Masutatsu Ōyama

Masutatsu Ōyama

Infobox Person
name=Masutatsu Oyama

birth_date=birth date|1923|7|27|mf=y
death_date=death date and age|1994|4|26|1923|7|27|mf=y
birth_place=Gimje, Korea, Imperial Japan
death_place=Tokyo, Japan
occupation=Karate-ka, Martial Artist
spouse=Chiyako Oyama (1926–2006) [MAS OYAMA'S BUDO KARATE. [ Mrs Chiyako Oyama] ]

Masutatsu Oyama (大山倍達 "Ōyama Masutatsu"), also known as Mas Oyama, was a karate master who founded Kyokushinkai, arguably the first and most influential style of full contact karate. He was born Choi Yeong-eui (최영의; 崔永宜), but preferred to be called Choi Bae-dal (최배달; 崔倍達) [cite web|url=|title=최영의는 싸움꾼이 아니라 진정한 무술인 "Choi Yeong-eui was not a fighter but a true martial artist"|language=ko|accessdate=2007-01-20 Interview with his son] to indicate his Korean ethnicity . A Zainichi Korean, he spent most of his life living in Japan and took citizenship there for personal reasons in the sixties.

Early life

Oyama was born in Gimje, near Gunsan, in what is now South Korea, during Japanese colonization. Later accounts often reported Oyama as having been born in Tokyo, Japan, and Oyama also stated this after he took Japanese citizenship. This conflict must be taken in the context of the ongoing unsettled conflict between Korea and Japan and the difficulties faced by the zainichi Koreans (Koreans resident in Japan) even to this day. At a young age he was sent to Manchuria to live on his sister's farm. Oyama began studying martial arts at age 9 from a Korean man who was working on the farm. Five years later he moved to Japan where he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army at 15, hoping to become a Japanese fighter pilot.

He went to Japan at the inspiration of General Kanji Ishihara who was against the invasion of Asian neighbours (as a consequence he was ostracized by higher ranks of the Japanese Army), to carve out his future in the heart of the Empire of Japan.

After the end of World War II, he studied shotokan karate and various other styles of martial arts, training alone on Mt. Minoubu in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It was said that he shaved one of his eyebrows so he would not leave the mountains. He stayed in the mountain for a total of 14 months and was forced to leave after his sponsor had stopped supporting him. Months later, after he had won the Karate Section of Japanese National Martial Arts Championships, he was distraught that he had not reached his original goal to train in the mountains for three years, so he went into solitude again, this time on Mt. Kiyosumi and he trained there for 18 months. Although many of Oyama's followers repeat the story of Oyama's training alone in the mountains, Oyama apparently never confirmed whether this story was true or not.

Oyama enrolled at Takushoku University in Tokyo and was accepted as a student at the dojo (training hall) of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of shotokan. He trained with Funakoshi for two years, then studied Goju Ryu karate for several years with So Nei Chu (소네이쥬, 1907-?),Fact|date=July 2008 a senior student of the system's founder, Chojun Miyagi.

Portions of the early history of Mas Oyama are disputed, particularly by one of Oyama's early students, Jon - Reality-based Self-defense. [ Jon Bluming, Europe’s first Mixed Martial Artist] "Bluming asserts, based on supposedly first-hand history with Oyama, that most, if not all, of the legends about Oyama's early years are false and were perpetrated by Oyama's followers, not Oyama himself." It should be remembered that Jon Bluming, whilst arguably the strongest all round fighter Oyama had as a student, left the company of his teacher and his teacher's organization well before Kyokushin Karate as we know was formed. So his personal association with Oyama, or Oyama's organization, the International Karate Organization, Kyokushinkaikan, was limited to a very brief period in the very early years. Claims made by Bluming relating to Oyama were generally primarily influenced by Bluming's other Kyokushin teacher, Kenji Kurosaki, who also left Kyokushin in the early sixties, in less amicable circumstances than even Bluming.]

Founds Kyokushin

In 1953 Oyama opened his own karate dojo, named "Oyama Dojo," in Tokyo but continued to travel around Japan and the world giving martial arts demonstrations, including the fighting and killing of live bulls with his bare hands. His dojo was first located outside in an empty lot but eventually moved into a ballet school in 1956. Oyama's own curriculum soon developed a reputation as a tough, intense, hard hitting but practical style which was finally named 'kyokushin' in a ceremony 1957. He also developed a reputation for being 'rough' with his students, often injuring them during training sessions. As the reputation of the dojo grew students were attracted to come to train there from in and outside Japan and the number of students grew. Many of the eventual senior leaders of today's various kyokushin based organisations began training in the style during this time. In 1964 Oyama moved the dojo into the building that would from then on serve as the kyokushin home dojo and world headquarters. In connection with this he also formally founded the 'International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan' (commonly abbreviated to IKO or IKOK) to organise the many schools that were by then teaching the kyokushin style.

