Kancho Royama vs. Snapshot Kyokushin
Oyama Dojo at Rikkyo University very close to where Mas Oyama’s Kyokushinkaikan Honbu Dojo was finally opened.
One of the great stumbling blocks to Kyokushin’s protection after the death of Mas Oyama has been instructors in leadership positions who had extremely valuable experiences training with Mas Oyama (or with great students of Mas Oyama), but who mistakenly decide that what they witnessed during that one single “snapshot” experience was all that Kyokushin was (and all that Mas Oyama taught) for all time. Of course ANY training experience with Mas Oyama is extremely valuable, and it is the duty of all of us to defend what we learned from him personally. To assume that Kyokushin can be defined by any single “snapshot view” however, can lead to incorrect assumptions that few in the world are in a position to repair.
Please note the diagram below in which the vertical lines represents some possible examples of Mas Oyama’s students and their lineages. The student-line drawn in red, for example, represents a student to trained with Mas Oyama for the entirety of the 1960’s, whereas the one drawn in brown trained with Mas Oyama for a few years during the 1960’s. Both of these particular early students of Mas Oyama went on to have their own students, who went on to have their own students. The student drawn in green never trained directly with Mas Oyama, but he/she trained for all of the 1970’s under a direct student of Mas Oyama. The student drawn in sky blue holds a 3rd generation spot, in that he/she trained under a teacher, who trained under Mas Oyama during the 1960’s.
Likewise, the student drawn in purple is 4 degrees of separation from having had direct contact with Mas Oyama. The student drawn in dark blue was a personal student of Mas Oyama, but he/she trained with Mas Oyama during the 1980’s, rather than during the ’60’s. Of course there could be many thousands of variations. Many Kyokushin students around the world might have trained with Mas Oyama on only one occasion. Others would have trained with Mas Oyama for years on end. But let’s look at the Royama Kancho line, the one we’ve drawn here in gold. Kancho Royama is one of the few students of Mas Oyama who was with him from the very beginning (Oyama Dojo before the founding of the Kyokushinkaikan) and all the way until he died. Goda Shihan might be the only other living example.
Kancho Royama poses in front of the outdoor mural that was later on an inside wall at Sosai’s Honbu Dojo after the building was extended.
Now, let’s look at the updated image below in which circles have been added to represent certain exposures students of Mas Oyama may have had beyond simply training with Mas Oyama. One student represented by the green line now surrounded by a small green circle might have been located in a geographical location separate from the heart of things (a foreign country for example), whereas a different “green-line student” (represented by the blue oval stretching all the way left to right) might have been in Japan working closely with Mas Oyama to witness that place where all of Kyokushin international exchange occurs. He/she might have been there to witness the evolution of Kyokushin at its core, i.e. as opposed to the other who might have had the same teacher, but who was more distant either geographically or politically. Assuming they both had the same quality of learning and instruction, the latter is still better positioned to grasp the full scope of Kyokushin, at least as it was during the 1970′s, because that instructor with the closer view of Kyokushin’s evolution also has a CLEARER view of what Kyokushin is, was, and is meant to be.
Now apply that line of thought to Kancho Royama. Note the large yellow oval that represents the breadth and width (and depth!) of Kancho Royama’s experience. Not only was he a student of Mas Oyama for 30 years, but he was also positioned, right at the heart of things, first as a student at Oyama Dojo, later as a competitor in the first world tournaments and as an instructor at Mas Oyama’s Honbu Dojo, then as one of Sosai’s Branch Chiefs with seniority over all the others. Compare that experience to that of the student represented by the tiny white circle (on the dotted line) who trained with Mas Oyama a few times (or for a very short time) during the 1980′s. One of the great stumbling blocks of Kyokushin’s protection after the death of Mas Oyama has been instructors in leadership positions who had extremely valuable experiences like this one with Mas Oyama, but who mistakenly decide that what they witnessed during that one single “snapshot” was all that Mas Oyama was (and all that he taught) for all time.
Of course that experience is valuable, and of course it is the duty of those instructors to remember and teach even the tiniest aspect of what Mas Oyama taught them way back then. But, in the same light, it is also a mistake to decided that that’s all Kyokushin is meant to be. Kancho Royama tells stories about Sosai teaching a kata at Honbu, then going overseas for several months, and then coming home to ask angrily “Who taught you that way?”, having completely changed his mind about how the kata should be taught. There is no question that when you consider how Sosai was teaching in the 1990′s that it was dramatically different than how he was teaching in the 1960′s. Yet, who is to say which “snapshot” is more valuable? Which one is correct? The truth, of course, if that they’re both correct, but how much better it would be to have had BOTH experiences! How much better it would have been to have shared in nearly all of them!
We could stop our discussion with the bold yellow Kancho Royama line, and with the large gold oval because Kancho Royama witnessed the heart of all that happened at the core of Kyokushin for the entirety of Sosai’s life. We might stop our discussion by pointing out that there simply aren’t any others, no other student of Mas Oyama’s (except maybe Goda Shihan) who was with him consistently from so early, and all the way up until the end. But that’s not really the true extent of it:
Not only was Kancho Royama struggling to support Matsui Kancho for ten years following Sosai’s death (because Sosai asked him to do his best to do so), but he has also now had ten years leadership experience at the helm of Kyokushin-kan, but even that’s not all! Look at the 1, 2, 3 and 4 numbered branches in the above diagram (the one with the circles) that represent the experiences that Mas Oyama had before he created Kyokushin at Oyama Dojo. One example is Mas Oyama’s learning Taikiken from Sawai Sensei. It’s part of what he incorporated into the Kyokushin synthasis. Well, again, we add to Kancho Royama’s experience, because he, too, had the chance to learn from Sawai Sensei before Sawai Sensei died. Kancho tells the story about how he was defeated by “giant” foreigners who came to visit Honbu and how he couldn’t imagine how he could ever beat them until he took some time of dedicated training with Sawai Sensei who taught him how powerful a person of small stature could be. Thus, to complete our chart, Kancho Royama’s experience can really be depicted not only by the gold oval, but rather by the entire circle that extends into realms before and after Sosai’s time. There is no other instructor in the Kyokushin world who has such experience.
Kancho Royama with Sawai Sensei.
We ask the the reader, here, look again at Kyokushin-kan’s mission, to defend, revitalize, and advance Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin. Initially, soon after Kyokushin-kan was founded, rival instructors with snapshop views of Kyokushin pointed their fingers at Kancho and said “but you’re CHANGING Kyokushin!” But those same competing instructors are now struggling to keep up with Kyokushin-kan, and they have now begun to see the error of their ways. Kancho Royama is NOT changing Kyokushin; he’s helping those of us with only snapshot views to see the full scope of it. He is, in fact, keeping it alive and vibrant. And there’s no one else alive today who can do it so well. In a recent seminar, our vice chairman Hiroshige Shihan pointed out that we should train with him (and Kancho Royama) as if we wouldn’t have very many chances left to do so. After all, he said, he is 67, Kancho is 66, and Sosai died at the early age of 70. This is no joke, and we should all take this point very seriously. For more on this subject please go on the read the attached article about Kancho’s succession.