Ashihara kaikan

Date founded 1980
Country of origin Japan
Founder Hideyuki Ashihara
Arts taught Karate
Ancestor schools Kyokushin
Descendant schools Enshin kaikan
Official website

Ashihara karate is a modern full contact street karate developed from Kyokushin karate by Hideyuki Ashihara with influences from various martial arts including Boxing, Muay Thai and Jujutsu with an emphasis on Sabaki. The style is revolutionary as it is solely focused on practical application in a real fight including multiple attackers, a street style, with all techniques taught effective in a real fight against an attacker or multiple attackers of any size. Sabaki is 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 first worldwide public display of Sabaki was in the documentary on the first Kyokushin World Open Tournament in 1975. Shihan Hideyuki Ashihara (senior instructor) displayed his Sabaki skills to defeat multiple attackers in a demonstration at the start of documentary. In 1980, Hideyuki Ashihara established his own style of karate forming the New International Karate Organisation (NIKO) - Ashihara Karate Kaikan and became the Kancho (Grandmaster) of NIKO.

The Honbu (headquarters) of Ashihara is located in Matsuyama City. Kancho Ashihara appointed senior student Joko Ninomiya and tournament champion, who was already based in the United States, as Shihan (senior instructor) for the United States.


The technical aspects of Ashihara are shaped around 6 basic areas:

The basics are 21 basic techniques which are all practical in a street fight.

The katas are based on Sabaki and are applicable to real fighting situations making them unique in the world of karate. There are six kata types:

In the katas there are three types of pattern: short, middle and long range. Each kata can be used for solo combination practice or with a partner as control technique training. Ashihara Karate is called a modern style, in part, for its revolutionary katas have no historical influence from traditional Samurai era karate katas, every move (strike, footwork, block or sweep) is effective in a street fight with the karateka envisioning an opponent and once the kata is mastered by the karateka it will then be performed with an attacker, with the karateka grading solo and with an attacker.

Full contact fighting (kumite) is practiced in training and in gradings.


The essence of Ashihara Karate is contained within Sabaki, the method of fighting that combines defense and offense into one. In creating Sabaki, Kancho Ashihara considered the various functions of the human body, and how to maximise the body performance in order to control an opponent without being punched or kicked. For example, there are directions of movement that the human body finds easy as well as awkward. If your opponents approach head on, it needs a great deal of power to force them back, especially if they are a lot stronger. If instead, you step to his side and pull him onward, he will carry on under his own steam. At that point, if you apply a little force from the outside, you can change the direction of his momentum and upset his balance. By using your opponents force against them, you can see how someone who is not as strong can fell a much larger opponent. If this principle can be understood and mastered, then karate becomes something which anyone can learn.

Two important concepts of Sabaki are fight control and positioning.

Positioning - refers to the ability to take up a position at the opponents side or back (blindspot) from which you can easily attack without being attacked yourself.

Fight control - is a term that represent that which Ashihara Karate stands for, it involve a revolutionary, scientific, logical and safe type of self defense training; specifically, it refers to the ability to take up a safe and strong position from which to contain your opponent and launch a counter-attack.

Instruction guide

Kancho Ashihara published his first book in English in 1985 titled Fighting Karate.[1] An instructional video was released in 1985 in English. A second instructional book titled More Fighting Karate was published in 1989.[2] In Japanese, Kancho Ashihara published his first book in 1983 Jissen Ashihara Karate,[3] his second book in 1984 Jissen Ashihara Karate 2[4] and his third book in 1987 Jissen Ashihara Karate 3.[5] Kancho Ashihara released his first Japanese instructional video in 1984,[6] his second in 1986 [7] and third also in 1986.[8]

Uniforms and ranking

The karate gi was unique at the time as it featured the name of the style on the back of the jacket in English "Ashihara Karate", in addition to the Ashihara in kanji on the front of the jacket, and also on the left sleeve there was an Ashihara logo in colour and in English. The ranking and belt system is the same as Kyokushin.


