Interview with the president of the international organization World Kyokushin Budokai (WKB) – Kancho Pedro Roiz (8 Dan, Spain).
During the last years, this organization has developed a lot, but still there is little information about it.
We decided to talk to the founder of the WKB about the very beginning of his karate path, about the idea of creating an organization, about its development and his plan on future.
The interview was registered in Spanish. We would like to thank Shihan Daniel Sanchez who helped us in his role as the interviewer, as we do not speak Spanish and Kancho is not bilingual in English.
Thanks to Nastasia Iavorskaya, Sabina Fernandez Miñarro and Guillem Matas Garcia, who helped us with translation.
First can you introduce yourself? What’s your name?
Osu. I’m Kancho Pedro Roiz. I’m 8th Dan of Karate Kyokushin and also the President of the World Kyokushin Budokai.
Recently, the WKB has been developing quite actively, but despite of this, very little information is available about it. And with your help we’d like to change this situation. Do you agree?
Yes, I think that currently, the communication aspect isn`t developed enough. As we mainly pay attention to what`s in our duties – visiting different countries, maintaining communication with other organizations, etc. So talking about the communication, we have a bit negligent attitude towards it now. But we are aiming to fix that and provide more information in the future. We are mostly focused on communicating with our representatives than with a large audience.
Let’s start from the beginning. How and when did you start practicing Kyokushin Karate?
I started prcaticing Kyokushin in 1973. Though back then, I didn’t know Kyokushin as well as I do now. Kyokushin was… we all worked in one type of karate. And Kyokushin gradually started to develop more in 1978-1979. New styles and some changes started to appear in the world.
Who was your first coach?
My first coach was Gregorio Barluega, who was one of the first students of Antonio Piñero. And I started to train with him when I was 12. At that period a lot of children couldn’t do karate. So I had a Judo license, but since 1978 we could already have a karate license.
What’s the greatest and the most important lesson you`ve learned from your coach? Do you pass it to young generations?
I`m teaching the next generations the lessons I was once taught. That we take responsibility for our students to take part in various seminars across Spain and the world. And that`s what I do. If I go to any seminar, they go with me. I was never hiding anything, as every person is individual and he must study to learn something new. You’ve participated in tournaments, what are your achievments? At that time there were tournaments with semi contact, full contact did not exist. The first tournament I took part in was the one of the region where I lived: Alicante, Albacete and Murcia, I became the champion of this tournament. And till 1980 I continued to be the captain of the team of this region in Spain. Later we started to take part in Kyokushin Championships.
In 1981 there was a first competition in Spain. In 1984 I became the champion of Spain. At that period of time it was difficult to travel. And due to the politics all competitions in Europe were closed. It was a very difficult time for Spain from the point of view of the economy. It was a very complicated situation with the currency we had – peseta. As we didn’t have any financial help for participation in international competitions.
At what age did you get your first dan rank?
As I was 17, I had to wait until I would be 18, in 1980, sorry in 1979.
What do you remember about that experience? How was it?
I have to say that the exams in Kyokushin were different from what we have now. At that time, it was an exam, prepared by the government, to get a dan rank and black sash, it really was a great experience. And it was completely different than what we`d got used to, it was an international level. The experience was very tough. Thanks to that I obtained more knowledge and experience.
How and where did you first meet Bluming? What person was he and what have you learned from him?
Well… as the matter of fact, I had a lot of opportunities to train with different representatives of Kyokushin karate. And I always heard the legend about Bluming. I got in contact with him and we were able to see him here, in Spain. That was the moment when I understood that I had to follow my way along with John Bluming. Because it was a person with tremendous experience and he knew what he had to do in a certain moment. Thanks to him we could recover many stories, numerous legends and false myths. And from a lot of legends of Kyokushin karate.
At the time I was a coach, I had to know all of that. As well as to know Kurosaki and John Bluming. The most important for me was that it was the real karate. It was not an just a fitness, but rather “body to body” and a person against other person and at the end…it could be over even with death.
For how many years have you been in John Bluming`s organizations?
I was in Bluming`s organization until the very last day. The last trip Blooming took was here to Spain, after which doctors forbade him to travel. Before that he had visited Russia and the last one was here, in Spain for the World Cup. He knew about my projects and he knew that I was doing the right thing and always supported me.
Your first trip to Japan. How was it and what was its aim?
The first aim was to go to train in Japan. And feel the intensity of training in Japan by myself. It was actually a very valuable experience. Second, it was the participation in Kyokushin competitions, where I represented Spain. To see all those organizations was like to discover a whole new world. I realized that there was still something to work on.
How often do you visit Japan and what do these trips give you?
