This is taking from Shihan Collins book, The Absolute Karate
(Applications of Kyokushin). Original story was written by Shihan Mikael Söderkvist.
Sosai Oyama was born with the name Hyung Yee Choi on July 27, 1923 in the village of Wa-Ryongri Yong-chi-myonchul Na Do. Near the town Kinje not far from Gunsan in the south-west of Korea. The village is close to the Yellow sea which for centuries was occupied by Chinese and Japanese pirates. Who were known for there ravaging along the coastline.
Young Hyung Yee was one of the lucky few in the province of Cholapuk Do, belonging to the Yangban-clan his family was aristocratic. The father, Sun Hyang like Hyung Yee and his three brothers were all unusually powerfully built. The family who was quite wealthy had a large country-estate and his father was also the mayor of Kinje. The road to Yongee Primary School was dirty and narrow and Hyung Yee had to like the other children walk the ten kilometers to school. His class containing 60 pupils in a school with a total of 400 pupils. At age 13 he moved to his aunt in Seoul to attend Junior High School. Back up
Chabee, part 2
Hyung Yee was not really interested in his schoolwork. He enjoyed more being outdoors, fishing and swimming with his friends. The one thing that interested him the most was athletics. He participated in football as well as cross-country running. Even though he failed to show any kind of interest when his brothers tried to teach him boxing, he preferred a martial art named Chabee. From the age of nine he started to train Chabee and rarely missed a training opportunity.
Chabee came from the Koryo-period (912-1392). Before the Koryo-period, the Korean peninsula was unionized by the royalty Silla. The fighting techniques used at the end of the Silla-era was a mixture of Chinese and Korean martial arts, favored on Chinese hand techniques. It was very different from the old Korean martial arts which had contained a lot of head-, elbow- and foot-techniques. During the koryo-era the Korean peninsula blossomed, materially, as well as culturally. It was also during this time the so called eighteen-techniques developed. Later a system named the thirty-six-techniques was developed and finally both these systems became Chabee. Back up
The idol, part 3
Hyung Yee´s first idol was a Shirum wrestler. Shirum is the Korean form of the Japanese sumo wrestling. Every summer at harvest time a harvest celebration was held and the peak of the celebration was the big Shirum tournament. A lot of wrestlers came for the tournament and especially from the northern parts. Many strong harvest men came to test their strength against the men from the neighborhood. During several years a forceful man from the south had dominated the tournament completely.
He became the idol for young Hyung Yee and Hyung Yee followed him everywhere during the festivities, that was also a part of the celebration. When the strong wrestler from the south had once again won the tournament, he challenged anyone to wrestled with him. When nobody accepted his challenge he asked again, but this time in a very arrogant and insulting voice, if there wasn't anybody who dared to meet him. Then a small, thin forty years old man from northern Korea stept forward. Hyung Yee knew who he was, since he had worked for his father at the family estate. Hyung Yee also knew that the man was an honest man and his name was Yi.
Yi had told Hyung Yee a lot of stories about the land in the North. No one, not even Hyung Yee thought Yi would have a chance against the winner of the tournament. The wrestler thought it would be a quick and easy win and rushed forward towards the thin man, only to be met by a powerful blow in the face. The punch knocked him down and after being knocked down several times, the wrestler had to give up and was transported to the hospital near by. Hyung Yee now had himself a new idol and maybe the event affected him later in life, though Hyung Yee was to be known as someone who wouldn't say no to a challenge. Hyung Yee tried to persuade Yi to teach him Chabee and succeed after some time. A new world opened up and during two years Hyung Yee was trained by Yi, until his contract at the farm ran out.
Hyung Yee was of course very disappointed of losing his trainer but at the same time proud and presumptuous. Without Yi´s tutoring Hyung Yee continued being a restless child. As Hyung Yee was much bigger than children his own age he often had to help his friends in difficulties, such as fights. Sometimes the opponents were up to three years older, his friends named him "The Little Patron".
His restlessness and sometimes recklessness sometimes showed in his naive interest in the girls at school. Once by mistake he happened to slightly hit the prettiest girl in school with a rock during a game. When the girl protested he promptly lifted her up in his arms in a huge hug. At this time behavior was unthinkable and when his father found out what he had done, he got severally punished. Hyung Yee then decided never to give his father a reason to punish him again. Hyung Yee was immensely embarrassed and for a long time he would remember the event. But Hyung Yee´s ability to find trouble continued even in Seoul, where he moved as a thirteen-year old to begin Junior High School. His usual calm father reacted very strongly on his son's wild behavior and so did the police. Maybe that was the reason Hyung Yee decided to leave his country after graduation and move to Japan. Back up
Pilot dreams, part 4
The year was 1938 and Hyung Yee was fifteen years old. Japan was at war with China and had started their second big offensive. Korea was subjected to Japan since 1910. The Japanese had during almost 30 years made forceful attempts to destroy the Korean national characteristics. Japanese was taught in school, (still most of the older population in Korea are able to speak Japanese) names were changed according to Japanese customs and the Japanese ruled the administration. Many of the youth saw Japan as the leading country, while others, especially in the northern parts fought with demonstrations and wars.