After formally establishing Kyokushin-kai, Oyama directed the organization through a period of expansion. Oyama and his staff of hand-picked instructors displayed great ability in marketing the style and gaining new members. Oyama would choose an instructor to open a dojo in another town or city in Japan. The instructor would move to that town and usually demonstrate his karate skills in public places, such as at the civic gymnasium, the local police gym (where many judo students would practice), a local park, or conduct martial arts demonstrations at local festivals or school events. In this way, the instructor would soon gain a few students for his new dojo. After that, word of mouth would spread through the local area until the dojo had a dedicated core of students. Oyama also sent instructors to other countries such as the United States of America and Brazil to spread Kyokushin in the same way. Oyama also promoted Kyokushin by holding 'all-world' karate tournaments every few years in which anyone could enter from any style.

Prominent students

*Nihongo|Terutomo Yamazaki|山崎照朝|Yamazaki Terutomo (The first champion which is the First All Japan Full Contact Championships)
*Steve Arneil
*Hideyuki Ashihara, founder of Ashihara Karate
*Loek Hollander
*Howard Collins
*Shokei Matsui
*John Jarvis
*Tadashi Nakamura founder of Seido juku
*Yoshiji Soeno founder of Shidokan
* Miyuki Miura
* Azuma Takashi founder of Daido Juku
*Donald I. Buck founder of American Kyokushin Karate Organization
*Sonny Chiba Japanese Actor and Martial Artist

Public demonstrations

Oyama tested himself in a kumite, a progression of fights, each lasting two minutes, and each after the featured participant wins. Oyama fought 300 men in 3 days.Fact|date=August 2008

He was also known for his propensity to combat with bulls, bare-handed. In his lifetime, he battle 52 bulls, three of which were killed instantly with one strike, earning him the nickname of Godhand.

Final years

Before dying, Oyama built his Tokyo-based International Karate Organization, Kyokushinkai, into one of the world's foremost martial arts associations, with branches in more than 120 countries boasting over 10 million registered members. In Japan, books were written by and about him, feature-length films splashed his colorful life across the big screen, and comic books recounted his many adventures.

Oyama died at the age of 70, on April 26, 1994, of lung cancer, as a non-smoker.


A manga about Oyama's legacy, "Karate Baka Ichidai" (literal title:"The Fanatical Karate Generation") was published in Weekly Shonen Magazine in 1971, the manga was written by Ikki Kajiwara while the art was done by Jirō Tsunoda and Jōya Kagemaru. A 47 episode anime adaptation was released in 1973, the anime had several changes in the plot and for some reason replaced Mas Oyama with a fictional character named Ken Asuka as the main character. However the anime, although some of its plot was different from the manga was still inspired by Oyama's legacy like in the manga.

Oyama was played by Japanese actor Sonny Chiba in the martial arts film trilogy based on the manga (Ikki Kajiwara, Jirō Tsunoda and Jōya Kagemaru were credited as original creators) "Champion of Death" (1975), "Karate Bearfighter" (1975), and "Karate for Life" (1977). Oyama also appears in the first two films.

Oyama's life story is also portrayed in the 2004 South Korean film "Fighter in the Wind" or "Baramui Fighter".

SNK video games character from King Of Fighters and Art Of Fighting series of games, Takuma Sakazaki (AKA Mr. Karate), was inspired by Mas Oyama. Takuma Sakazaki is the founder and grandmaster for the fictional Kyokugenryu Karate, which is heavily based on Mas Oyama's Kyokushin Karate.

Grappler Baki manga character Doppo Orochi is a master karateka based on Mas Oyama, founding his own school of Karate, Shinshinkai.


* "The Kyokushin Way". ISBN 0-87040-460-1
* "What is Karate?" ISBN 0-87040-147-5
* "This is Karate". ISBN 0-87040-254-4
* "Advanced Karate". ASIN B000BQYRBQ
* "Vital Karate". ISBN 2-901551-53-X

ee also

* Sosai
* Takushoku University
* Masahiko Kimura


External links

* [ International Karate Organization 1]
* [ Sosai Masutatsu Oyama - Founder of Kyokushin Karate.]
* [ Mas Oyama, founder of kyokushin karate]
* [ Sosai Mas Oyama]
* [ BlackBelt Magazine, Article]
* [ Mas Oyama's Life and History]
* [ Days of Godhand]
* [ Jacques Sandulescu and Mas Oyama]
* [ World Oyama Karate Official Site]
* [ Mas Oyama Honored in Korea]
* [ Kyokushin Karate Community]

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