Calligraphy, kanku in the norwegian syllabus; “This interpretation of the symbolism is based on Mas. Oyamas own statements.”:
(Kalligraf, kanku i norsk syllabus; “Denne tolkningen av symbolikken er basert på Mas. Oyamas egne utsagn.”: )
THE SYMBOLS OF KYOKUSHIN KARATE
THE CALLIGRAPHY & THE KANKU
The philosophy of MASUTATSU OYAMA (1923- 1994) and his extreme interest for all styles of
martial arts resulted in his own style KYOKUSHIN karate established in 1964.
After 30 years of hard training learning from the best teachers in martial art (Chinese Kempo, Tao ,
Confucianism, Zen Buddhism and Shotokan karate) he started his own Honbu Dojo in Tokyo for the
new full contact karate style, rooted in the philosophy of mental and body unification ,
self-improvement, discipline and hard training.
At this time it is likely to believe that the introduction of the KANJI and KANKU were introduced.
Origin and design made by HARAMOTOKI, calligraphy master and friend of Mas. Oyama.
The calligraphy characters are old Chinese saying: “a group (of people) searching the ultimate
Mas.Oyama: Kyokushin-kai means association for the Search for Ultimate Truth.
What does it mean?
Wearing the Kanji on your Gi, you indicate your belonging to the group of karate-kas training
Kyokushin karate aiming for the unification of mind and body.
Mas .Oyama:-we seek the state of thoughtless liberation, the ultimate truth, that spells perfection
not only in karate techniques and mental balance and unification but in moral behavior as well.
I used 30 years of my life to reach this level.
Both the philosophy and the physical techniques of karate reflect signs of Zen Buddhist and
Confucianism influence. Values similar to those of the Japanese code of warrior (samurai ) are also
evident in the attitudes.
Combining the spiritually and technical elements shaped KYOKUSHINKAI karate , “unification of
mind and body.”
GICHIN FUNAKOSHI (1868-1957) Shotokan teacher , introduced Kanku Dai kata from a Chinese kata
named Kushanku ( viewing the sky ) based on the first movement in the kata. Mas. Oyama adopted
this into Kyokushin, named Kanku kata.
The spiritual KANKU symbolizes the need for contact with the Heavens practiced
An old historical and religious symbol from Zen Buddhism can be the start of the Kanku we know
today. Kushanku kata came to Okinawa in 1756, introduced by G.Funakoshi at the first public
demonstration of karate-do in Japan in 1922.
Zen monks during meditation put their hands together with contact between forefinger and
thumb, resulting in an opening, looking trough the opening and viewing the sky. This is the spiritual
part of the symbols of the Kanku. The center circle represents the opening between the hands
through which the sky is viewed, symbolizing the infinite depth of heavens.
Mas.Oyama : -as we and the Heavens exist in harmony, there will always be hope.
The KANKU also symbolizes the most important technical parts in Kyokushin
Sosai build up his unbeatable strength using his ultimate understanding of “TANDEN “(center of
Kanku) combined with speed and rotation of techniques (theory of circle and point, G Funakoshi)
Mas. Oyama: -the Tanden is the center of gravity for the body, the arms and legs move around it. “
We all know Leonardo da Vincis “Vitruvian Man in vector“ and its symbolic value.
Center indicates Tanden, energy center of man.
The center can also be “filled”, symbolizing the sun, like the sun in the Japanese flag,
“HINOMARU” –circle of the sun , energy center of the world .
The narrow parts represent arms and fingers.
The wide parts represent the wrists (leg) and imply strength and power.
The circle represents the rotation of techniques (circle and point).
You have it all in KANKU kata: breath control, looking trough the center (reminds you of tanden ),
mental unification and body strength, rotation of arms and legs for max power at the moment of
It is important to remember that Kyokushinkai represents the theory of circle and point, always
starting in TANDEN.
Kyokushin-A Way of Life.
Eilif Knappen, 5. Dan
BERGEN KARATE KLUBB, NKO Norway
Member of EKO, WKO SHINKYOKUSHINKAI.