John Taylor

It’s been a long journey, but but an enjoyable one

John Taylor

One of the highest-ranked Karate practitioners in Australia, John Taylor was at the forefront of Kyokushin development in Australia. He was one of the first uchi-deshi (live-in students) of Mas Oyama.

John Taylor was born on 7 June 1941. He emigrated to Australia in 1963 and settled in Burwood, a suburb of Sydney. He eventually established a hairdressing business in the city.

Taylor began practising Kyokushin Karate in 1963, training under Paul Harris. He had previously practised boxing and Judo.

By 1966, Taylor had been practising Karate for almost 3 years. That year he was promoted to 1st Dan by Ivan Zavetchanos, an early practitioner of Karate in Australia.

In 1967, Shigeru Kato arrived in Australia. He had been sent from Japan for a year to teach Kyokushin Karate in Sydney and Melbourne.

In 1968, the South Pacific Kyokushin Organisation was established under the chairmanship of Ivan Zavetchanos.

Taylor opened a dojo in Sydney in 1968. That year he also helped to organise the first full-contact championships in Australia, against New Zealand. He was part of the winning Australian team.

In 1969 Taylor was promoted to 2nd Dan.

New Zealander, John Jarvis, took over the chairmanship of the South Pacific Kyokushin Organisation in 1970.

Taylor travelled to Japan in 1970. He trained at the Kyokushin Hombu in Tokyo. The training was hard, especially for foreigners. As a stranger, he was constantly tested.

Taylor trained as an uchi-deshi (live-in student) for 395 days. The late 1960s and early 1970s have been described as the golden age of training at the hombu. Some of the people training at this time included Teruto Yamaki, Daigo Oishi, Hatsuo Royama, and Takeshi Azuma.

In 1971 Taylor returned to Australia. By this time he had been promoted to 3rd Dan.

Taylor returned to Japan in 1974. Peter Wolfe accompanied him. He was promoted to 4th Dan.

In 1974 the AKKA (Australian Kyokushin Karate Association) was established. The founding members were Taylor, Gary Viccars, Brian Ellison, Grant Radonich, Peter Wolfe, and Trevor Field.

The following year Taylor was a founding member of the Federation of Australian Karate-Do (FAKO), now known as the Australian Karate Federation. The federation was a government-sponsored group. He was elected President of the New South Wales branch.

On 20 March 1977, Taylor organised the 1st Australian Open Knockdown Championships. The event was held at the Sydney Town Hall. It was the first knockdown tournament held anywhere in Australia. Mas Oyama made his first visit to Australia and attended the tournament. Daigo Oishi and Takeshi Azuma accompanied him. The event was won by Nikola Cujic.

In 1978, Taylor was promoted to 5th Dan.

Taylor was appointed the Chairman of the South Pacific Kyokushin Organisation in 1979.

In 1980, Taylor established the Kyokushin Karate Bondi Junction Club.

Oyama returned to Australia in 1980. He was the guest of honour at the Australian Kyokushin Open Full-Contact Championships. The tournament was held on the Gold Coast. During the tournament, Taylor became the first person in Australia to break a baseball bat with his shin.

In 1982 Dolph Lundgren arrived in Australia to study for a Master’s degree, in Chemical Engineering at Sydney University. He started a Kyokushin Karate club at the University. He also trained with Taylor and Nikola Cujic. At the time Taylor was one of the highest-ranked Kyokushin practitioners in Australia.

As the Chairman of the South Pacific Kyokushin Organisation, Taylor travelled to Taupo, New Zealand in 1982. He established the New Zealand Kyokushin Karate Organisation.

Taylor was promoted to 6th Dan in 1982. Four years later he was promoted to 7th Dan.

In 1988 the AKKA organised the 1st Kyokushin Commonwealth Championships. It was held at the Sydney Townhall in Australia. The Championships was organised as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. 15 Commonwealth countries participated in the tournament. Mas Oyama attended the event.

Taylor made his acting debut in 1989. He appeared in the film, The Punisher, starring Dolph Lundgren. Former Kyokushin World Champion, Kenji Yamaki, also appeared in the film.

On 26 April 1994, Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate, died in Tokyo, Japan.

Following Oyama’s, death, the IKO (International Karate Organisation) split into several factions. The AKKA aligned themselves with the IKO-3. This faction would eventually become the IKO Matsushima.

In 1995 Taylor became a martial arts columnist for the Eastern Suburbs Newspaper.

Taylor established the International Ring Karate Association in 1997. He was appointed International President.

On 17 November 1997, Taylor was elected Vice President of the IKO-Matsushima. He was responsible for all areas outside of Japan.

In 2000 Taylor was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his achievements in sports.

Taylor’s student, Naomi Ali, became the first woman to complete the 50-Man Kumite Challenge. She had been his student since she started training with him at the Bondi Junction Club as a blue belt. She would go on to become a 3-time World Champion.

On 4 July 2004, Naomi Ali became the first woman to complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. The Challenge was adjudicated by Gary Viccars. Ali’s 100th fight in the Challenge was against Taylor.

In 2004 Taylor was nominated for the Australian of the Year award.

In 2007 Taylor was promoted to 9th Dan by Yoshikazu Matsushima. He had previously been awarded his 8th Dan by Mas Oyama.

Taylor’s love for Kyokushin Karate did not diminish as he got older. He continued to teach at his Bondi Junction Club into his eighties.

John Taylor died on 27 September 2023, aged 82, surrounded by his family. A funeral service was held on 13 October at the Mary Immaculate Church. This was followed by a burial service at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

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    • Anonymous on July 7, 2024 at 2:32 am
    • Reply

    hi. i was in an international open tournament in Town Hall Sydney around the 70’s i think. it was open to all styles. i entered alone under Kempo ( Ton Slaven Sensi). i was runner up in my division and received a trophy. i lost it in a house fire and was wondering if there are any records relating to this event and winners? my name is Martin Bonnici and fought under Kempo banner.

    • Anonymous on July 7, 2024 at 2:33 am
    • Reply

    re last enquiry about town hall comp. my email address is

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