What is the
Kyokushin's World Tournament?

by Tats Nakamura

The late master, Sosai Mas Oyama, stressed this Budo (martial arts) principle to his apprentices - "Keep our heads low, eyes high, reserved in speech, base ourselves on the philosophy of filial piety and benefit others." We, as his successors in the 21st century, hope to lay the moral groundwork for a true martial arts education that will garner support from people from all walks of life and promote our unique international fellowship that transcends racial, ethnic, religious, political, gender-centric, and ideological boundaries.

  Photo: Every four years, thousands of Kyokushin Fans fill up the Tokyo Gymnasium.

In 1975 Sosai Mas Oyama held the 1st World Tournament in Tokyo, Japan to materialize the Kyokushin principle. He succeeded. Since the first event, thousands of Kyokushin fighters on this planet have dreamed to be the world champion, but only seven chosen ones shined with laurels over the past thirty two years of the tournament history. The Open Karate World Tournament, which is held only once every four years, is the greatest challenge of the Kyokushin spirit.

Japan secures the Top Six Places!

On November 1 & 2, 1975, the 1st World Karate Tournament was held in Tokyo, Japan. The event marked a milestone achievement, as this was the first ever full contact world karate championship in the long history of the martial art. A total of one hundred and twenty-eight competitors flew from thirty-six different countries to prove themselves to be the best in this fierce competition. Among the contestants, there were Chinese Kung-Fu practitioners, Judo masters and Muay Thai kick boxers, which were all beaten by Kyokushin fighters. Japanese competitors, who were directly trained by Sosai Mas Oyama, claimed a sweeping victory by taking the top six spots. Katsuaki Sato succeeded in leaving his name for the karate history as the first champion of the world.


Japan' Nakamura grabs the Title! 

Four years past quickly after the enormous success of the first event. The tournament obviously gave an eye-popping experience to fighters around the world and made them realize what kind of karate organization they belonged to. On November 23, 1979, the 2nd World Tournament was held in Tokyo gathering one hundred and forty-six fighters from forty-six countries. The three-day event attracted more than twenty thousand karate fans in total and was televised nationwide. Unlike the first time, Japanese fighters had difficulty defeating foreigners. The strongest team outside Japan was United States, which was directed by Shihan Shigeru Oyama (Currently the director of the USA Oyama Karate). The American team had studied Japanese techniques thoroughly since the first tournament. The rapid progress of Team USA was proved when Willie Williams came up and took fourth place. However, Japanese team narrowly managed to protect the world title when Makoto Nakamura placed 1st and won the championship.

The World Catching Up To Japan!

By the time the 3rd World Tournament was held on January 1984, the power of the American team weakened while European fighters became more influential on the Kyokushin world map. Michael Thompson from England gave a tough match to Makoto Nakamura. The battle went into a staggering fifth extension round in which Japan's "battleship" captured a victory by a very close margin. A 21-year-old "genius", Shokei Matsui, made a sensational debut with beautiful leg techniques and placed 3rd after beating Brazil's Ademir Da Costa. Michel Wadel from Holland and Andy Hug of Switzerland also displayed powerful performances and left great impressions on thousands of Kyokushin fans in Japan. Makoto Nakamura accomplished a monumental task by reclaiming the championship of the world by defeating his old enemy, Keiji Sanpei in the finals.

Shokei Matsui Defends the Title!

The 4th World Tournament on November 1987 turned out to be a war. The storm of the European teams, which showed their potential four years ago, raged through the event. The strongest among them was the "iron" Andy Hug. Spectators filled up in Tokyo's Budo Kan were fascinated by the lightening leg techniques including Axe Kick performed by this fighter from Switzerland. It became more apparent as the event proceeded that the only Japanese fighter who could possibly stop Andy was Shokei Matsui. The meeting between the two at the final match was as though destined. When perfected skills by the two masters interacted on the fighting mat, the audience was awed and realized that Karate was indeed a form of combat at the state of an Art. A total of seven minutes of the spectacular battle came to an end when Shokei Matsui was crowned with the title of World Champion.

The First Ever Lightweight Champion is Born.

Sosai Mas Oyama used to preach that the essence of Martial Arts lies within the theory that a small person could defeat a larger opponent. One cannot select the size of his or her opponent in real life situations. One of the prominent reasons why the World Tournament is an open weight event is because Sosai was very particular about Kyokushin tournaments being held as Budo, not as sport events. The 5th World Tournament in 1991 brought concrete proof of Sosai's theory by creating the smallest world champion, Kenji Midori. The Japanese fighter was only160 pounds and 5'2" tall but his speed was unparalleled. While big names like Andy Hug and Michael Thompson were kicked out of the mat in early rounds, Kenji Midori advanced and attacked much bigger opponents. The audience was thrilled and burst into magnificent applause when this brave "falcon" came through tough matches and finally captured the champion of the world. The "giant" Jean Riviere from Montreal defeated some renowned Japanese fighters and placed 4th, which is the highest record that Team Canada holds as of 2006.