Like many young people Hyung Yee dreamt of being a pilot, like Shin, Korea's first native fighter pilot during the Sino-Japanese war. Shin was the hero of many Korean men and also of the teenager Hyung Yee. He went by himself to Japan. If he left by his own initiative or if he was sent away is still unknown, but he definitively needed the change. His flying carrier begun with an acceptance at the Yamanashi Youth Aviation Institute. The school was a military academy for young boys which was located Southwest of Tokyo in the Yamanashi District. Here he studied as a flight engine mechanic. He left the school abruptly for unknown reasons after a couple of years without graduation. Back up
A new name, part 5
Suddenly the security was gone. Hyung Yee was now all alone and without a place to stay in the inferno of the big city of Tokyo. He went from boarding-house to boarding-house without being able to rent a room. Lost, exhausted and with huge feelings of homesickness he realized that he was an unwanted Korean in an alien country. But at this moment of defeat he pulled himself together and made up his mind to succeed in another area, since it now wasn't possible for him to become a pilot. Hyung Yee has after this always had an open mind towards foreigners.
Finally Hyung Yee managed to rent a room with the Oyama family in the outskirts of Tokyo. They were also of Korean origin and took pity on their lost fellow country-man. The young Hyung Yee now changed his name to a Japanese name. This procedure was usual among the Korean immigrants in Japan. Maybe it was easier to be accepted in the conservative society of Japan. He chose the name Masutatsu Oyama from the family he lived with. The two sons of the family, Shigeru and Yasuhiko later became students of Oyama and have received high positions in the Kyokushin organization (Now Oyama Karate USA).
Masutatsu Oyama or Mas as his friends called him, begun at the Takuskoku university which is famous for it's participants of the Japanese martial arts. It was at this university that the karate style of Shotokan had it's strongest hold. Young Mas started with Judo and took up boxing again. One day by chance he witnessed a karate-training and became totally fascinated. It was a totally different atmosphere and the techniques varied from the ones he had experienced before. He sought the main dojo for Shotokan in Zoshigaya, close to Mejiro in the Toshima-ku district of Tokyo, to get the best instructor. The dojo was lead by Yoshitaka "Giko" Funakoshi, the second son of the legendary Gichin Funakoshi who introduced karate in Japan. Under the supervision of Giko, Oyama trained enthusiastically and daily for two years.
The isolation and loneliness he learned from being a foreigner made him more devoted to his training. To be able to finance his studies and to buy more and cheaper food which he needed for his training. He got a job as a milkman in the school's cafe. It was a tough life consisting work, studies and training from five in the morning until eight in the evening. The headmaster was very pleased with his work. The young Korean's feeling for neatness and cleanliness had always been very high he was almost pedantic. The cook was on the other hand not pleased when all his greased pans were neatly cleaned. Oyama stills tells his students in a 30-minute speech the importance of cleaning the bathrooms.
It was probably about this time, 1941-42, he met and started training with Nei- Chi So (Cho Hyung Ju). So was also Korean who came from the same province as Oyama. He taught the karate style of Goji-ryu and was one of Gogen Yamaguchi´s best students. The two of them soon became friends and Oyama trained for two years under So´s guidance. Oyama now with second Dan and at the age of seventeen or eighteen, left the Shotokan style probably for strictly social reasons. Belonging to a discriminated minority he looked for an older Korean man to substitute for his father. Oyama always spoke very kindly of his time with the Shotokan and the impression he got from a true mentor, Funakoshi. Back up
Martial arts and religion, part 6
Despite his fame for an exceptional strength, Nei-Chu So was a great philosopher with a deep spiritual knowledge and an unusual strong character. His influence on Oyama was big and besides teaching him Goju-ryu karate, he consecrated him in the Nichiren sect (a Buddhist faith). Nichiren emphasized the fact that martial arts and the religious spiritual elevating was strongly combined. Mas Oyama was enlisted for military duty as ground staff at an airfield near Tokyo and had to interrupt his university studies. His ability to get in trouble followed him still. Oyama was arrested after knocking down an officer, but was found innocent, since the officer had provoked the incident. He is ordered to the Pacific Ocean but the war ends before he is transferred. Masutatsu Oyama now on his 22nd year and 4th Dan thanks to his devotion and hard training. Back up
The problems grow, part 7
It's 1945 and the war is over, Japan had sustained a smarting defeat with severe losses. Oyama was filled with equivocal patriotism partly because his native country Korea, which had been released from the Japanese grip, now suffered with disturbances between the North and the South. Partly because his new country Japan lost the war against the occupying power of USA and that irritated him even more. The war and the bombing of Tokyo had created an extreme need, where both necessities and money where missing. In this environment Oyama was drawn to less conscientious countrymen in dubious syndicates. With black-market transactions and protection blooming, they could live an extravagant life in the war ravaged Japan. But there was also agitation for a united Korea.
