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"Masutatsu Oyama compared me to his new Bismarck"

Ingo Freier
The legendary Shihan introduced the Germans to Kyokushin karate over 50 years ago. He was a disciple of the greatest Jon Bluming. In the interview to our channel he told about his long and interesting life path in search of the absolute truth.
Shihan, this year marks 52 years since you opened the first dojo in Germany. Congratulations on this momentous event. How did your journey to martial arts begin?
— My journey started with the famous "Black Belt" magazine. There was a picture of Sosai Oyama and his karate style. It had immediately appealed to me and I just had to learn this fighting style! It all started in Holland in Amsterdam. In the dojo of Sensei Bluming I met other martial arts greats such as Jan Kallenbach and Kenji Kurosaki.
I knew immediately that I had to do this. Alone I went to Holland almost every month and trained there. After all, I even lived there for a few months. After some time I got black belt under Jon Bluming.
Since then I disseminated the Kyokushin karate style in Germany.
Jan Kallenbach and Kenji Kurosaki
What influence did the legendary master Mas Oyama have on your choice? How do you remember him?
— When I first saw that, I was taken with his charisma. He was a very pleasant person, his appearance was authentic and at the same time friendly.
With him I connected the system as we know it today. He also wrote in his books that he was a big fan of Bismarck. When we saw each other a couple of times in Japan, he always greeted me first. "Oh, Ingo Freier my friend from Germany!". He liked my straightforwardness and even compared me to his new Bismarck. (laugh)
Last year, one of Mas Oyama's best students, the legend of Kyokushin karate, Jon Bluming, passed away. You had the privilege of practicing at his dojo in Amsterdam. Tell us how it was.
— Jon Bluming was a phenomenon. His appearance was always friendly, very helpful and his skills as a martial artist were unique! In Holland, at the time, everyone was physically taller than me, yet they always treated me fairly and respectfully.
The dojo was in the famous Valkenburger Strasse. It was a very small dojo, but had a memorable atmosphere. The motto was there: learning to do. I was the youngest karateka in his dojo and at the same time one of the few "foreigners" as a German.
Jon Bluming
Traditional karate associations have rejected Kyokushin karate for its rigidity and cruelty. How did the old school overcome this obstacle?
— Personally, I can only tell from Germany from my perspective. For the Shotokan Karate Association, the Kyokushin style was NOT karate. He was too "extreme" and "brutal".
There were countless obstacles and problems to overcome in order to be tolerated and accepted by the established karate associations and in public.
We participated in a general and open karate tournament and demonstrated the strength of our "new" karate style. Our fighters defeated Shotokan in almost all categories - in their rules.
The German Dan Quorum even took me into association, though in no importance to it. In retrospect, perhaps I should have striven more for cooperation, but my whole focus was on disseminating the Kyokushin Karate style.
— You managed to practice with Kenji Kurosaki, Tadashi Nakamura, Shigeru Oyama. Tell about them. What do you remember?
— It was the legendary summer camp in Papendal (Holland). More than 250 students participated in this camp. At this camp, Shigeru Oyama and Tadashi Nakamura were the Japanese instructors.
One day both were very dissatisfied with the performance of the black belts. They took a shinai (bamboo sword) and all participants had to set up in Sanchin position. Then they hit the participants several times with the Shinai! I was shocked but held on. Some participants even bleed or ran away! That was the hard "Japanese" school, if you did something wrong. But you have to pay attention to the time. It was "normal". (laugh)
What many did not know was that Sensei Kurosaki was a passionate smoker. At a seminar in Leiden (Holland), he smoked several cigarettes before each training session and then went into training and made 1000 Mawashi Geris, 1000 Mae Keages without any problems. One day he had a fight in Holland against 2 Koreans who practiced taekwondo. It was the only time I saw him, that he had to work hard in a fight.
Shigeru Oyama was called the "bouncer." He was really a tough Kyokushin karateka. His fighting skills were extremely good and his teaching methods are still considered legendary today.
After the death of Mas Oyama, the world of Kyokushin split. How did you manage to survive this painful experience?
— In Germany went on after the death of Sosai first further. The only thing I knew was that I did not want to be under Kancho Matsui. So we joined Shihan Kenji Midori. Unfortunately, the Shinkyokushin kanji, which never happened to me personally, was introduced. I love the real Kyokushin Kanji and that was the reason why I left my own founded organization (DKO = German Kyokushin Organization).
I was aware that the old system with a Branch Chief was out of date. So I joined the All Japan Union. The meaning at the time was to have a committee that should vote democratically if something was to be organized.
Unfortunately, it did not work with this organization. Democracy does not work in the Kyokushin system. (laugh) A leader a word. So we know and love the system of Sosai Oyama.
You are a veteran authentic learning approach. Also, you bring new ideas to the martial art. What is Kyokushin Karate in Germany now?
— Unlike in other European countries and countries from the former Eastern Bloc, we Germans have no professional structures here in Germany. We do not receive state funding and are not perceived as a karate style as we wish.
Organizational and combative, we currently have in the Kyokushin karate world the disadvantage. Unfortunately.
What is required of a person who wants to understand the martial art? What should he be ready for?
— What is martial arts? If we really want to answer that question, then China has to look back on 2000 years. There are the origins of martial arts. There is also the essence of martial arts until it was brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi from Okinawa. Karate as we know it today is in general sports. But the real goals of karate are the unification of body, mind and spirit. As an example, I always mention the Sanchin Kata. The development of the three stages. It was one of the first katas that Bodhidharma (Daruma) developed in the Shaolin Monastery.
You dedicate yourself to Kyokushin karate throughout life. What advice would you give to people at the beginning of this journey?
— For me, humans are different. If you want to make the Kyokushin Karate a lifetime, you should pay attention to one thing: there is not just the athletic competition. Many Kyokushin Karate people who once had great success in the competition have stopped: Hajime Kazumi, Kenji Yamaki, Tadashi Nakamura or many of my generation have dedicated themselves to different styles.
You have to face reality and realize that karate is more than just sport and that you can develop your karate skills into old age. So after the "professional career" is not final as a referee ;-)
One can and may also devote to martial arts such as the Chi Gong, Kyusho or Dim Mak and the Ki-energy. Only those who understand this will develop as a person, because that was the point of karate.
Short questions:
What is the point of defeat?
Just one answer: The total knockout and no point victories!
Kyokushin taught me ...
Be always straight - Like Germans.
The best place on Earth?
Berlin (Germany), my homecity. Everybody is welcome to this beautiful city.
It seems to me that Kyokushin in 10 years ...
Will same stuck in sports competition.
We express our gratitude to Shihan for the opportunity to ask questions to the world Kyokushin legend. We wish him good health, long life. It is very important for us to preserve the best traditions of Kyokushin karate. OSU!
Photo: Courtesy of Ingo Freier