We go to Japan once or twice a year. I am a friend with a lot of coaches, such as Sato and also Matsuda with whom we started our friendship through Kyokushin karate seminars and training together. What interests us the most in Japan are not the ideas, but ways. That`s the right way to practice Kyokushin. What we need is education, the Budo. So we went to practice with Sato and other coaches. That`s a great experience and we were spreading not ideas but feelings. So, we follow these thoughts, as karate is nothing else than feelings.
What was the aim of WKB creation?
In the beginning when I founded my organization I was a coach of the national team in IKO-1 Spain. And I had the feeling that something was missing. We needed to work with coaches and develop different styles. And even Bluming told me, that we need to search for other origins and new acquaintances.
IKO-1 organization it`s very powerful and big, but it doesn`t have enough work essence, that’s why I focused on work essence. I could see that work essence in Sigeru Oyama. That`s a big school, not a big organization but a powerful school. And that’s what I was looking for. As exactly to the creation of a person affects personal qualities. Organizations are more specialized in creating events. What we are looking for is more knowledge in Kyokushin karate.
Why did you decide to go your own way and create an organization?
Due to political reasons, and pride. The participants of the tournaments, who were there came because of the organization. I made the decision to follow my path because I could not fail in my responsibility to send the best fighters. I made a list of the fighters which was not respected and that was a moment when I started my way. I stated communication and training with Sigeru. That was a very great experience. And I started to notice how much we lose in organizations when they prohibit us to train with other people. Knowledge acquisition should be free.
It is necessary to stay with other people to improve, share and work even more. And that’s where I started to form the IBK, at the beginning we started as a small organization and in the end, we became the biggest organization of Kyokushin in Spain.
How did John Blooming reacted at the creation of WKB? Did he support it?
We had a meeting in Switzerland where he held the training session. He asked me to go there. At that time we have already created WKB, so we went there. During these meetings I explained why I decided to do that. But John Bluming didn’t ask me about that, I told him about it earlier. The members who were there, they said that I was betraying them, but I just wanted to make a future project to develop more the IBK, because IBK was only on an international level and I wanted it on a world level.
An organization with rules, the same rules, allowing everyone to work in equal conditions. Many people didn’t agree with that and notified us about this fact. But people who were there like Albert Nica and others, can affirm that Bluming hit the table and said he believed in me. That when he needed help I was there for him so, he trusted me. He told that everything I did at that moment was right. In fact, he supported the World Cup in Spain with the new WKB logos. The saddest thing was that this was his last trip.
How WKB differs from other organizations?
What differs it from other organizations… This organization works individually per country. People, who develop Kyokushin should deal with this project in the country. That’s the difference that we are the organization that works across the country. We create a Federation within the country. We all have to know how to follow rules, which will be the rules, agreed with the approval of the rest.
Now, for example, there is a country in which there are sports clubs that have to develop within the country. Countries possess great responsibility and economic opportunities, and organizations bear all the responsibility. What we want is to help the country by working for quality both technically and ethically, morally… and organizationally as well.
Under what conditions are new members accepted into the organization?
As a rule, when someone contacts us. We ask what role Kyokushin plays in his life. We check his condition and how we can assist him to develop it in his country. If this person doesn’t have any organizational skills anyway he can be a good participant of competitions and a fighter. But you need to be much more to become a member of WKB. You also need to move forward, try to develop.
We want people who can create democratic relations in their organization, so that he can implement new rules stipulating by his country. We don’t want to give someone the power to make his own kingdom , no… It`s an open organization, modern, in which every leader chooses what`s necessary to add depending on cultural peculiarities, traditions, etc.
These are criteria under which WKB exists in the world. Katas, Kihon, philosophy … And most of all, we pay attention to the fact that a person should be able to organize it all within his own country and go beyond the boundaries of other places. Being here in Spain or Poland, Ukraine… So that he would be able to develop Kyokushin in other countries too. Not “I have the 5th level and I don’t want to increase it to 10”. These are the criteria we are looking for.
Next question is what should one have to become a national representative?
It can be a Branch Chief or the head of the state. A person is Branch Chief, when has an important number of students. Because of the responsibility you need to have, and at least you have to had the 3rd dan. In such case you don’t have this dan rank, you need to have support, a person in another country, who is going to help you to follow your way.
How many countries are there in WKB now?
Now there are approximately 54 countries. When we talk about 54 countries, I mean these countries take active participation. There are places I travel to in South America and there are other organizations where representatives have no support or the representative, who has only 3 students.
Also, if a person has dedicated 30 years to karate and he has only 10 students this means that this person hasn’t done the right job. That`s why we want the participants from different countries to be active and demonstrate us their work. Those countries which do not report on the work done, automatically leave our team.