An action which was also working as a perfect undercover where for instance Oyama´s naive attitude was exploited. His collaboration with the gangster syndicates made the young Korean step in the wrong direction. The bad influence and the countless confrontations with American soldiers made Oyama´s judgment numb and he overreacted. Soldiers and sailors on leave naturally courted the Japanese women. It was more than once Oyama came to the women's rescue, when they had problems with too pressing admirers. He considered himself as the superman of the Orient- a protector of the good. A lot of the enlisted men discovered it wasn't that easy to get a hold of the powerful little Korean. It was only the MP's and the Japanese police, who barely managed to restrain him. It was more than one American who said: -It's lucky Japan haven't got more of his kind or we would have lost the war. Back up
Big dreams, part 8
His behavior was traceable to his childhood. In his slightly naive attitude to protect the weaker something always goes wrong and without control. Already in Korea Oyama had big dreams that he sometime would do something of importance. One of his heroes was the German cabinet minister Otto von Bismarck. To become a hero of the Orient was one of his bigger dreams when he came to Japan. But now the situation was completely different. Oyama continued his private crusade against the occupants. During the market days in the Omori district, it often happened that presumptuous American soldiers took merchandise without paying which a lot would regret.
Oyama strolled around in the neighborhood late in the evening and intervened with delight when a row started by a stall. He wasn't alarmed even though the soldiers were armed. He was too fast for them and already then was his strength enormous, which meant he won most of the fights. But he couldn't get rid of his listlessness and his double-nature patriotism, regardless how many fights he won. The feeling of failure troubled him more than anything. Probably his bad relationship with his father was now showing and Oyama had high demands to be successful. He wanted to be Somebody. Finally the army of occupation had had enough of Oyama´s ravaging and he was thrown in jail. Back up
Arrested, part 9
After the massive bomb raids which reached it's climax with the two atom bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan was forced to a complete and one-sided capitulation on August 15, 1945. The distress was huge in the fire-ravaged capitol of Tokyo. The shame was burdensome for the Japanese people. The young Korean Masutatsu Oyama was now living a life in despair. Not being able to succeed, to be Somebody and at the same time lose the war became almost intolerable for him. His company with less scrupulous syndicate and a political engagement in the Korean issue made the army attentive of him. He was constantly in trouble with American soldiers and competing syndicates, which at last got him arrested and in custody for 6 months. His father's words:" A brat like you will never succeed", constantly came into his thoughts and he once again blamed himself for the way his life had become. But at the same time a self-knowledge grew of what he was going to do with his life.
Despite the occupants prohibition against martial arts, Oyama had resumed his karate training with his friend and instructor Nei-Chu So. They trained in a dojo in the Koenji district. Nei-Chu So told his student seriously " I've taught you all I know and now you're stronger than me. Actually you're stronger than most men. If you keep living your life like this you will get in even more trouble and kill more men. You will end up in jail. My advice to you is this. Go to a temple and meditate upon what to do with your life. Back up
Sudden death, part 10
Oyama thought about his mentor's advice and realized he was right. He remembered an event which had a deep effect on him. A dance competition was arranged at the Sano hotel in Tokyo. The hotel was also used as accommodation for the American officers. During the evening a row started between Oyama and a tall Japanese. The Japanese was known for using a knife when in a fight. He was also suspected for several murders, but the police didn't have enough evidence for a conviction. The Japanese got excited and of course pulled a knife, while Oyama on the other hand was able to keep calm. Having waved the knife back and forth in front of him, the Japanese suddenly made an attack towards Oyama. Mas blocked and punched a tremendous powerful blow against the Japanese's head. The Japanese man was dead before he hit the floor.
