Katsumi Niikura Sensei Interview
Click here to see an interview with
Sensei and Raymond Francis
Sensei Katsumi Niikura (Sensei) has
been aware of the presence of ki energy since his childhood. While playing
outdoors, he often wondered how the carp in the river managed to stay
immobile against the flow of the current. Did it have something to do
with how it breathed?
He had been interested in the respiration since his childhood. Katsumi
Niikura Sensei At the age of 12 years, he began studying the martial arts
and found that in helping his fellow students with their injuries, something
like energy seemed to leave his hands. His first attempt to devote his
life to using Ki for healing came when his own daughter was diagnosed
with brain cancer. He applied Ki energy while she underwent conventional
medical treatment and when she recovered, he continued to refine his conventional
medical treatment of other illnesses.
He believes that one of the benefits of Ki therapy is that it supplements
the weakened energy of the body and helps to alleviate the discomfort
often associated with conventional medical treatments such as surgery.
Today he teaches Ki, which is not a martial art, but an instrument for
healing that in its own way is equally powerful.
1955 : Age 12: began to study karate and judo. At the time, karate
was not well thought of; many people in Japan associated it with organized
crime and criminal classes ( much the same perception that the same people
in America of boxing today), so Niikura-san studied Karatedo 'on the sly',
without his parents knowledge. In the late '50s, he won a Junior Championship
at the prefecture level ( equivalent to our state level), and a neighbor,
reading of it in the paper, came over to congratulate his father. That
is how his father found out that Niikurasan was studying karatedo.
1961 : He graduated from high school and began to study Karatedo.
At the same time he was increasing the intensity of his physical training,
Niikura began to seek a balance in his life by pursuing restful, mental
training in the form of ikebana, the Japanese style of flower arranging.
As members of the warrior class of Japan had for hundreds of years, he
found that ikebana added harmony to his life and an inner peace that allowed
him to continue to excel to greater plateaus in his martial arts career.
1963 : Elevated to rank of Shodan (first degree black belt) . In
this same year, Niikura-san began to study other styles of karate as well
1967 : Elevated to Sandan (third degree black belt) . He won the
All -Japan/Asia Karatedo Championship in kumite (sparring). Niikura was
also awarded his Ikebana teacher's license.
1968 : Began study of Iaido (samurai swordsmanship) . Niikura made
his first trip to the United States this year, where he gave karate exhibitions
and became aquatinted with Don Madden (head coach for the United States
of America Karate Federation (USAKF). Niikura donated his share of the
proceeds from these exhibitions to the Cancer Society. This trip was the
first of several exchange visits between U.S. and Japanese martial arts
students coordinated by Niikura and Madden.
1973 : At age 30, he founded International Ryokukai Karatedo ,
a new karate style based on the best of what he had discovered through
his study of a variety of karate styles, plus Aikido and Iaido.
1976 : International Ryokukai Brazil, the first Ryokukai dojo outside
Japan, was founded in Brazil. During this period, five to six students
coached by Niikura-San were named Japanese national junior champions in
free style wrestling each year.
1979 : Niikura accepted Tokey Hill, an American sport karate competitor,
as a student at his Japanese dojo. Hill trained with Niikura daily, and
was eventually promoted by Niikura to the rank of sandan.
1980 : Tokey Hill become World Light Heavyweight champion in kumite;
he was the first American ever to place so highly in karate competition.
1984 : Niikura came to the USA and in the process moved the home
dojo of international Ryokukai to Sterling Heights Michigan.