Enshin kaikan

Last updated
Enshin kaikan logo.jpg
Country of origin Flag of the United States.svg United States
Creator Flag of Japan.svg Joko Ninomiya
Parenthood Ashihara Karate, Kyokushin Karate, Judo, Jujutsu
Official website enshin.com

Enshin kaikan (円心会館) is a style of "full contact karate", or Knockdown karate, founded in 1988 with dojo and students in various countries around the world. [1]



The core emphasis in Enshin is use of the Sabaki Method, a system of techniques employed with the goal of turning an opponent's power and momentum against him or her and repositioning oneself to the opponent's "blind" spot to counterattack from a more advantageous position. Although Enshin is a "stand-up fighting" style that includes kicks, strikes, and punches found in most other styles of karate, it also utilizes numerous grabs, sweeps, and throws often associated with Judo or other grappling styles of martial arts. [2]

Enshin was founded by Jōkō Ninomiya who directs the Enshin organization from the honbu in Denver, Colorado. The organization is noted for its annual tournament, the Sabaki Challenge, a full-contact, no pads/no gloves, knockdown karate rules competition held annually in Denver and open to advanced martial artists from any style or school. [3]

Meaning of name

Enshin is derived from two Japanese words or kanji: "en," meaning "open or unfinished circle," and, "shin," meaning "heart" or "inner." "En" relates to the circular movement inherent in the Sabaki Method. However, the circle is "open" or "unfinished" to suggest that studying Enshin and Sabaki is a continuous journey, i.e. a process and not an end that is most important. "Shin" signifies that the Enshin students are not adversaries, but members of a mutually supportive family. "Kaikan" basically means "organization."


Joko Ninomiya (二宮城光, Ninomiya Joko) was born on January 27, 1954, in Yawatahama City, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku, Japan. At age 12 Ninomiya began training in a Judo class taught by a teacher at his junior high school. After turning 14, Ninomiya did extra Judo training at the local police station gym on weekends and holidays. It was there that he met the man who would become his teacher and mentor in karate Hideyuki Ashihara. One year later, in 1969, Ninomiya began training in Ashihara's Kyokushin karate dojo.

When Ninomiya was 17, he was chosen to compete in the 1971 All-Japan Tournament as the youngest competitor. Ninomiya subsequently competed in the 1972, 1973, and 1976 All-Japan Tournaments and the 1975 All-World Tournament, making it to the later rounds in all of them. Ultimately, he won the 1978 All-Japan and then retired from tournament competition.

In 1973 Ninomiya was selected to go train at the Kyokushin dojo in New York City. He stayed on in New York City as an instructor for several years. In 1977 he moved to Denver and opened his own Kyokushin dojo.

In 1980 Hideyuki Ashihara left the Kyokushin organization and started his own style Ashihara Karate. Ninomiya joined Ashihara's organization and directed the US region of Ashihara Karate from Denver. Over the next eight years, Ashihara Karate slowly increased in size in the US and around the world.

During this time, Ninomiya states that he had developed strategies and ideas of his own that he was eager to implement in his training curriculum. He also wanted to develop his own tournament format that would provide what he felt to be a “true” test of karate skills. Therefore, in May, 1988, Ninomiya decided to leave Ashihara Karate and start his own style. Most of the instructors and students of Ashihara in the US decided to follow Ninomiya into his new organization, providing a strong base for the new style Enshin Karate.

Since 1988, Enshin Karate has continued to be headquartered at Ninomiya's honbu in Denver. The organization has grown and now includes schools in Asia, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East, as well as in the US. Ninomiya's idea for an open, knockdown-rules tournament that promotes the Sabaki method became the Sabaki Challenge that has been held annually in Denver since 1989.


The techniques or kihon of Enshin include many of the same or similar kicks, punches, strikes, blocks, and parries found in most other karate styles. However, in contrast to many other karate styles, Enshin also includes sweeps, grabs, throws, and takedowns most often found in judo, Jujutsu, and other grappling styles. The core emphasis in applying all of these techniques is through the Sabaki Method.

Perhaps due to Ninomiya's background in Kyokushin, most, if not all, of the Kyokushin striking techniques are found in Enshin. The kicks include front kick, knee kick, roundhouse kick, axe kick, side kick, back kick, and spinning back hook kick. Groin and front-knee-joint kicks are taught for self-defense purposes, but, for safety reasons, aren't used in sparring (kumite) or tournament competition. The arm and hand strikes include forefist straight punch, hook punch, forefist underpunch, knifehand strike (the classic “karate chop”), and elbow strikes. These strikes can be delivered in a variety of ways. For example, a roundhouse kick can be directed at the lower, middle, or upper areas of the opponent's body.