There were plenty of witnesses and the court decided Oyama had been provoked and had used self-defense to protect himself and was not convicted. Mas on the other hand thought this was a very tragic event and affected him deeply. Beating somebody in a man-to-man fight was one thing, but killing somebody was completely different. It later showed that the gangster had a wife and children in the outskirts of Tokyo. They actually looked Mas up and accusingly demanded their dead husband and father back, this almost made Oyama give up his martial arts training. When he started having nightmares of the tragic event and the widow's difficult situation, he went to her house in the Kanto district offered to help them by working on the farm. Not until the widow swore the would manage did he return to Tokyo. Back up
The turning point, part 11
Remembering this and his dark thoughts in jail, he knew Nei-Chu So was right. He had to choose a way in life and a better control of his enormous strength. The choice was to give karate a chance to control his life and it was also a way to a better self-control. Nei-Chu So said further: -"You better go away. Seek comfort in nature. Find a mountain hut and train your body and soul. After three years you will have created something immeasurable, as the saying goes :"Strike while the iron is hot". Train your body while you are a young man and you could be a great man". Especially the last words pleased the now twenty-three-year old Oyama. Finding out what karate could give him was a goal, a real goal, which he had lacked for long time.
Karate wasn't just fascinating training and a way to get stronger, but also a way to see how far he could develop as a person, his training methods and techniques and a way to spread and build up karate. With Nei-Chu So's words he not only understood that karate was going to give him physical strength, but also mental strength and the goal he needed in life. The road towards it was long and demanded hard work, but now Oyama was prepared to give anything to his new vision. m m
Already in the autumn of 1946, Oyama tried to start his own dojo, Eiwa-Karate-Do-Institute in Sugami, close to Tokyo. It was also close to Nei-Chu So's dojo in Koenjji, but had to closed in a couple of months. Maybe because the general martial arts prohibition by the Americans or maybe because of Oyama's jail record. Oyama visited also Eiji Yoshikawa and Shiro Okazi for serious Buddhist studies. Both men are famous authors and historians. Yoshikawa has written Japan' probably most well-known novel "Musashi". This book is about the famous 17th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi's adventures. That book is Oyama absolute favorite and a great inspiration for him from which he still quotes. Oyama did everything to torn himself in his solitude with a very strict life.
Both Nei-Chu So's advice and Oyama's decision to leave Tokyo at this time had also another reason. He had too many enemies, who wanted to get back at him. In the Yamanshi district, south-west of Tokyo is the mountain Minobu. It' in the same area as the flight academy, where Oyama attended as a 15-year old when he first came to Japan. It was at Minobu that the samurai Miyamoto Musashi in the 17th century got his inspiration for his famous double sword technique, Nito Ryu. At the Buddhist temple, on the mountain slope, Oyama's arrival was prepared. He was given strict duties together with his training , such as chopping wood, carrying water etc. But Oyama soon felt there was too little time for training and returned to Tokyo after three months.
Shortly after his arrival in Tokyo 1947, he participated in the first post-war championships in karate "The All Japan Championships Tournament". The same year the occupants had released their ban on karate. The tournament was held in Kyoto at the Maruyama High School and the winner was Mas Oyama. The year after Oyama married Chiyako Fujimaki, a girl he met two years earlier. Chiyako was a tall, slender woman, whom supposed to have won the beauty competition "Miss Tokyo" in her youth. They soon had their first child-a girl. There was going to be a total of three children, all girls, to Oyama's disappointment, but he have also loved his children sincerely, even though his longed for a son, who could be his heir.
Of his three daughters, only one has shown devotion for karate. The other two didn't have their fathers big interest for karate and his life work. Oyama had a sponsor the same year, a politician, a liberal named Senchichiro Ozawa. Together they decided to take Nei-Chu's advice, one thousand days. 3 years of hard training in the mountains was planned for Oyama and Ozawa was financing the stay. To have a personal sponsor is quite common in Japan and still today some of the top fighters in Kyokushin have a personal sponsor. Back up
The hot iron is welding, part 12
Together with his student, Yashiro, Oyama went to the Kiyosomi mountain. Halfway up, at the 386 meter high mountain, they built a cabin at the tip of the Bonson peninsula in the Chiba district. The mountain was beautiful, covered with oak and maple trees and with a wonderful view over the Pacific Ocean. The location also had a spiritual value to Oyama. It was here that the Nichiren-sect was founded in April 28, 1253, by Nichiren Shonin. A Buddhist faith Nei Chu introduced to Oyama 5 years earlier. Nichiren Shonin was a student to Dozen Oshu at the age of 12.
After 20 years of hard and trying exercises Shonin declared his new faith being born on the top of Kiyosomi. He named it Hokke-Shu. The temple Seijoji is still today at the same place where Nichiren used to meditate and it was also the place where Oyama chose his ascetic residence. The cabin lacked electricity as well as water and gas. There was no access to newspaper or radio either. Oyama and his student brought, the Musashi collection of novels by Yoshikawa. They also had a spear, a sword, a rifle and some kitchen utensils. Maybe they also took some Buddhist writings. The beginning was hard physical training, but the isolated life in the mountain soon started to get at them.
