to support the NA Tech Committee clear. On that note please first see this personal message from me (Nathan Ligo) to all those who attended last weekend’s BC meeting regarding the difficult topics that were discussed.

Below the new technical content displayed lower on the page (technical videos), there is a proposed set of guidelines for participation in the NA Tech Committee and Kancho’s seminar next summer. Please note that this is a DRAFT, it is a proposal, and I had hoped to submit it for approval to Shihan Fujiwara, and to the rest of you, before it becomes official. Please ask questions and be willing to discuss its finer points.


Lesson 7 Pinan Bunkai – Getting Started

Here the Ligo Dojo Technical Committee performs drills of Pinan Bunkai 1-6. There is some verbal instruction below that in a separate video clip. Please note that these drills are meant to be DUPLICATED and practiced over and over. If you see lower on the page, there is a list of all the material (drills) we’ve presented over the past 6 lessons. I still haven’t reached a point where you ought not to be able to practice ALL of them in a single 2-hour session. We do, every week. We practice some of each, blasting past the drills we know well already, and spending much of the 2nd hour on new material (and taping these video clips). The main point here is not HOW to do the individual exercises of Pinan Bunkai, but rather to show the rhythm and fluency all tech committee teams should aspire to match and surpass.

Some verbal instruction (below)  regarding the above, and general info regarding tech committee:

Lesson 7 Supplemental – Bukijutsu (Basic Boken in Preparation for Sai, Tonfa, Jo Bunkai)

Included in our Ligo Dojo Technical Committee content is a large set of multi-step bunkai kumite exercises (formal kumite drills like the bunkai for kata) in which we practice tonfa defense vs. boken (wooden sword) attack, sai defense v. boken attack, jo vs. boken attack, and karate (empty hand) vs. attacks from these various weapons, etc. Thus far, we have not shared ANY of this content in the tech committee online lessons. The purpose of the training is to understand the use of these weapons in a more fundamental way than one might by simply copying the weapons kata from the video tapes. In order to learn many of these drills, we need to have a handful of basic attacks with boken, particularly because all 4 of these traditional weapons (bo, tonfa, sai, jo) were designed to defend against sword attacks. Here, as a preview, we demonstrate our most basic boken drill. I can give some more pointers below, but the purpose of posting this today, is basically to show tech committee members in other dojos what’s coming down the pike. Please prepare by purchasing bo, jo, sai, tonfa, and boken, and by imitating this drill if possible. At AWMA most of these items are between $7 and $15, very very cheap at wholesale prices for the budget versions of these items.

I will talk more about this (boken) later, but key philosophy for weapons training can be seen in lesson 3. I am not a master for swordsmanship (of course) and I don’t claim to be.The important thing that I can teach is is the ATTITUDE that is parallel between weapons training and karate. The point, as I understand it, of learning weapons training in Kyokushin-kan is 1. to improve stances and 2. to return an attitude of lethality to karate training. In other words, with face-punches, the karateka should start to remember that this stuff is DANGEROUS. We all walk away from tournaments; but we might not from real self-defense situations. This is shown nowhere as clearly as it is when training with weapons (because weapons are much more clearly lethal than kicks and punches). So, the important thing here is to set one’s mind to the fact that “this is lethal” and “my life depends on this.” Hence, I caution my students (in the video above) against making this an arbitrary motion; “Consider that this is a motion with which you will take someone else’s life!” I tell them. “And if you don’t, that person will take yours!”

Lesson 7  What have you got so far?

Well, if you’re working on this Tech Committee material, so far you’ve got:

1. Taikyoku 1 in Detail (lesson 4)

2. “How to train” all kata, and a recommendation that you pick up particularly Sanchin and Naifanchin (and I’ll explain more detail here in the future) (lesson 2 and  lesson 4)

3. 15 or 20 minutes of basic Ikken practice. (lesson 2)

4. A white-belt level introduction to head-punches and drills to create those necessary reflexes to defend from head punches. (lesson 2)

5. An introduction to Kyokushin-Kan’s weapons philosophy. (lesson 3)

6. Basic, white-belt level, introduction to tonfa kumite drills. (lesson 3)

7. And Bo Kihon in Detail (lesson 5)

9. And Taikyoku Kata with Sai and Tonfa. (lesson 6)

10. The importance of Continuing Training for the Aging Karateka (lesson 6)

11. And New: An Introduction to Pinan Bunkai (lesson 7) and Basic Boken

Please practice this material, and remember concepts are meant to be learned, but drills are meant to be replicated.