The arms and legs are also used for various blocks and parries. These include the upper block, middle outside parry, lower parry, shin block, and foot stop.

Several throws, sweeps, and grabs are taught and often employed in combination with each other. The grabs are either with one or two hands to the opponent's head, neck, shoulder, arm, or leg. The throws include forward-rolling throw, front throw, back throw, and over-the-shoulder throw. The sweeps include foot sweep, inside thigh kick, and back-of-knee-joint kick.

Many of the principles of the Sabaki method were developed by Ashihara. The Sabaki method aims to employ all of these strikes, block, parries, grabs, sweeps, throws, and takedowns in a way that puts the opponent on the ground as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once on the ground, the opponent is “finished-off” or knocked-out with a strike to a vulnerable part of the body such as the neck or head (finish-off moves are simulated in Enshin training or tournament competition). Sabaki strategy combines rhythm, timing, position, and distance to parry and counterattack in one continuous motion. The ability to turn defense into offense by using an opponent's power and momentum against him lies at the heart of the Sabaki method.

The basic technique in the Sabaki method is to parry the opponent's attack in a way that redirects their attacking energy away from you. You then move to your opponent's weak side or blind spot that has been opened-up by your parry and execute a strike, throw, sweep, or combination of these to put the opponent on the ground. The combination of movements involve circular or pendulum motions of the body in order to redirect the opponent's attack without meeting it head-on (meeting force with force) and to counterattack with motions that generate energy and momentum. Many of the parries and sweeps are designed to put the opponent off-balance which makes it much easier to knock them to the ground as their own body and momentum assist in carrying him/her to the ground or floor.

Sabaki Challenge

Mike Ninomiya competing in the Sabaki Challenge EnshinSabaki.jpg
Mike Ninomiya competing in the Sabaki Challenge

Since 1989 Enshin Karate has held the Sabaki Challenge (officially called the Sabaki Challenge, World Open Tournament and often unofficially called the World Sabaki Challenge) in Denver, Colorado. The Sabaki Challenge is a full-contact single elimination tournament intended to fulfill Ninomiya's vision of a showcase of a "true," stand-up martial arts skills competition. [4] The tournament is open to advanced male and female competitors of any style. The tournament competitors are divided into (male) lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight, and female divisions. [5]

The rules of the Sabaki Challenge favor and promote use of the sabaki method including use of grabs (one handed), sweeps and throws, in addition to kicks, punches, and other strikes. A competitor is able to win by knockout of their opponent or by points scored against their opponent. [6] 1 point is awarded for a sweep or takedown. 3 points are awarded for a sweep or takedown followed by a quick simulated strike to the opponent such as a punch. Hand and elbow strikes to the head and neck aren't permitted, but kicks are. Grabs are permitted to one side of the opponent's body for three seconds at a time. Since it is a full-contact tournament, knock-outs do sometimes occur.

In addition to the annual Sabaki Challenge in Denver, schools in the US also hold Regional Sabaki tournaments for karateka to compete in full contact tournaments to gain experience and for finalists to apply to compete in the World Sabaki Challenge. An annual Sabaki Challenge is held in Japan called the All Japan Sabaki Challenge tournament. Japan finalists can apply to compete in the World Sabaki Challenge. There are also Regional Sabaki tournaments held in Japan. An annual Sabaki challenge is held in a European country called the International European Sabaki Challenge with finalists able to apply to compete in the World Sabaki Challenge.

Related Research Articles

Kickboxing Stand-up combat sports

Kickboxing is a stand-up combat sport based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defence, general fitness, or as a contact sport.

Kyokushin Combat sports organization

Kyokushin (極真) is a style of stand-up fighting and was founded in 1964 by Korean-Japanese Masutatsu Oyama. "Kyokushin" is Japanese for "the ultimate truth". It is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training. Its full contact style has international appeal.

Full contact karate Competition formats of karate where competitors spar full-contact and which allow a knockout as winning criterion

Full contact karate is any format of karate where competitors spar full-contact and allow a knockout as winning criterion

Kumite Martial arts grappling technique

Kumite is one of the three main sections of karate training, along with kata and kihon. Kumite is the part of karate in which a person trains against an adversary, using the techniques learned from the kihon and kata.

Sanda (sport) Chinese self-defense system and combat sport

Sanda, formerly Sanshou, also known as Chinese boxing or Chinese kickboxing, is the official Chinese full contact combat sport. Sanda is a fighting system which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional Kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which includes close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes.

Hideyuki Ashihara Japanese karateka

Hideyuki Ashihara was a Japanese master of karate who founded Ashihara karate in 1980 with the emphasis on Sabaki. He is often attributed as one of the originators of the tai sabaki method. He was known for his weapon skills including shuriken and tonfa.