The loneliness and the sounds from nature created a fear in them. They slept restlessly, had nightmares and longed for the conveyances of civilization. Despite that they hardened themselves during the beginning. Training started at 5 in the morning with running and then often with short rushes up the steep slopes. After followed makiwara training on a tree with every technique repeated a thousand times. In the afternoon they built their strength using rocks as weights, training on the sandbag and free fighting. Oyama handled the hard, primitive life but his student didn't . One night he ran away. Oyama was now completely on his own in his mountain cabin.
The salvation was when his friend Kayama came monthly with food and other necessities from the coast city of Tateyama. Oyama's sponsor sent a monthly cheque of 5 US dollars to pay for Oyama's living. The loneliness and uneasiness made Oyama to intensify his training. The running in the morning continued and then the basic physical training after breakfast. Afternoons were completely devoted to karate training. Oyama developed his now famous breaking-techniques. He also trained jump kicks over fast growing flax bushes, in that way he had to jump higher and higher the more the bushes grew. In the evening he meditated in zazen and read aloud from different Buddhist text. He used a circle, drawn on the wall to capture his thoughts during these contemplation's.
Oyama also played the bamboo flute and painted during these evenings. Already at this point he worked with the idea of using the circle and the point for his karate. It descended already from the 16th century, but he has later used the idea quite often to visualize his ideas of fighting. Oyama also had the intention to be strong enough to wrestle a bull with his bare hands. If it happened he knew he would be famous.
Finally Oyama couldn't stand the loneliness anymore and he started doubting his plans. The only one he could confide in was his friend and mentor Nei-Chu . Oyama wrote: -"In this civilized age I shouldn't need to use so primitive methods of training. If I could, my training would be more efficient in the city". After a month came the reply, which was of great importance to him. Oyama was deeply moved by the reply. He realized what he had to go through to form his character and self-control, to become the most powerful karateka in Japan. He shaved his head and eyebrows and his training had new inspiration.
At times when he started to doubt again he reread the letter, had energy from the book of Musashi and meditation. Now the results started to show from the rigorous training and he grew stronger every month, both mentally and physically. His self-confidence grew immensely when one evening he managed to break a stone in half, one he had tried before but failed. His hair grew long and so did his mustache and he had to shave his eyebrows three times before his stay in the mountain was over. Rumors were spread in the nearby villages that "Tengu", a Japanese troll, lived in the mountain. It was a long-haired Oyama they had seen. Back up
Back to the civilization, part 13
Despite the plans of three years residence in the mountains Oyama had to leave after 18 months, due to his pay cheques from his sponsor stop coming. Oyama's sponsor who had been in a political scandal was been questioned by the occupying USA authorities. Oyama decided to carry out his plans about bare-handed bull-wrestling. Now was the right time. He was filled with self-confidence, had a better control of himself and his enormous physical strength. Oyama started his slow descend towards civilization and town of Tateyama.
Oyama's inquiry for trying his strength on bulls wasn't at first taken seriously at the slaughter-house in Tatyama. After some persuasion he got the chance to try on a 450 kilo heavy bull. The first stroke, a fearful seiken, hit the fore-head of the bull, who ran amok with blood running from it's mouth and nose, but it wasn't killed. When the bull was slaughtered, it was discovered that the skull of the bull was broken. The butchers gave Oyama a second chance. This time the animal went down on it's knees, but that was all. A farmer suggested Oyama would break the horns off instead and after a few attempts he managed to knock them off.
The 26-year old Oyama was back in Tokyo in the beginning of 1950. His reputation increased when rumors spread about his enormous strength. Winner of the "All Japan Championships", his mountain training and the breaking of the bullhorns gave him more publicity. Now when he felt more mature and self-confident he began to work as a security-guard at the South Korean embassy. During 1951 Oyama also worked as an instructor at the US army bases in Zama, Fucho, Tachikawa, Yokohama, Yokozuka, Yokota and Tokorozawa. Kyokushin was taught on several bases until the mid 60's. Oyama took up his judo training again and began to practice his throw and grip techniques. He trained totally for 4 years in the Sone dojo, where he received 4th Dan. Back up
On tour in USA, part 14
In April, 1952 Mas Oyama and Kokichi Endo were invited by the Chicago Pro Wrestlers Ass. together with the Hawaiian pro wrestler Togo, to participate in a touring wrestling show. The show was a great success and a brilliant opportunity for Oyama to market the Japanese karate. After the opening night in Chicago the group visited 32 states in the USA and Canada; Cuba and Mexico. They were on TV 9 times and in several newsreels. They figured in newspapers like the Times, Life, Look, Boxing/Wrestling and Ring-True. Oyama fought 3 pro wrestlers in prize-fights, which he won. After 10 months and a bunch of shows Oyama returned to Japan, a famous man, since the Japanese press had followed the whole tour. His demonstrations of techniques and kata where never particularly attentive, while on the other hand his breaking techniques on wood and stone were a success. Unfortunately with this tour, the misunderstanding of karate which still exist today was born. Oyama based the demonstrations on Tameshiwari - to break bricks and stones. But Oyama wanted to convince the world of the power in karate. He realized the importance of what good publicity meant to the spreading of a message, something he would later go on using with perfection.