Brazil Becomes A Massive Threat.

Karate originated in Japan, and the Japanese feel that karate extends from Japan to the rest of the world. Thus, maintaining the world title for the "Karate Motherland" is critical to them. In the 6th World Tournament in 1995, the sudden appearance of Fransico Filho from Brazil threatened the Japan's pride and confidence. He possessed all the qualities of a champion; endurance, speed, strength, techniques, physique and spirit. Without sweating too much, the Brazilian kept on going and defeated world-class competitors. On the final day of the event, everyone in the gym was prepared to witness a rewrite of history and the first non-Japanese world champion. However, the ambition of the Brazilian team was to break into pieces at the semi finals by Kazumi Hajime from Japan. Kazumi's will power pushed his limits and brought two valuable victories out of incredibly tough matches against Filho and another Brazilian, Glaube Feitoza. Kenji Yamaki, another tournament favorite, succeeded in beating Kazumi in the finals. Team Japan managed to keep the title within the country. Jason Schattenkirk from Surrey, Canada, rose up to the top 32 fighters. He became the first competitor from the western Canada region to advance to the final day of the event.

Fransisco Filho Becomes the First Non-Japanese Champion!

By the time the 7th World Tournament was held in 1999, Brazil had come to the centre of the world's focus. The "towering inferno" Glaube Feitoza vigorously confronted the Japanese fighters and advanced to the semi finals. However, Japan's "final weapon", Kazumi Hajime, again shot down the Brazilians' dream to climb up to the top of the world. Kazumi's devastating low kick frequently caught Glaube's long legs, lifting up the Japanese to the final match against Fransisco Filho. The showdown between the two finalists turned out to be a masterpiece of Kyokushin fighting. As if great samurai warriors challenged one another in sword fighting, a strained tension was felt throughout the whole match. The audience was completely absorbed in the bout and kept at the edge of their seats. Then, they witnessed the historical incident at the last moment when the centre referee, Shihan Isobe, called out loud Fransisco Filho to be the winner. It was a moment when the world championship title came out of Japan for the first time in twenty-four years.

Russia, Brazil and Japan: A Three-Sided Contestant is On!

Can the Karate Motherland regain the title? The most recent 8th World Tournament was held in 2003 and focused on this single point. Most of the Kyokushin fans and media were, however, skeptical about the possibility, not only because the reigning champion, Barzil, had grown another world-class fighter, Everton Teixeira, but also because there was another rising nation that would give Japan a hard time. It was Russia, the country in which Karate was banned during the Cold War era but broke out loose in the 90's after the collapse of socialism and made a rapid progress to catch up to the rest of the world. The tournament turned out to be a three-sided contestant between these powerhouses; Japan, Brazil and Russia. Both Galube Feitoza and Everton Teixeira from Brazil climbed up to the semi finals by defeating Japan's Atsushi Kadoi and Hiroyuki Kidachi respectively. The superb Russian Lechi Kurbanov beat the strong Masafumi Tagahara of Japan and came to top 8. However, Japan's hope was alive. It was Hitoshi Kiyama that strove to maintain the country's dignity. Fully utilizing his perfect defense and counter techniques, the spirited Japanese incredibly stopped all these tough fighters including Sergey Plechanov from Russia at the finals. Team Japan succeeded in recapturing the title since the last World Tournament.


Japan sinks. Euro rises. Brazil captures the world again!
The history of the European Kyokushin Karate goes back to 1960 and produced many renowned contenders such as Howard Collins, Andy Hug and Michael Thompson. The spirit of those legendary karate-kas throbbed ceaselessly through the countries in the region for years, and finally came to the surface as tangible energy for them to rise in 2007. Jan Soukup from Czech Republic and Artur Hovhannisian from Armenia made their way up to top 4 spots while Spain's Alejandro Navarro secured 6th place. The euro-fighters brought the greatest success to the region since the 4th World Tournament in 1987. However, the powerful momentum from Europe was blown away by the storm from Brazil, Everton Teixeira. Up to the quarter finals, this 2003 Bronze Medalist lived up to his reputation by beating all his opponents without going through extension rounds. The Karate Motherland, Team Japan, struggled to grasp a win and ended up having only one fighter in the top eight. On the final day, Teixeira continued to pile up clear victories and became the second non-Japanese World Champion after his sempai, Francisco Filho. With inexhaustible stamina and spirit within his strong body and lightening punches accelerating like a F1 car, the humble Brazilian cornered his prey like a vicious lion and won the world title.


