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Kyokushinkai Karate is characterized by requiring its participants to undertake strenuous training, conditioning and realistic contact while sparring. Kyokushin karateka believe this contact is necessary in order to fully appreciate the resiliency of the human body and spirit and to prepare for any serious confrontation. The style was founded by Oyama Masatatsu (d.1994), a naturalised Japanese of Korean origin who attained expertise in Okinawan, Japanese, Korean and Chinese martial arts and was a renowned karate tournament champion. Fitness is essential for the ability to perform under the pressure of combat and is emphasised in aerobic and anaerobic training. Strength training, makiwara and heavy bag work are utilised to develop power and realistic application of technique. Partner-training and sparring involve conditioning the body parts involved in offense and defense. This is done through use of medium to heavy contact in application of techniques. The style is famed for strong kicking techniques, especially the devastating low roundhouse kick to the thigh. However, there are safety measures to prevent excessive injury in regular sparring: use of mouthguards, gloves, shin protectors is permitted and hand techniques to the head are forbidden. Kata from diverse styles have been incorporated, based upon the founder's expertise in Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Korean and Chinese martial arts. Tournaments involve kata and sparring competition. Generally, the full contact sparring tournaments are most popular, with the concession of mouthguard and groin protector only, and points scored only for knockdowns or knockouts.


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