After Oyama's arrival in Japan, 1952 a friend and producer offered to film a fight between Oyama and a bull. The moment had finally come. Oyama realized he now had the chance to really make it, if he managed to win. If he won, his karate would be world famous. Now was the time to find out the results of the hard training. Oyama accepted the offer and a period of 3 months special training began. Oyama studied the bulls habits and above all, their weaknesses. He visited slaughter-houses to test his strikes against the horns on slaughtered bulls. To stand a chance against the bull Oyama knew he had to run 100m in at least 15, preferably 13 seconds, which meant he had to reduce his weight to 80 kilos. He also tested the persistence of the bulls by running alongside on the other side of the river. As a daily routine Oyama went up at four o'clock in the morning and ran 8 km, to and from the Hachiman temple. After breakfast he trained karate for two hours and an additional three hours in the afternoon. Back up
The gravity of the situation, part 15
In January, 1953 all preparations were completed, both for the 29 year old Oyama and the producers at the Shochiku Motion Pictures Co. The chosen place was at the beach along the Yawataa coast, close to the town of Tateyama. The bulls weighed 500 kilos, had 25 cm long horns, that were 7.5 cm thick at the base. When the fight began Oyama got a grip of the head and tried to pull the animal down, which failed, when the animal resisted.
Oyama's intention was to pull the animal to the ground and from there punch the horns off. Already after 5 minutes fight they both began to feel tired. Then the bull suddenly made an attack and Oyama fell on his back and got torn by the bulls horn. With a huge effort he stood up on his feet and managed to stop the bull's attack. Oyama then noticed that the bull was as tired as he was and he tried to punch the horns off standing up, which failed. He now realized he had to have the bulls head stiff to the ground if he was going to punch the horns off.
He then started a new 30 minute offensive, trying to tire the bull out. This time Oyama managed to wrestle the big bull to the ground and with his right hand punch the horns off. He had succeeded, not to kill the bull but to defeat it in a free fight and he felt extremely pleased with himself. He had shown what hard training and karate could achieve. He had shown self-control and at the same time created a name for himself, that was to become well known. His intention from childhood was now coming true. The fight lasted 34 minutes and unfortunately it's not known what became of the film. There are many statements of how many bulls Oyama defeated, but only 4 or 5 free fights against bulls are reported. On the other hand he experimented on dead bulls and managed to punch the horns off in 48 out of 52 cases. Oyama killed three bulls by twisting their necks. Back up
The knowledge is lead on, part 16
Oyama started a dojo outdoors in a park in Meijiro, a district of Tokyo. As first assistant he chose Kenji Mizushima. Oyama gathered his technique,experience and training methods. At the beginning the dojo had 300 members. Despite the primitive conditions, the interest among the students was high and there were many wanting to train. Oyama's many achievements presumably created this interest. The instructors increased with Eiji Yasuda, who together with Kenji Masushima assisted Oyama. At the same time Oyama attracted attention outside of Japan. He have had an offer from the American promoter named Bradshaw to tour with a show in USA and South America. Bradshaw was a middle-aged business man with his roots in the American car industry. He had seen one of Oyama's performances on TV and later got a chance of being trained by Oyama.
The tour attracted a lot of attention and Bradshaw began at once organizing the next tour. The tour had unfortunately an abrupt ending. After the opening night in Chicago before an enthusiastic audience, where Oyama demonstrated breaking techniques and wrestled with a bull on whom he punched both horns off, came immediate and heated criticism from the organization for protection of animals all over the country. The newspapers presented his achievements as well as the animal organizations respond on his methods. Bradshaw, who had been enthusiastic was now crushed when his plans were frustrated. The tour was broken off but Oyama had once again showed karate's and his skill and ability. Back up
The first dojo, part 17
Two years after the beginning of the outdoor dojo Oyama realized that he had to find a real dojo. He managed to find a place he shared with a ballet studio, just behind the Rikkyo university in Ikeburo, not far from the now existing Honbu dojo. Masami Ishibashi and Ken Minamoto began working for him. Eiji Yasuda and Masami Ishibashi are still part of the organization and both have 7th Dan. In the end of the 50's Oyama was often on long trips and Oyama's instructors then held the training. They had both prior experience from Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu and could complete and supply their knowledge in kata and technique training. Shihan Yuzo Goda, 7th Dan (with his own dojo in Tokyo today) began at this time his training with Oyama. He said, that all ideas were tested in practice to see if they would work or not.