Tokyo, Japan - November 4,5,6 2011 >> Who's Next?

The Budo principle stressed by Sosai Mas Oyama will be passed on from generation to generation by Kyokushin practitioners around the world through this grand-scale tournament. It brings hundreds of officials, coaches and fighters from every corner of the earth together to strengthen cultural exchanges and international amity. 2011 is the year for the 10th World Karate Tournament and history shall be made in the name of Kyokushin!



1st World Karate Tournament
November 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 1975
128 competitors from 36 Countries
1. Katsuaki Sato JAPAN
2. Hatsuo Royama JAPAN
3. Joko Nimoniya JAPAN
4. Daigo Oishi JAPAN
5. Toshikazu Sato JAPAN
6. Takashi Azuma JAPAN
7. Charles W. Martin USA
8. Frank Clark USA
2nd World Karate Tournament
November 23rd, 24th & 25th, 1979
146 competitors from 46 Countries 1. Makoto Nakamura JAPAN
2. Keiji Sanpei JAPAN
3. Willie Williams USA
4. Takashi Azuma JAPAN
5. Howard Collins GT BRITAIN
6. Bernard Creton GT BRITAIN
8. Koichi Kawabata JAPAN
3rd World Karate Tournament
January 20th, 21st & 22nd 1984
192 Competitors from 60 countries
1. Makoto Nakamura JAPAN
2. Keiji Sanpei JAPAN
3. Akiyoshi Matsui JAPAN
4. Ademir Da Costa BRAZIL
5. Yasuto Onishi JAPAN
6. Nicholas Da Costa GT BRITAIN
7. Keizo Tahara JAPAN
8. Dave Greaves GT BRITAI
4th World Karate Tournament
November 6th, 7th & 8th 1987
207 competitors from 77 countries
1. Akiyoshi Matsui JAPAN
3. Akira Masuda JAPAN
4. Michael Thompson GT BRITAIN
5. Ademir Da Costa BRAZIL
6. Hiroki Kurosawa JAPAN
7. Yasuhiro Shichinohe JAPAN
8. Nicholas Da Costa GT BRITAIN
5th World Karate Tournament
November 2nd, 3rd & 4th 1991
250 competitors from 112 countries
1. Kenji Midori JAPAN
2. Akira Masuda JAPAN
3. Hiroki Kurosawa JAPAN
4. Jean Riviere CANADA
5. Kenji Yamaki JAPAN
6. Yutaka Ishii JAPAN
7. Yasuhiro Shichinohe JAPAN
8. Johnny Kleyn HOLLAND
6th World Karate Tournament
November 3rd, 4th & 5th, 1995,
168 competitors from 85 Countries
1. Kenji Yamaki JAPAN
2. Hajime Kazumi JAPAN
3. Francisco Filho BRAZIL
4. Garry O'Neill AUSTRALIA
5. Nicholas Pettas DENMARK
6. Hiroki Kurosawa JAPAN
7. Luciano Basile BRAZIL
8. Glaube Feitosa BRAZIL
7th World Karate Tournament
November 5th, 6th & 7th, 1999
192 competitors from 86 Countries
1. Francisco Filho BRAZIL
2. Hajime Kazumi JAPAN
3. Alexander Pichkunov RUSSIA
4. Glaube Feitosa BRAZIL
5. Nicholas Pettas DENMARK
6. Yasuhiro Kimura JAPAN
7. Ryuta Noji JAPAN
8. Ryu Narushima JAPAN
8th World Karate Tournament
November 1st, 2nd & 3rd, 2003
240 competitors from 63 Countries
1. Hitoshi Kiyama JAPAN
2. Sergey Plekhanov RUSSIA
3. Ewerton Teixeira BRAZIL
4. Glaube Feitosa BRAZIL
5. Lechi Kurbanov RUSSIA
6. Yasuhiro Kimura JAPAN
7. Sergey Osipov RUSSIA
8. Hiroyuki Kidachi JAPAN
9th World Karate Tournament
November 16th, 17th & 18th, 2007
192 competitors from 63 Countries
1: Ewerton Teixeira, BRAZIL
3: Artur Hovhannisian, ARMENIA
4: Darmen Sadvokasov, RUSSIA
5: Andrey Stepin, RUSSIA
6: Alejandro Navarro, SPAIN
7: Eduardo Tanaka, BRAZIL
8: Tatsuya Murata, JAPAN



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