In which countries are the WKB representatives most developed??
Chile for example has arround 80 dojos, is a country that has become very developed and has the opportunity to arrange tournaments and engage in social progress.. Ukraine as well, that`s a strong country, with the representative of Shihan Sergei. Is a person with opportunities familiar to everyone. There is Poland too, with 3 strong branch chiefs. Now Kazakhstan will be a part; many projects are planned there.
Currently we are working on a development in China, there will be also 3 branch chiefs held. These are the countries where we are starting to develop. In Japan thanks to the branch chief some significant strategical changes will be performed. And I think that in the end we`ll have power and strength in Japan.
The history of the organization can be conditionally divided into 2 parts. This is the period until the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. How has the organization changed after the entry of a large number of people from IKO?
We bear a great responsibility as new people come. Considering that new organizations appear, this gives us an incentive to work harder on the structure and build connections with others.
Our organization was like a family and we didn’t want to lose this peculiarity but that`s very difficult. When someone new appears he should understand our manner of work. The most important thing is to consider each other`s opinion. To come here for them is a huge responsibility, as they were in very powerful organizations.
To leave such a strong organization and join us is a great journey. I appreciate a lot their trust. Gradually we went along this path and now it is already possible to talk about my philosophy. People, who came from Poland can train Kyokushin in schools and demonstrate skills they`ve acquired in other schools. The way of the development is great when you understand that you`ve learned something new.
Then at some point you realize that that`s not the limit. That`s the same as if to close yourself in a carton box, as there are lots of coaches around the world you can train with. Moreover any organization should be open for education. So that it wasn’t like “I am getting ready for the World Cup” but what do I do the rest of the year?
I can choose any teacher I want to learn something new from. When I go outside I can find a teacher and start training with him. And the greatest thing is that they currently find them. They can share their experience with the coaches and these coaches pass on their experience. And that`s what happened to us and gave us an organizational incentive and new ideas how to bring many things into life. Currently we divide these responsibilities among us. I could share my knowledge, so they have been developed significantly. As for now they are of a great value for us, they are good competitors. Besides that they are important for us as people. So we combine these two things and consider us friends.
What have changed in the Organization within last few years?
A lot of things have changed. Now we have great fighters, in this regard, we are very advanced. We have changed … as I can say. Now we have much more responsibility. We need to explain everything to those who have just joined. These development gave us much more work. .Before I had seminars, but now I have to hold at least 2 seminars per month and go abroad and support them, teach them what I obtained from Bluming and other teachers.
We gather in Japan , and a championship with lots of participants is held there. And when we have a Branch Chief Assembly. Big organizations also take part in it. So, a lot of things have changed, the Iran entry, the Iraq entry… I have now much more work and responsibility.
Are you satisfied with the pace at which the organization is developing and consider that the path chosen is the right one?
I believe that nobody knows exactly what is the right path, We try to develop in a right way, with right people with branch chief that really want to develop the organization and Karate. We don`t want our organization to be dedicated solely for events, but we want an organization were everyone takes a part in it. Now a lot of different representatives came; Iran, Lebanon… and it helped to understand problems, existing in every country. For example, communication in China greatly differs from countries in the rest of the world. So, we have a lot of work there now.
How much assistance does the state provide to the federations and clubs that develop Kyokushin karate?
There are some countries which reached heights in sports competitions. For example, here, in Spain we don’t have any assistance from government for the organization of events. Our organization here in my city we have support because we are very socially recognized. But all support we obtain are through world branches. What we are working at now is the enhanced development of the organization.
I know that within last few years you’ve been actively negotiating to join KWU. Is there any progress in this sphere, is it possible to share it with a wide audience?
At the moment they contacted us, we contacted them first.
3 organizations of KWU agreed but 1 not, and explained that they don’t want conflicts, considering that if there is a new organization in the country the other organization starts to suffer. Nowadays due to the performed work a lot of things have changed, countries, who are a part of KWU contacted us and asked for help, providing a detailed report on what place we will occupy in KWU. They asked whether we`ll have the opportunity to come for the meeting in Varna. And during the meeting we will talk about our joining or non-joining to KWU.
I think that if all the organizations have a meeting point it`s very interesting. And we need to consider in which way we can do it. Many countries that are a part of KWU or are members of KWU. Not block other organizations or strong fighters because of personal interest as this must be an open organization for all fighters and clubs in this country. So, if the KWU considers all these issues, we can offer them a solution of the current problem. But to give the idea how that must function. We must be the members of board, to make such decisions and vote and to be with them, and if we don’t give them ideas how should they know that we’re with them?