Kumite was performed with full contact and there were many, who couldn't cope with that and stopped training. The free fighting and the hard physical training were two important parts of the training, unlike the more traditional karate, where technique training is the most important. The tough kumite training starts early in the students training, often without the basic training. Many pupils didn't have karate clothing, but used home made or judo clothing instead.
With a view of getting to learn more about Asian martial arts and of course, test his own ability Oyama went for a journey in south-east Asia. He went to Okinawa, Hong-Kong, Java and Thailand. In Hong-Kong Oyama had the opportunity to meet an older Chinese man, named Chin. Oyama described the old man with respect and admiration. Chin's techniques were moving in a circle and blocking attacks, which Oyama has propagated since then. They trained for a short time together. Already one week after leaving Hong-Kong Oyama was to test his new learnt techniques against a Thai boxer, whom earlier easily had defeated Japanese karate men. His opponent was called "The Black Cobra" and was the welter weight champion. In the first round Oyama had big problems with the Thai boxers fast kicks and blows. Finally he managed to use the Thai boxers kick and could attack with a couple of hard round kicks towards the body and with them settle the match. Oyama was the fist karate man ever to beat a Thai boxer.
Once again Oyama was to fight against a bull. It was on November 11, 1956, Oyama was put against the 600 kilo heavy bull, Raiden Go in Dennen Coliseum in Tokyo. The Japanese organization for protection of animals tried to stop the fight with the consequence that the Metropolitan Police Board prohibited Oyama to kill or punch the horns off the bull. Oyama protested and decided to do the show anyway. When they both were on the arena, the bull was terrified by the strong spotlights and the photographers flashes. After a few minutes Oyama could easily wrestle the paralyzed animal down on the floor. The audience had expected much more and was very disappointed and felt cheated. Oyama had to take the audience's criticism, for what it considered a poor achievement, but they didn't know all the facts. Back up
Kyokushinkai, part 18
The Kyokushin organization was born at a plain temple ceremony at the top of the Mitsumine-san mountain. The name Kyokushin can be translated as "The utmost association of truth". The three Kanji signs for this, was written in a special way by the master of Calligraphy, Haramotoki, and was embroided in blue on the left side of the jacket. The Zen monks way of mediating where putting their hands together towards the sky, with an opening between thumb and fore finger. This was named Kanku. For the first time Masutatsu's karate had a name and an organization. Shihan Bobby Lowe 8th Dan a Chinese American, who Oyama previous got to know in connection with the show on Hawaii, came to Tokyo for intensive training of the karate he had seen so powerfully demonstrated by Oyama. Lowe was helped by Oyama to set up the first Kyokushin dojo outside of Japan. Back up
Everything goes wrong, part 19
The year was 1957 and it was time for a new tour in the USA, Mexico and Europe. The shows in Mexico were a scandal, of complete darkness to Oyama. If the wood wasn't from an extremely tough tree species, then the bricks were intended for building of runways. Nothing broke when Oyama demonstrated his famous breaking techniques. At this time Kyokushin almost ended it's existence. Oyama was to wrestle a bull but couldn't get a good grip on it and it tossed him badly in the stomach. Oyama had to spent six months as a convalescent. That was the last of Oyama's bullfights. A few years later Oyama tried to realize his dream of a fight against a bear, with this in mind he left for Hokkaido, he soon saw how impossible the dream was and went home. Back up
What is karate, part 20
Due to all the trips and achievements Oyama had done, the demand for a book grew. Nishiyama from the Shotokan style had just published a book well worked through, but Oyama wasn't far behind. Together with Richard Kim and others, they published the book "What is Karate". It was to be a best-seller far beyond their wildest dreams. Up till 1976, the book had sold over 250 000 copies and was printed in three reworked editions.