North American Kyokushin-Kan Technical Committee Team and Seminar Guidelines (Proposed)


 Participation was always meant to be optional and flexible, not required. Kancho Royama at this point is asking that every branch participate, but it is my understanding that it is a request not an order. Clearly, we are starting to have strong unity in our domestic organization. I do believe that the way to extend that unity from our domestic organization to our international one, is to participate in this program. To do so IS to support our domestic leadership.


NA Kyokushin-Kan Technical Committee Member: Black belt members of technical committee teams.

NA Kyokushin-Kan Technical Committee Team Leader: The ranking member on a team, or the designated black belt member who has been appointed to run the weekly sessions.

NA Kyokushin-Kan Technical Committee Team Member: Non black belt members of technical committee teams.

NA Technical Committee Seminar:  3-day seminar to be held in CT in July or August 2014, instructed by Kancho Royama and Shihan Okazaki and other Japan Technical Committee members.

Team Member Qualifications:

Team members should be mature dedicated students over the age of 15 who are passionate about developing their technical ability to be more in line with the technical requirements of Kyokushin-Kan in Japan. Members need not be black belts, or fighters.

At the World Kata Championships held this year in Japan, from 6 winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd in both men and women), one was in his 40’s, 4 were teenagers, and 1 was in his 20’s.

Team members ideally would be those students within your branch that are most likely to put your branch’s “best foot forward” and develop the best technical ability your branch can muster. However, of course dedication to the cause is also a key factor. Someone with great talent for kata who can not make the weekly commitment would of course not be an appropriate selection for the team.

PLease note that everyone, team leaders and BC’s included, are meant to learn from these exercises. I would be the first to admit that I haven’t mastered them, but what I do have that I can share is a very good understanding of the goals and the philosophy that makes Kyokushin-kan tech committee training mean something. I started the Ligo Dojo tech team so that I, too, could learn. I started the team so that I would have someone to train with. All Branch Chiefs, Dojo Operators and Team Leaders should realize here the OPPORTUNITY they have to learn if they’re all willing to open their minds and learn something along side their students. For, me, I am not a master, but the activity has certainly been eye-opening.

Number of Team Members / Composition of Team:

 Our team in NC is one team leader (in this case myself) and 4 team members, for a total of 5. Everyone’s dojo is different however, and 2 people could essentially make a team, and so could 10. The more who participate the cheaper will be the recommended contribution to Kancho’s seminar, but there is also an attendance/dedication requirement so BC/DO’s should not be too hasty to make large teams of students who may or may not succeed. IF it costs $10,000 to bring Kancho and Okazaki Shihan from Japan (I think it will be considerably less than that), and if there was no revenue from non technical committee members (and I’m sure there will  be), a total of 100 technical committee members from US, Canada, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, would render the cost $100 per person. Whereas, only 50 members would leave the cost at $200 per person. Please see more on this below, and don’t worry too much at this time. Of course folks have to pay travel expenses but the seminar expense itself should not be too high. The only point I wanted to make here is that if your teams are slightly bigger, the cost will be less per person. BC/DO’s should consider that it they do not form a team at all, the cost will be greater for the participating teams. In that sense, everyone should try to do their part.

Required on each team is a Team leader who should be a black belt level instructor. There is no requirement at all that the BC/DO participates, or that the BC/DO be the team leader his/herself. The BC/DO can appoint a black belt level instructor to lead this team. On the other hand, in NC, CA and FL so far, in each case the team leader IS the BC/DO, but that is not a requirement.

There should really only be one team per dojo, BUT some BC’s have multiple dojos, and in this case one BC might have multiple teams. Remember that the more that participate the lower the Seminar cost will be.

Recommended Requirements for Participation

 Team practice should be once per week for two hours in a session dedicated to Technical Committee content, and members should ideally agree to never once miss a session between starting and the Seminar next summer. In NC, we achieve this successfully by asking team members at the end of each class if any of them have any conflicts the following week. If any do have conflicts, he/she tells us, and we collaborate to find an alternate time that we can all get together. Since we began nearly a year ago, no one has missed a class. Many of our sessions are at 6 AM on Sunday, and some have been at 5 AM. Of course variations will occur, but the progress we make with perfect attendance far out-shadows progress that can me made otherwise.