In truth, if they block other organizations in some countries. We will continue to work on that problem, If the negotiations are successful and we`ll join KWU, it`s going to be a great step forward for us. We`ll host a championship in South America. weight competitions will be held in Europe. There will be also an Asian championship,a range of various activities.
All members of our organization made a lot of effort and if we decide now to join the KWU it will be even more efforts. So, KWU should appreciate that. All efforts we made for the organization of these events can be aimed into other directions as well.
What do most managers and the international committee think about this idea?
There are people, who agree and those who doubt. We worked a lot to become who we are and for recognition. We were looking for the martial recognition, and now we have it, now we are a very welcomed organization in Japan. During the last European Cup many organizations came to support us as well. And in South America we are very strong as well. So, everyone has their own doubts. What can the KWU become for us?
I always tell the members of our organization that we play a significant role for the KWU. What we can do is to join efforts of small organization with bigger ones. There are lots of champions in KWU, but still not enough.
What will WKB entering into the KWU give to its fighters?
In fact, we are not really thinking about it now, because this is an amateur sport. As we work on many aspects together. What does it mean for us? It is to compete with other participants, who are the best. To get experience during training and that our fighters will become better fighting against the KWU ones. The most significant thing for us is our experience.
You are 57 now and you keep taking an active participation in sports competitions. What gives you vivacity and energy?
Yes, I have energy but I`m not the only one, who takes part in the process of organization, there are many people engaged. My task is support. As I already work for many years even my recent illness wasn’t an obstacle for it. Because I think you need to fight with everything. Do we have a project – yes, but it`s not my personal project, it`s a shared one. For generations which I may help and give a piece of advice about profession. Our time is 5-6 years and after that a younger generation should follow. We must give the responsibility to the youth.
Sooner or later, each leader will be looking for a person who can continue his work. Have you ever thought about this?
I think that following a person is a bit outdated, it is rather continuing the project. We need to work in a team, and not on our own. To organize teamwork, if we don’t do this, the thing that was with Sosai can happen again. We have a good organization, so it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. For example the Asian or the European Commission should be in charge, and not the leader. And these commissions can say that this person should represent us in different activities. And after that, someone else can come to replace this person, there’s no problem.
In 2027, I think that this project will be functioning this way. We need to change a lot of things, remove a lot of outdated things.
What is Kyokushin karate for you?
Many people say that Kyokushin is close contact. I remember when we started to practice Kyokushin, we really didn’t know what it was. Kyokushin was written on our clothes, but we didn’t understand what it was. And also we did not know about the idea, why it appeared and exists today. Thanks to many teachers, I understood what Kyokushin was.
Kyokushin is a character, a way to face things. I remember how we trained with people who tried a variety of other styles. And when they saw the Kyokushin, they said: “no, they are crazy”. I don’t think we were crazy, just not many people understood Kyokushin. The man who began to fight in Kyokushin, it was to the end, since it is a character, not a technique, the character.
And if we lose this character, someone will see how a person fights strongly and say, this person is doing Kyokushin. It is character that determines Kyokushin. Since in Japan every school has its own motto, Kyokushin trainings are made to “not to give up the fight”. You fall on the floor, get up and continue. This is Kyokushin, this is the character.
In conclusion, I would like to know about the plans for the future. What is going to happen with the organization in the near future?
For the future … run the project we are engaged in at the moment and to do training. And follow the technical character of Kyokushin. Because there are a lot of things that are missing, we need to arrange fights. But for the future, I plan to teach it from the very beginning to reach the level where I am now. This idea means who I can become or, on the contrary, what can destroy us.
Where Kyokushin originates and where we are now. I think that hen we want to go faster than we should. We can lose the base, and the base is very important in Kyokushin.
We concentrate on fast movements, but we don’t think about the meaning. We need to return this idea, connect it with the character. The strike must be out of the fight. Now we focus on sports topics, because young people need it. This is exactly what I want to do with the help of other teachers: to return to the general character. To understand what exactly character includes, only a sporting aspect, or both the skill and what is inside us. We didn’t pay much attention to these topics. We should remember not only about the physical aspect, but also about the spiritual, we are planning it for the future, the coming year.
Kancho, thank you for your time, I hope that this is not our last interview and we will discuss these topics in detail.
Well, we will tell you what our future way is going to be, because it is created step by step and maybe we will be in another place. OSU!
Thanks for the help Shihan Daniel Sanchez, Guillem Matas Garcia, Nastasia Iavorskaya.
📸Roman Odessky @roman.odessky
Photographing kyokushin events (tournament, camp, seminar)