50th Anniversary


Interview with Shihan Jan Bülow

50th Anniversary of Danish Karate Union


2017 is an exciting year for the Danish Karate Union as it marks the 50th anniversary of Kyokushin karate in Denmark. Furthermore, it is the third time that Denmark hosts the European Championship, which highlights the many great achievements by the karatekas from different clubs of the Danish Karate Union.

50 years is a long time. With a history dating back to the late sixties, the Danish Karate Union has been a part of Danish society through the swinging sixties and onwards. But what is the core of the Kyokushin experience in Denmark? We sat down for at talk with Branch Chief and Country Representative Shihan Jan Bülow.


In a Historical Perspective

“For Danish martial arts, the year 1967 meant that a whole new player emerged on the karate scene. Until then, most karate schools were limited to partial contact, but that changed with the introduction of Sosai Masutatsu Oyama’s teachings,” Shihan Jan Bülow explains. “Here was a form of karate that practiced full contact with discipline, strength, stamina and courage, and it found a stronghold among Danish practitioners”.


In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Danes flocked to the dojos in Denmark, and at one point Denmark could boast one of the highest member counts in the world of Kyokushin.


“Following the appearance of Bruce Lee’s kung fu movies and American karate movies, we saw a pilgrimage to the Danish Kyokushin dojos that defied our every expectation,” recalls Shihan Jan Bülow. “It was wild and it was fun, but ultimately it was also a bit too much. A lot of the people who came to train weren’t interested in Oyama’s teachings, but were more interested in the hype of the movies. It was very unlike how it is today. In the Danish Karate Union we feel a genuine interest, among both young and old karatekas, in studying karate as a way of life.”


"Discipline, stamina, strength, but also the value of selfworth and respect for others are among the teachings today"

Shihan Jan Bülow

Championships and Great Achievements

“In the mid 80’s, we started hosting the Danish Open Tournament, where we invited fighters from all over Europe to the Danish competition,” Shihan Jan Bülow says. “The successful execution of these tournaments gave us the chance to host the European Championship not only once or twice, but now in 2017 for the third time. This makes us feel very proud and honored .”


Even though Denmark is a small country with a population of only 5 million people, the Danish karatekas have made a mark on the global and European scene of competition karate throughout the years. Both in kata and in kumite, several of the Danish karatekas have been noted as excellent role models of the karate spirit.


“The year 2011 turned out to be one of the best for the Danish National Team,” Shihan Jan Bülow states. “That year Sensei Christina Petersen won the European Championship in Kata, while Brian Jacobsen fought his way to 5th place in the World Cup. The best result yet for a Dane."

"The aim is to host a European Championship in a way that rivals the best and finest in Europe, thereby inspiring the spectators and martial artists from all over the world."

Today and in the Future

“Kyokushinkai schools today have undergone an exciting evolution from how it was 50 years ago. Although the world of martial arts has seen an emerging MMA scene, Danish Karate Union still retains both young and old,” Shihan Jan Bülow explains. “The affiliated clubs of the Danish Karate Union work tirelessly to show the young people all the benefits of Sosai Masutatsu Oyama’s karate. Discipline, stamina, strength, but also the value of self-worth and respect for others are among the teachings today.“


With 50 years of karate history to look back on, the Danish Karate Union is ready to present the fighters of today and tomorrow in Roskilde in 2017. The aim is to host a European Championship in a way that rivals the best and finest in Europe, thereby inspiring the spectators and martial artists from all over the world.


“In today’s society, where young and old bend their necks to tablets and iPhones, we aim to teach them to look up, correct their slouching stance and work their body to a steel hard strength. For the youth of today, this an invaluable gift that many will benefit from in the years to come. As Sosai said, this is the Strongest Karate, and we agree,” ends Shihan Jan Bülow.


by Anders Øhrberg Thrane, December 02, 2016



The first Kyokushinkai Karate School opens in Denmark



Sosai Masutatsu Oyama visits Denmark



At its peak, Denmark has about 4500 practicing karatekas in Kyokushinkai schools around the country



Around 3000 people participate in a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Kyokushin Karate



The first Danish Open takes place. The tournament has been a yearly tradition ever since (except the years where the Danish Karate Union has been the host of the European Championship).



Summer Camp at Søværnets Eksercerskole in Avderød. Guest instructor: Andy Hug.



Masutatsu Oyama dies the 26th of April. Shihan Jan Bülow is appointed Branch Chief and Country Representative in Denmark.


Denmark is host to the European Karate Championship. This is the first time the championship is held in Denmark.



Shihan Midori becomes the new President of WKO



Denmark hosts its second European Karate Championship.



Sensei Christina Petersen becomes European Champion in Kata. Senpai Brian Jacobsen fights his way to 5th place at the World Cup.



Summer Camp at Vejen Idrætscenter with guest instructor Norichika Tsukamoto, World Champion. First time we have black belt grading at the summer camp.



Denmark is the host of the European Karate Championship 2017.


Roskilde Kongrescenter Bauhaus Arena | April 8th - 9th 2017 | Contact: info@ec2017.com