According to the official website, Ashihara International Karate Organisation (AIKO) is one of the full-contact system, emphasizing realistic combat, physical toughness, and practicality in its training curriculum. AIKO is presently known as a strong form of karate, with a strong desire in evolution and open minded approach. In different competitive formats, AIKO has proven successful not only in knockdown karate, but also in K1 and conventional kickboxing with many achieving success in the Glory World Series. To tell us more about AIKO, Shihan Dave Jonkers (7th Dan) answered our questions.

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AK MASTERS: – How does AIKO differ from other similar organizations and what are the basic principles?
DAVE JONKERS: – I don’t think we’re very different from other organizations; all we want is to spread out our system and build up a strong bound between Budo practitioners and improve the quality of our Ashihara International Karate, without bound to traditional styles or methods. We’re adapting and improving new approaches. Personally, I have worked hard to develop a group of instructors who have developed their own levels of knowledge and experience in the AIKO. Everything you do, has a reason. Everything you teach, could and should be argued. Analyse, then try and criticize and accept, change or improve. As a teacher, I still have in the history and in the methods / systems in karate. However, I personally see the sports development as being a priority over these traditions, cultures and hierarchical systems. In order to do this, we have developed over the years a “fresh start” approach, with a re-design and simplification of many technical approaches within which we will focus on effectiveness in both technical training as well as having a competition orientated approach.

– AIKO includes members from several countries. How difficult is homogenization given the cultural characteristics of each?
– Involved in Budo more than 45 years and travelling all over the world, I experienced many cultures. Sports provide people with opportunities for social interaction through which they can develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for their full participation in civil society. Also worldwide. Sports is in particular an important tool to bring people together. Sports can help to overcome difference and encourages dialogue, and thereby helps to break down prejudice, stereotypes, cultural differences, ignorance, intolerance and discrimination. I believe in that and use this approach to connect people. Respect is a basic belief that constitutes anyone, regardless of origin or belief. If that’s missing, someone does not fit into our organization. Next to that we use our etiquette in karate to form a basic attitude for all students and instructors which is universal.

– What influence the club presidents have in deciding the AIKO’s strategy worldwide?
– Every Branch chief or instructor is involved in all the facets of the organization, participates in the organization and the development of how the organization in his country best suits in the AIKO. So we have an open minded organization.

– I’ve noticed in the black belt list from your website some people who were members of NIKO not long time ago. What were the reasons they’ve decided to change the organization?
– That’s not a question to ask me. For myself, I don’t really like some things in the world of martial arts, which means in general: all splits in organizations, too big egos, all kind of titles, macho behavior and personal conflicts. But also the commercial side of some organizations in which the business reality with money playing the leading role. So, that might explain the fact that I choose my own way, supported by those who have the same ideas of practicing karate executed from these factors.

– What is AIKO’s global development strategy? How do you see the organization in the coming years? What has been done and what should be improved?
– Ashihara International Karate has experienced its ups and downs, and its own fair share of successes and failures. All of this has now led to a new era, where the AIKO as a body of experienced and newer instructors will aim to deliver a new generation in Ashihara-Karate. The improvement will be won by the people who are hard working now to promote our style and have the qualities to make a positive contribution to the development of the AIKO. Our organization will play an even greater role in the martial arts world in the coming years. We have qualified and inspired people in AIKO with a strong organizational talent to develop us into an accessible, honest Budo style, stripped of the negative issues that I mentioned earlier. My motivation for Budo has been to be involved in something that I though would have a significant impact on the martial arts world. So far I managed to do that.

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