The development of Karate is no exception. The more traditional Karate styles such as Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Go Ju Ryu and even Kyokushin Karate now exist alongside newer less traditional styles such as Enshin, Seido and Ashihara Karate among others.
Personally, my viewpoint on Karate is quite simple. While many practitioners see Karate as being tied to religion due to its early practitioners often in fact operated out of temples, I see this as being erroneous. Rather I see Karate, while often being bound to older traditions and systems, such as seen in Japan, as encapsulated in the phrase “Karate is a form of sporting activity”.
As a teacher, I still have in the history, and in the methods and systems in Karate. However, I personally see the sports development as being a priority over these traditions, cultures and hierarchical systems.
This is not to say that this also applies aspects such oriental culture. By contrast, it is my opinion that over-adherence to this can often be counterproductive in the long run.
Ashihara Karate is a fairly new form of Karate and could be described as an innovation or evolution of an older system. The widely accepted assumption that Kyokushin Karate provides the basis for the Ashihara style is incorrect. As explained earlier it is seen as a “spin off” of Kyokushin, but this is not accurate. The only association is the fact that Hideyuki Ashihara was himself a Kyokushin Karateka, but in no way is this reflected in the style that he presented in the 70s.
Within his Ashihara Organisation, it was precisely the aforementioned cultural and hierarchical structures which caused difficulty within countries outside of Japan. Management within the organization seemed more motivated with the fee structure of the organization rather than providing supports and “backup” to affiliated dojos outside of Japan. It was precisely these problems which led to me joining with David Cook in 1988 into his European Organisation which in time grew into a World Body. On the Greek island of Thassos a gathering of instructors saw the birth of the Ashihara International Karate Organisation system, with its own new identity.
Slowly I got involved in leading the AIKO and became one of the leading instructors in our system. AIKO joined in 1994 with the International Budokai under Jon Bluming and for a couple of years this cooperation was successful. For several reasons both organisations split and each went their own way.
This led to a newer era where I became more heavily involved as a K1 Kickboxing coach. This saw a very successful and indeed record breaking spell on the Kickboxing circuit. Slowly however my interests in building our own unique Karate and fighting style returned.
In the interim, and in the decades between this, Ashihara International Karate has experienced is ups and downs, and its own fair share of successes and failures. All of this has now led to a new era, where the AIKO as a body of experienced and newer instructors will aim to deliver a new generation in Ashihara Karate.
Since late last year, we have decided to translate these experiences and approaches to the development of the Ashihara International Karate Organisation. In order to do this we have developed a “fresh start” approach, with a re-design and simplification of many technical approaches within which we will focus on effectiveness in both technical training as well as having a competition orientated approach.
Dave Jonkers Shihan 2016