Kancho Ashihara did not initially create an annual World Tournament for the style. United States Shihan Joko Ninomiya had been holding an annual tournament in Denver since 1978 in Kyokushin rules which continued after NIKO was formed now in Ashihara rules.[9] This tournament named the Sabaki U.S. Open Karate Challenge became the de facto World Tournament open to all styles with Ashihara rules and attracted international entrants including Japanese. The tournament was held until 1988.[10]

In 1993, Kancho Ashihara gave permission to the Denmark Branch to organize a World Tournament naming it the Sabaki Challenge Spirit. In 1994, the first annual Sabaki Challenge Spirit was held in Denmark.[11] The tournament was only open to NIKO karateka. No Japanese competitors ever entered preferring to compete in Kyokushin tournaments in Japan. In 2011, the tournament affiliation with NIKO ceased and ever since NIKO has organized their own tournament named the Sabaki World Championship.

Ashihara tournaments are similar to Enshin karate tournaments such as rules - weight divisions, winning by knockout or points, scoring, allowed techniques, one handed grabs and throws.


Kancho Ashihara students include former US head instructor Joko Ninomiya (Kyokushin 1978 All Japan Tournament champion and Kyokushin 1975 World Open finalist) founder of Enshin Karate, former Honbu senior instructor Makoto Hirohara (Sabaki US Open Karate Challenge Tournament Champion) founder of Shintaiikudo and former Honbu senior instructor Hiroshi Harada founder of Josui International Karate.


Ashihara established branches in Japan and spread throughout the world. Kancho Ashihara died in 1995 at 50 years of age due to illness before his death he named his young Hidenori to be his successor as Kancho of NIKO. [12]

Karate schools derived from NIKO, include Enshin in the United States, Shintaiikudo in Japan, Josui International Karate Organisation in Japan, Ashihara International Karate Organization (AIKO) in Holland, International Ashihara Karate Association (IAKA) in Russia, Ashihara Karate International (AKI) in South Africa, Ashihara BudoKai in Russia and TSG – Ashihara International Karate in Sweden.

Famous karateka include retired Dutch K-1 World Champion and Glory Champion kickboxer Semmy Schilt, Georgian Glory kickboxer Davit Kiria, Danish UFC fighter Nicolas Dalby, Russian Bellator fighter Alexander Volkov and Russian Andrey Levandin five time Sabaki Challenge Spirit champion (2005–2010).


  1. Hideyuki, Ashihara (1985). Fighting karate. Kodansha America, Inc. ISBN 9780870117428.
  2. Hideyuki, Ashihara (1989). More Fighting Karate. Kodansha America, Inc. ISBN 9780870118722.
  3. Ashihara, Hideyuki (1983). 芦原カラテ ケンカ十段のスーパーテクニック. Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-4061080706.
  4. Ashihara, Hideyuki (1984). 芦原カラテ 2 発展編. Kodansha. ISBN 9784061015074.
  5. Ashihara, Hideyuki (1987). 芦原カラテ 3 誰にでもできる空手 基礎編. Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 9784061015142.
  6. スーパーテクニック 芦原空手 サバキ ~限りなきチャレンジャー~. Toho Video - Nissho Iwai Company Ltd. 1984.
  7. 実戦! 芦原カラテ 基本編. Kodansha Ltd. 1986.
  8. 実戦! 芦原カラテ 応用編. Kodansha Ltd. 1986.
  9. Kancho Joko Ninomiya & Ed Zorensky (2000). My Journey in Karate. Frog Books. ISBN 978-1583940174.
  10. "Profile Makoto Hirohara". Shintaiikudo karate. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  11. "History". Sabaki Challenge Spirit. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  12. "History". New International Karate Organization (NIKO) - Ashihara Kaikan. Archived from the original on August 4, 2004. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
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