  1. Team members should endeavor to attend a minimum of 2 other regular trainings per week, so that Tech Committee training does not remove this serious body of students from the regular classes where they are needed as role models. Variations will occur.
  2. Team members should seriously consider attending Japan International Instructors Seminar in Japan in February 2014. Of course this will not be possible for most members, but all members should at least consider whether he/she might be able to make it. Those of us who have lots of experience attending these camps can advise if anyone wants more information. It can be less costly that some seem to think.
  3. Attend Kancho’s seminar in Connecticut in July or August 2014. Cost for the seminar is yet to be determined, but we hope that attendance will be high enough that cost will not exceed $100. Team members will be asked to make advance payment for this seminar through early enrollment. We can discuss, but clearly airline tickets need to be purchased and we can not wait until the last moment. See more on cost structure below.

Team Member Recognition /Identification/Replacement

 Ideally a humble shoulder patch should be designed for technical committee team members to be worn just like in Japan. Just like your fighting teams that go to tournaments to represent your dojo, this technical committee team should be allowed to believe that what they are doing, their dedication, is something special for your dojo, and for Kyokushin-kan. I am 42 years old and am not fighting in tournaments, yet this technical committee plan has given me, personally, something new and exciting in my own training to be passionate about. Right now, I am personally looking forward to participating in the next World Tournament for Kata, next time one is held. I have a long way to go, but the point is that members here should be allowed and encouraged to become passionate about the mission of developing technical ability based on Kyokushin-Kan’s Japan standard. This passionate group (whether they’re old men or teenagers or anything in between, whether they’re black belts or not) will develop better kata and they should serve as role models to influence ALL kata in your dojo. Just like your regular students aspire to be like your best fighters, your student body will also likely aspire to be like these team members.

BC/DO’s should provide a list of team members to Committee Organizer (myself) and ideally should provide a weekly one-line e-mail, simply stating, “we held our meeting this week, and we had unanimous attendance,” or “we held or meeting this week, but John D. did not participate.” In other words, I would like to keep committee-wide attendance record to judge the health of the program. Remember that all of this is up for discussion, but I humbly ask for as much support as possible, so that we can get things running smoothly.

Members can be replaced at anytime. Perhaps a team member will quit, and another will come up that wants to join. It’s never too late, but hopefully members who begin will stick it out. In NC, we have had to replace several who thought they could keep up with it but couldn’t in the end.

Technical Committee Content

Content is shared online through Budo Karate West at Please find the US Kyokushin-kan blog tab and you can find the pre-existing technical committee lessons (there are already 6 online lessons as of the writing of these guidelines). Currently they are password protected and the password is “royamakancho”, however we should really remove the password protection and make the material public. Kancho Royama’s philosophy is an open one, and it is really a Matsui-era philosophy to be defensive of our content. Our work should influence all of Kyokushin when applicable.

Content is material gleaned through attending 25 of Kancho Royama’s overseas seminars. Of course the Kyokushin-kan video tapes are a valuable resource, but imitating the video tapes falls far short of what is Kancho’s intent. The technical committee content on Budo Karate West is designed to provide depth to the training so that it means something more than simply copying. This will become clear as you view the videos.

All team members should view the videos regularly and can do so from their own homes, but the team leader is primarily responsible for understanding them to where he/she can replicate the lessons in weekly sessions.

Concepts presented are designed to be understood, and drills presented are designed to be REPLICATED by all teams. One of the great values of this first-ever national-level training exercise is that a select number of students from every branch will be practicing the identical material. Consequently when we meet all together, we can do these drills all as a group and everyone can do them competently. One goal of the exercise is to standardize kata. Yet copying kata (from a video) is a weaker way to do so. If all students practice the drills that lie behind the kata, then the kata will be standardized.

Each group should endeavor to provide 2 or 3 minute video clips (shot with cell phone cameras and uploaded to youtube) several times per month showing their attempts to duplicate the exercises. The videos can remain private (depending on request of the BC/DO) but there is no better way to motivate and show eager participation than to share your work in a public forum among the national technical committee members, so we hope groups will be brave enough to share. Note please lesson 5 in which Sensei Callahan’s technical committee group is sharing material online in videos shot in his branch in California.