Jōkō Ninomiya is the founder and director of Enshin Karate. He presides over the Enshin organization from the headquarters (honbu) in Denver, Colorado. His title as head of the Enshin organization is "Kanchō" (Grandmaster).

Katsuaki Satō is the founder and director of Satojuku Karate, also known as Odo karate. The Satojuku honbu (headquarters) is located in Tachikawa, Japan.

Miyuki Miura is a prominent Japanese master of karate, first practising Shotokan, then Kyokushin, then World Ōyama, and now operating independently.

Mas Oyama karate master

Masutatsu Ōyama, more commonly known as Mas Oyama, was a karate master who founded Kyokushin Karate, considered the first and most influential style of full contact karate. A Zainichi Korean, he spent most of his life living in Japan and acquired Japanese citizenship in 1968.

Tai sabaki

Tai sabaki (体捌き) is a term from Japanese martial arts and which relates to 'whole body movement', or repositioning. It can be translated as body-management. It is a term used widely in and very important in kendo, jujutsu, aikido, judo, karate and ninjutsu. Tai sabaki is usually used to avoid an attack, such that the receiver of the attack ends up in an advantageous position and it is often wrongly referred to as evasion.

Gerard Gordeau Dutch karateka, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler

Gerard Gordeau is a Dutch former savateur, karateka, and mixed martial artist. He is the 1991 World Champion Savate and holder of the Dutch Champion Kyokushin Karate title for 8 consecutive years, but foremost known internationally for his fight against Teila Tuli in the first televised Ultimate Fighting Championship bout on 12 November 1993, and for his employment of "dirty," often illegal fighting techniques such as biting and eye-gouging.

Patrick Smith (fighter) American kickboxer and mixed martial arts fighter

Patrick Smith was an American kickboxer and mixed martial artist. He started his mixed martial arts career by participating in the first two Ultimate Fighting Championship events.

Hajime Kazumi Karate instructor

Hajime Kazumi (born December 14, 1971) is a Japanese karateka. Born in Kanagawa prefecture, Kazumi is a karate fighter who played an active part in the full-contact karate tournaments hosted by Kyokushinkaikan from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.

Terutomo Yamazaki is a Japanese karateka from the Kyokushin Kaikan (極真会館) and professional lightweight kickboxer. He is the founder of Gyakushin-Kai (逆真会館) and a Director of Karate in Japan. He presides over the International Budo Karate Organization Gyakushin-Kai from the headquarters of the organization (honbu) in Ōmiya-ku, Saitama, Japan. His title as head of the Gyakushin-Kai organization is “Kancho”.

Yoshiji Soeno is a Japanese karateka and a retired professional welterweight kickboxer.

Ashihara kaikan Modern full contact street karate developed from Kyokushin

Ashihara kaikan is a modern full contact street karate developed from Kyokushin karate by Hideyuki Ashihara with influences from various martial arts including Muay Thai, Pankration, and Jujutsu with an emphasis on Sabaki, using footwork and techniques to turn an opponent's power and momentum against them and to reposition oneself to the opponent's "blind" spot. The style is focused on practical application in a real fight including multiple attackers.

Shidōkan (士道館) is a eclectic style of Knockdown karate, founded by Yoshiji Soeno. Established in 1978, its governing body is the World Karate Association Shidokan, with its headquarters located in Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Currently, it has branches in 68 countries around the world.

Byakuren Kaikan Full contact karate style founded in 1984 by Sugihara Masayasu

The Byakuren Kaikan or Byakuren Karate is a full contact karate style founded in 1984 by Sugihara Masayasu.


Kūdō is a Japanese hybrid martial art. It is a full-contact combat sport that aims to achieve both safety and practicality, a style of mixed martial arts practised with headgear and gloves. It features stand-up striking, with throwing and grappling techniques being also allowed in the competition, including restraint, locks and chokeholds.


  1. "Sabaki Challenge Draws 2,000". Black Belt Magazine . Active Interest Media, Inc. 1 August 1988. Retrieved 6 July 2017 via Google Books.
  2. "Black Belt". February 1974. p.  38 . Retrieved 2015-08-11 via Internet Archive. Enshin karate.Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  3. "Black Belt". February 1974. p.  37 . Retrieved 2015-08-11 via Internet Archive. Sabaki Challenge.Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  4. Inc, Active Interest Media (1 February 1994). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2017 via Google Books.
  5. Inc, Active Interest Media (1 August 1990). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2017 via Google Books.
  6. Ninomiya, Kancho Joko; Zorensky, Ed (6 July 1998). Sabaki Method: Karate in the Inner Circle. Frog Books. ISBN   9781883319748 . Retrieved 6 July 2017 via Google Books.