Karate cannot stand still it has to develop, according to Oyama's writing in the book. In 1959 Oyama received an invitation to teach at the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC and at Westpoint Army School. With the help of former FBI agent Donald Buck, he started his second school outside Japan. The location was San Francisco. During the years until 1961 several teachers instructed at the main dojo in Tokyo, among these were, Yasuhiko Oyama, Tadashi Nakamura, Shigeo Kato and Akio Fujihara. Even Oyama instructed again on request of the members. Back up
Honour Shall Be Defended, part 21
In 1962 Thai boxers, Muay Tai challenged the Japanese karate elite, but without a response. Oyama felt his obligation to accept the challenge, despite most of the Japanese karate men were defeated. Oyama knew already, by experience, how difficult the task was and sent three of his absolutely best fighters to Thailand. With two out of three fights won, Kyokushin restored Japans reputation, Nakamura and Fujihara won their fights, while Kurosaki lost. Kurosaki later became a successful kick-boxing instructor in Japan. Nakamura was closest to Oyama until their friendship ended in 1977. Back up
The new honbu dojo, part 22
The old ballet studio was soon too small and a new Honbu dojo was planned in 1962. It took two years for the move to the new dojo. Kyokushin's new dojo had four floors, the changing rooms were located in the basement, the reception and the small dojo were on the ground floor and the big dojo on the first floor. On the second floor were offices and at the top of the building were accommodation. At the end of the 70's this dojo was too small and a new one is in the planning stage, but due to the expensive prices of land in Tokyo, the project will be delayed. At the same time as the opening of the Honbu dojo in 1964, the International Karate Organization was formed. As president Eisaku Sato was chosen and vice president was Matshuhei Mori and the choice as director was Masutatsu Oyama. When Sato later became prime minister of Japan in 1966, Mori had to take over as the president of IKO and Hideo Shiotsugo became vice president. They kept their positions until Mori died in 1985. At that time Oyama's position was changed to Sosai, leader of the organization. Now participants all over the world joined up in a lifetime membership. Back up
100 men kumite, part 23
Oyama's idea of the utmost test, was meeting one hundred opponents in a row. He got the idea from a Samurai, Yamaoka Tesshu a great swordsman.
So far only the following have passed the test in Japan.
Steve Arniel, 7 Dan, 1965 , England
Tadashi Nakamura, 7 Dan, 1965, Japan
Shigeru Oyama, 7 Dan, 1966, Japan
Loek Hollander, 7 Dan, 1967, Holland
John Jarvis, 4 Dan, 1967, New Zealand
Howard Collins, 7 Dan, 1972, Wales
Miyuki Miura, 4 Dan, 1973, Japan
Akiyoshi Matsui, 4 Dan, 1987, Japan
Kaiji Sampei, 4 Dan, 1989, Japan Back up
Successful marketing, part 24
Oyama realized early the value of having good connections with the media. The one who helped Kyokushin was the publisher and author, Ikki Kaijiwara. Unfortunately he used his own ideas a little bit too much and is no longer with the organization. The book "This is Karate" was the pioneer among it's kind and several books on Kyokushin came after it's publication. A total of 20 books in Japanese and English has been published in Japan, in addition with all the other books in various languages.
In 1965 the Japanese magazine "Modern Karate" was published for the first time. 12 years later the title of the magazine was changed to "Power Karate" and the same kind of magazine was published in English and called the "Quarterly Kyokushinkai Magazine". There was also a comic about Kyokushin - "Karate Baka Ichidai". The comic was later animated for TV. Just before the World Championships in 1979 another comic was made and it was called "God Hand". Publicity is something Oyama and Kyokushin always have defended and been successful with. A result of that is the film about Masutatsu Oyama's life, made in 1979. But Oyama had more and more become a man of the world and an eager public debater. He has been committed to everything from debate-articles to election speeches to support his sponsors and friends involved in the political life of Japan.
Today more Japanese know him as an active public debater than as a leader and founder of the worlds biggest karate organizations. Despite all marketing projects, Oyama has been restrictive with opening dojos especially in Japan. In 1974 there were only 14 acknowledged "Branch Chiefs"(dojos with a licensed instructor) in Japan. In 1984 there were 41 and today there are about 80. What has motivated the rise during the latest decades is the idea of having "Uchi-Deshi", - a kind of boarding students, who live a life like a monk. They have to sign a contract, that gives them supervised training 2-3 times a day for usually 3 years and their obligations is to take care of the dojo.
A normal development for such a student lead to 1st or 2nd Dan and a license to open their own dojo. The accommodations for the Uchi-Deshi are in the Wakajishi-Ryu, adjacent to the Honbu dojo. They live an extremely strict life with hard training, but the idea has also brought up many prominent instructors. Howard Collins and Takumi Higashishidani's 2 year long stay during the 70's was the foundation of the now existing Uchi-Deshi activity. The foreign dojos, which had financial means, could get help-instructors from Japan. Most instructors were sent to USA and Australia and only a few went to Europe, due to most European instructors already had been training in Japan. Back up
Osu-No-Seishin, part 25
Sosai Oyama died April 26, 1994, after a short illness.
Sometime before he died he gave the organization a new motto, Osu-No-Seishin the spirit of perseverance, the will of persistence a concept that is the style's basic philosophy. Do not give up is the essence of Osu-No-Seishin and Kyokushin. Sosai Oyama has affected many people throughout his lifetime through Kyokushin Karate. Whatever he has done good or bad we will never see his kind again. Back up