Spain, 2020 December 22nd,
Dear KWF members, Shihans, Senseis, Senpais and all other Kyokushin friends,
This is the third time I am addressing you this year. We are about to close a remarkable year. A year in which we and our lives proved to be more vulnerable than we thought. A year in which we came across something that did not care who or what we are. Also, a year in which we were confronted with our responsibility for the health of the people around us.
We have been put to the test over the past year, in our friendships and in the way we had to give Kyokushin a place in our lives. We had to make choices, to do things differently. We had to be careful with our friends and family because it turned out that careless behavior could also be a danger to those around us.
We learned to deal with restrictions as they were imposed, and we found different ways to teach our students and give substance to our friendship. Kyokushin friendships are characterized by the fact that they are generally at a distance. They deepen every time we meet again, at a championships or seminar anywhere in the world.
But since the COVID crisis, we must miss this reunion. And yet, we managed to stay in touch and give substance to these friendships in an alternative way. Supported by mail, Zoom, Teams and YouTube, we stayed in full-contact! We gave Kyokushin lessons via the internet and so we stayed in touch with our students. It proves once again that Kyokushin connects people, no matter what.
Loss was an important theme in 2020: loss of freedom, loss of jobs and some of us have lost loved ones. As KWF, we said goodbye to Shihan Hollander and Shihan Tanaka. During these holidays, we will cherish their memory.
The year 2020 also brought good things. Many of us have become more aware of the value of things we always took for granted. We started to train more intensively ourselves. Next to physical growth we also started to look for more mental growth. In short, despite of this setback we have become stronger, in Kyokushin and certainly also as human beings. Many of us have mirrored the life of Sosai Oyama and his solitary training in the mountains.
Sosai has always been in search of harmony between society and the traditional art of bushido. He was a modest man who respected the traditions and values of both systems.
In his period of self-isolation, he discovered that his role in this world was more than being the best karate master. He understood he had to do better than just that. His focus in training was to get perfect balance and unity in physical supremacy, modesty and wisdom. This is the untold truth in superior Kyokushin Spirit. By being an example to the world, Sosai was blessed.
“Keep your head low, eyes high, mouth shut; base yourself on filial piety and benefit others”
Sosai Masutatsu Oyama
Sosai understood that being a great man did not depend on a lot of attention, a high position and worldly wealth. He preferred to be modest and humble because he realized this made him more effective as a human being.
The Covid pandemic forces us into a similar situation of self-isolation. I fully understand that it can be difficult not to be in the spotlights, the lack of attention being away from the public and not able to attend championships. Especially in those moments we have to persevere in training and mediation just like Sosai did. This is the only way to understand the true meaning of Kyokushin Spirit.
We are almost at the beginning of a new year: 2021. A year in which the expectation is that slowly the world will open again. Let us continue to focus on the things that have been so important in our lives over the past year. We are entering a new year full of challenges. I express the hope that we will focus on what unites us and that we will find the energy to overcome divisions. After all, the past year has shown once again that together we stand stronger.
Let us focus on a future in which we must deal sensibly with the freedoms that we are slowly regaining. Let us make plans, for each other and with each other. Let us make plans for our Kyokushin for the new year in which, hopefully, we will meet again regularly. I look forward to it.
I appreciate your effort in Kyokushin last year and I am proud of the good work you all did in your countries and dojo’s. I look forward to working with you in the next year and meeting you soon in good health.
I wish you all happy holidays and a new year full of prosperity, health and happiness.