Kyokushin-Kan Technical — 09 April 2013

Sensei Sun Li, successor to Ikken Master Sawai Kenichi, teaches each year at Kyokushin-kan Internatinal Instructor’s Seminars.

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.

Ikken is a parallel, Chinese martial art heavily stressed by Kancho Royama and other instructors during Kyokushin-kan’s seminars. At its foundation is the training of ki energy. Westerners who’ve never seen Ikken might think it similar to Tai Chi, although it is very self-defense oriented (one might say combat-oriented) in that the goal is to learn destructive (and therefore defensive) physical power that transcends the normal sources that we tend to think of when looking for power (i.e. our muscular system).

Kancho Royama points out that, in a sense, real karate training doesn’t even begin until the age of 50. Prior to that time, we have such easy command of our body that practitioners tend to look there for power, because that’s where power is easy to find. As we get older, however, and begin to lose the ease with which we tap into muscle/bone sources of strength, we have no choice but to begin to look for alternate sources. It’s then, Kancho points out, that the serious practitioner begins to become aware of ki energy and how it can be used to supplement muscular power. Of course, we can practice ikken, and thus become aware of our ki energy prior to the age of 50, but Kancho’s point is that that’s where it becomes easier to find, because the 50-year-old budo karateka has no choice but to look for it.

At a glance, one might think that Kancho Royama is intoducing Ikken training to Kyokushin (and therefore altering Kyokushin) but the more accurate assessment is that Ikken was one of the arts assimilated into Kyokushin by Mas Oyama in the very beginning. It was part of the original Kyokushin synthesis. It has always been a part of Kyokushin, and, if anything, its practice was lost among Kyokushin karateka during the years that Kyokushin’s popularity boomed. Kancho Royama had extensive practice with Ikken Master Sawai Kenichi, and Sawai Sensei’s successor, Sun Li Sensei, pictured above, teaches at each of our Kyokushin-kan seminars. We all know that our vice-chairman Shihan Hiroshige became renowned in Japan for making champions. Midori, Yamaki, Kazumi . . . all were Hiroshige Shihan’s students and they all practiced Ikken. Kancho Royama practiced Ikken extensively before his first All-Japan Tournament win.

Iwata Shibucho, a former uchi deshi of Kancho Royama, practicing Ikken at the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan in 2003 the morning before his first-place win in an Asian Open tournament.

Iwata Shibucho, a former uchi deshi of Kancho Royama, practicing Ikken at the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan in 2003 the morning before his first-place win in an Asian Open tournament.

My own first exposure was in 2003 when I traveled with Kancho and the Japanese team for a seminar and tournament held in Kazakhstan. In this photo Iwata Shibucho (a former uchi deshi of Kancho Royama) is practicing “hai”, an ikken exercise, on the coast of the Caspian Sea the morning before the tournament, where he took first place. I was particularly impressed by his short-distance destructive techniques. He dropped more than one of his opponents with very-close (maybe just 4-inch distant) shita-tsukis to the diaphragm. Here Kancho Royama can be seen practicing the same exercise, and in the last photo that’s me with Kancho practicing another.01100018

Please stay tuned for part two of this article on Ikken. In the next segment, I’ll write about the training method by which this kind of power can be found, albeit as best I can, since my own exposure is limited.


(6) Readers Comments

  1. Osu, sensei.

    It would also be interesting to note that Hajime Kazumi was a good exponent of Ikken under fighting situations. Even in his own Kazumi Karate, it would seem that Ikken is incorporated in his curriculum.

    I was blessed to have learned (at least some of Ikken training) under my former Sensei, Kiyotaka Sakurai Sensei, Shibucho of Kyokushinkan Philippines, whenever he was in the country. Ikken is a practice that is essential to the training of Karate.

  2. Osu Ligo Sensei: Besides going to Japan, which I’m planning to attend in the next Instructors Camp in March 2014, is there any thinking of teaching IKKEN here in the USA? Seminars perhaps? Thanks, Osu!

  3. Sensei, my finances are very tight now. Amazingly so. But I would love to visit your dojo if you could bring me, and if you could arrange a training. Of course, another time, I might drive. Now it’s just really hard. Would love to do a seminar at your dojo someday.

  4. Ligo Sensei, thank you for the good article. Your good work for kyokushin karate development is appreciated. I have also been exposed to Ikken training in Kancho’s seminars in Japan. I have had few classes under Sun Li sensei in So-Honbu.

    The last time I met you was in Sofia; I noticed you even were training Ikken when we, Judges, were preparing for parade.

    Since 2008, I have had regular Ikken training with my students here in Afghanistan. Thanks to Kyokushin-kan for the regular Japan seminars.

    I enjoyed reading your article about this important component of Karat training, Ikken.


  5. osu,I was lucky to attend the kazumi seminar in scotland and asked what’s the difference between taikiken and ikken/yiquan. Basically its the same he told me. But where kenichi sawai place a lot of emphasis that there is ki in taikiken I read a book about Yiquan founder Wang Xiangzhai there they don’t use any chi in yiquan but more on something like jing.
    Is this the same or different?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *