Instructor, Dojo and Context

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Sensei Ligo and a Seismic Shift at Ligo Dojo

At 46 and against all odds, Sensei Ligo took 6th place in Kyokushin-kan’s World Open Kata Tournament in Japan in May of 2017. At the same time the adult student body at Ligo Dojo (Martial Arts in Chapel Hill) reached a level of maturity (in training) that has facilitated a seismic shift. A dojo, in its purest sense, is a place where an instructor develops his/her art, and those students who can show their determination, and follow along. The instructor, moved by the students’ determination, then gives his/her students the best that he has to offer. For the three years prior to the World Tournament, and in the year that followed, Sensei Ligo has been re-prioritizing to focus on the development of his own art, while applying gentle pressure on his students to follow in a way that benefits them the most, i.e. with some independent initiative. The creation of the Triangle Bushido Club is greatest step forward thus far in this seismic shift underway.  

A Native of Chapel Hill, Sensei Ligo has practiced Kyokushin Karate for 34 years. As well as being Branch Chief for the Kyokushin-kan International Karate Organization in the Triangle Area, he is National Technical Advisor for the Kyokushin-kan organization in the U.S.A., and he regularly takes students with him for training opportunities in Japan. Sensei Ligo is a graduate of Davidson College in NC, and the only American to hold a certificate from Mas Oyama’s legendary uchi deshi (residential student) program in Tokyo, where he was a personal student of Mas Oyama in 1990 and 1991.  Since joining Kyokushin-kan nearly 15 years ago, Sensei Ligo has traveled overseas over 40 times, mostly to Japan, to attend seminars held by a handful of the world’s best instructors. 

Under the leadership of Kancho (Chairman) Hatsuo Royama in Japan, the Kyokushin-kan Organization has been steadily re-introducing elements of martial arts beyond those generally associated with “modern” Kyokushin Karate. The purpose of these efforts is to return Kyokushin to its roots in which the real life-and-death struggle of self-defense is at its core, rather than only tournament fighting with its inevitable sports rules. KOBUDO (traditional Japanese Defensive Weapons Training), DEFENSE from Face/Head punches, IKKEN (“ki” energy training), and KATA and its Application (BUNKAI) is the basic list of these “new” elements. Sensei Ligo, currently also adding IAIDO (the Art of Japanese sword drawing and cutting) to this list under the guidance of Kyokushin-kan instructors in Japan who have also mastered Iaido, has become the authority for this “new” material in the U.S., and the Ligo Dojo Budo Club has been his vehicle for developing these supplemental arts. Now, with the creation of the Triangle Bushido Club, we come full circle, and allow new students, for the first time, to approach their study of Kyokushin with these arts as their foundation.


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Sensei Ligo (above, left) took 6th place in Kyokushin-kan’s World Open Karate Tournament in Japan in May of 2017. A video clip of one of his kata can be seen below.
Kyokushin Karate is a full-contact style. Below Sensei Ligo Breaks 3 wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bats with his unprotected shin.