Kyokugen Karate (Japanese: 極限流空手, Utmost' Limit Style Empty Hand) is a fictitious fighting style employed by several characters in the Art of Fighting and The King of Fighters games produced by SNK Playmore.
Takuma, after fighting several opponents and reading their moves, eventually devised the style from his years of fighting. It allows the user to polish and refine their strengths into a perfect combative technique. While called "karate", it is actually a free-form mixed martial art that roughly employs principles from the Sanchin and Saifa styles. Ideally, a user can excel at both offensive and defensive movements, making them an all-powerful being of strength. The style encourages the users to use their "ki" to extend throughout their body and precisely concentrate the force into their strikes, creating a powerful result with enough practice.
In the Art of Fighting series, Kyokugen Karate is described as a deadly martial art that can only be taught with a mind that focuses on self-defense. It therefore limits the amount of users for the more advanced techniques, as Takuma needs to hand select his disciples.
The King of Fighters series notes that Kyokugen Karate has a dojo chain. Takuma and his family gain plenty of students due to the publicity they gain from participating in the tournaments. But he (and sometimes Ryo) have every hopeful student immediately undergo rigorous and pain-staking training, even for simple moves and manners of defense. For example, Takuma considers 500 sit-ups to be a normal warm up for beginners. Takuma also makes soba (wheat noodles) at an impossible rate for his students, making them sick of them rather quickly. His inability to change his training regime causes the dojos to lose students quickly, putting the family business into jeopardy various times in the series.
There are at least four known dojos. The main and first dojo founded by Takuma is in Southtown. Dojos are also established in Mexico and Japan, though they are only known to exist in dream matches and alternate realities. Marco Rodriguez eventually becomes the teacher of a dojo in Brazil.
Signature attacks of the form include the Kou'ou Ken (either as a ki projectile, invisible ki blast, or an ki-infused palm), Kohou (a jumping uppercut with either the front or back hand, depending on the practitioner), Hien Shipuu Kyaku (either a twisting, forward-moving kick or a horizontal flying kick with a follow-up), Zanretsuken (a flurry of punches with the forehand at lightning-fast speed), Haou Shokouken (a massive ki projectile that is the height of the upper body), and Ryuuko Ranbu (a kata that has the user dash at the opponent before going into a barrage of punches and kicks, ending with a Kohou or series of Haou Shokoukens). The individual practitioners also have their own specialized attacks, such as Robert's Gei'ei Kyaku (a series of high-speed kicks) or Ryo's Tenchi Haou Ken (a massive chamber punch to the midsection that can instantly cause an opponent to become dazed).
By order of seniority of Kyokugenryu Karate:
- Takuma Sakazaki, the founder
- Ryo Sakazaki, the teacher and future successor
- Robert Garcia, disciple and the first known foreign practitioner
- Yuri Sakazaki, disciple and the first known female practitioner
- Khushnood Butt, teacher of Brazil division and student of Ryo Sakazaki
As a side note, three other known disciples of the technique are protagonists in the Days of Memories series. Sho Hayate's cameo appearance in the Kyokugen Dojo stage in KOF XIII could imply that he is either learning the style or is just an acquaintance of the Kyokugen practitioners.
It is also implied in one of Khushnood's official images in Garou: Mark of the Wolves (the one used in this article) that Ryuhaku Todoh has joined the Kyokugenryu dojo. If this is canon is unknown, but the fact that other practitioners include Bruce Lee and Dan Hibiki (from the Street Fighter series) lookalikes may mean that the picture is a joke. The picture itself is a reference to the poster of Bruce Lee's movie Enter the Dragon.