My Travel

I would love to visit as many of you as possible between now and next summer, and even more than once if possible. I have already visited Florida and California to help Sensei’s Omar and Callahan establish their groups, and I would love to visit anyone who will have me. Both of these trips (to FL and CA) were so easy and fun, that I’m quite sure I will visit both of these locations again. Sensei Omar has discussed bringing his group up to visit my dojo in NC sometime between now and the holidays.


I can buy Kancho’s business-class ticket for $2300 if I buy it soon (and use 50,000 of my frequent flyer miles). This is a $3000 discount because normal cost is $5000. Kancho wants to bring Okazaki Shihan who has limited availability because of his job as a high school principal. Currently we are looking at the first week of August. If Kancho approves, I will present this date to Shihan Fujiwara for his approval.

The Seminar will be 3 days, and will be held in Cromwell, CT. Some sessions will be open only to technical committee members, and others to all members. Perhaps we will have separate sessions simultaneously with technical committee members working on higher level material than the non technical committee members.

All participants will be required to support themselves (travel, meals, accommodation), and there will be a seminar fee. There have been 3 times in my own personal past that I brought groups of a dozen students to tournaments in CT and we slept in sleeping bags in Shihan Fujiwara’s dojo. One year we brought camping stoves and cooked French toast right there in his lobby. The point is that groups who worry about the cost should find ways to be creative to make their participation possible. The reason the invitation was worded to include BC/DO’s who usually travel to CT for tournaments is because, if you can come for a tournament, you ought to be able to come for the seminar as well.

Seminar Cost

 We will simply divide the total cost of the seminar by the number of participants in order to cover the costs. My costs will include one business class ticket, 2 or 3 economy class tickets, 3 hotel rooms for 5 nights, meals for the Japanese instructors, transportation from the airport, rental of gym space if necessary. If I might estimate, I come up with:

Flights  $5500

Hotel   $1500

Meals   $1000

Transportation $300

Gym Rental $1000

Total: $9,300 so lets say $10,000.

If there were 70 technical committee members who paid $100 each, and 70 non-technical committee members who paid $50 each we would raise $11,500 easily covering our cost. If there were 100 technical committee members who paid $80 each, and 50 non-technical committee members who paid $40 each, we would raise $10,000. Etc.

Remember that if we do as Kancho asks, we are at least 12 dojos or branches: 6 in the US, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, and 4 (or more) in Canada. Some BC’s have more than one dojo. If 12 branches have 5 technical committee members, that’s 60, and even if we only had 60 in attendance at Kancho’s seminar, we could raise our $10,000 with only $166 each. Double this number and it would be $83 each.

Some can’t afford this cost? We will certainly invite members to make contributions to help cover the cost of those who can not afford to travel. Some in my branch, I know, would pay $250 each so that folks from Puerto Rica or California who are traveling the furthest would have an easier time. The point is that if we are unified, and if we work together, we can make this happen.

A date should be established by which time fees will be due, and that date will be plenty in advance of the seminar date. Unless anyone is rich enough to front the cost, we can not afford to collect fees at the time of the seminar.

Visiting Teams   

Sensei Miguel Rios of NJ wants to form a team and participate even though he is not Kyokushin-kan. Kancho’s philosophy is an open one, and Miguel has attended one of Kancho’s seminars in Japan. My recommendation would be “why not?” His five members will reduce our cost and maybe we’ll get new members out of it. Likewise, if you guys know anyone responsible outside of Kyokushin-Kan who would be dedicated to the weekly training and who would pay to participate in a seminar with Kancho, why not? Please invite them. If this shocks anyone, it really shouldn’t. Kancho just organized this month’s world tournament and included/invited everyone. Kancho’s philosophy is that open doors and collaboration is the future of Kyokushin. Kancho does not feel his leadership threatened by opening the doors to members of other organizations. On the contrary he feels like if he does, Kyokushin-Kan will gain influence.

The current sate of our Tech Committee before last weekend. We haven’t updated this chart for about a month. Sensei Campora, Sensei Callhan, and myself have all had minor changes to our team compositions:







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