Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Background and Founding of Kyokushin Karate

The Kyokushin Karate of Mas Oyama is considered to be truly hard core. Below are excerpts from a post at The Martial Way, which gives a history of Mas Oyama's training prior to, and the founding of, Kyokushin Karate. The full post may be read here. It's very interesting reading. Enjoy.

The Early Martial Arts Training of Mas Oyama

As I research and go deeper into the history of Kyokushin Karate I become even more fascinated. Between legend and story, somewhere lays the truth. We may never know fully, but it is wonderful to speculate, learn and share.

This happened recently, when a reader, Terry Birkett, 4th Dan Kyokushin Karate, of Ronin Dojo in Wales, was asking me about Sosai Mas Oyama’s rank in Goju-ryu. I knew it had come from Gogen Yamaguchi, based on an interview Graham Noble did with his son in 2013, so I assumed that is where Sosai learnt Goju. I was wrong. Terry pointed me in the direction of Nei-chu So, which then led me on a path of researching Sosai Mas Oyama’s training in martial arts and here now lies what I have found out so far.

Though I could not find much information, Oyama took up Kosen Judo during his teens in Japan, which was extremely common at that time.  First at the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo and then in the studio of the father of Koji Sone, who was Judo Champion of the World from 1959 to 1961.

It is also said that  Masahiko Kimura, a famous champion of Judo, considered one of the greatest judoka of all time, who defeated He’lio Gracie of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, encouraged Oyama to take up Judo so that he would have an understanding of the art’s ground techniques. Besides Judo, Masahiko Kimura studied Goju-ryu under Nei-chu So, eventually becoming an assistant instructor. Kimura introduced Oyama to the Sone Dojo in Nakano, Tokyo, where he trained regularly for four years, eventually gaining his 4th Dan.

In 1946, Oyama enrolled in Waseda University School of Education to study sports science. It is here that he began studying Shotokan karate under Gigō (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi, the second son of Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi.

Later Oyama attended Takushoku University in Tokyo and was accepted as a student at the dojo of Gichin Funakoshi. He trained with Gichin Funakoshi for two years. Oyama progressed to 4th Dan, under Sensei Funakoshi.

Apparently Funakoshi’s training wasn’t enough for the young powerful Oyama, and so after the end of World War II Oyama decided to leave and study Goju-ryu under fellow Korean Nei-Chu So.

Nei-Chu So, an ethnic Korean like Oyama, was a senior student of Goju-ryu’s founder, Chojun Miyagi. So was extremely important in helping  Gogen Yamaguchi “The Cat” become established and in building his reputation in Japan, along with the karate style Goju-ryu. To this point, Goju-ryu was mainly an Okinawan system. Nei-Chu So kept Yamaguchi’s fledgling Goju school alive while Yamaguchi was stationed overseas during World War II and subsequently held as a prisoner of war in Russia. So remained a high-ranking official in Japanese Goju-ryu organizations after the War, even as Yamaguchi eclipsed him in fame.
Musashi and Mountain Training:

Oyama also met Eji Yoshikawa, author of the book ‘Musashi’, a fictionalized account of the life of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s most famous samurai warrior. Thanks to this book and the writer, Mas Oyama begins to understand the profound meanings of the Samurai Bushido Code, and ultimatemly shapes his own philosophy on martial arts.

Influenced by Nei-chu So and the writing of Yoshikawa, Mas Oyama decided to withdraw from social life and live in solitude for a period of 3 years and dedicate his time completely to the intense training of body and mind, as Musashi did in his lifetime. Oyama traveled to Minobu mountain, the same place where Musashi created Nito-ryu kenjitsu. Mas Oyama was only 23 years old at the time. In his opinion this would be the perfect place to start his severe training of body and mind that he had planned for himself.

Taikiken is a Japanese martial art, greatly inspired by Yi Quan (or dachengquan), a Chinese system of martial arts. Taikiken was founded by the Japanese Kenichi Sawai (1903 – 1988) after losing to Chinese Wang Xiangzhai (1885-1963) – the founder of Yi Quan. Impressed by the technique of Wang Xiangzhai, Kenichi Sawai learned Yi Quan with his student Wang Yao Zongxun and then with the master himself, Wang Xiangzhai.

Kenichi Sawai began transmitting his art at the end of his learning of Yi Quan in 1947 in Japan. Among his most famous students was his long time friend Mas Oyama, whose friendship went back to their University Judo days, as well as Oyama’s top student, Hatsuo Royama, who became one of Sawai Sensei’s top students as well.
Oyama Dojo:

In 1953 Mas Oyama started his first dojo in the outdoors in Mejiro, a suburb of Tokyo, but June 1956 is considered as the official start of the Oyama karate school, opening his dojo behind the Rikkyo University, about 500m away from the spot that would become the actual honbu dojo.

In 1957 there are about 700 members training at his dojo, despite the high attrition due to the hard training. Practitioners of other martial arts also came to train at his dojo, especially for the jis-sen kumite (full contact fighting). Mas Oyama observed these styles and adopted the best and most useful techniques into his karate. Doing so, his Karate evolved soon into one of the most impressive styles in the world of martial arts. Soon his style was known as “The Strongest Karate”, not only thanks to the skill and endurance of Oyama, but also because of the strong and strict discipline and the requirements for training and tournaments.
Kyokushin Karate:

In 1964 Oyama moved the dojo into the building that would from then on serve as the Kyokushin home dojo and world headquarters. The IKO (International Karate Organization) adopted the name of “Kyokushin”, or “The Ultimate Truth” as the name for Oyama’s karate. Before 1963 Oyama had called his karate Oyama Karate. From that moment Kyokushin Karate started to spread out all over the world.

In 1969, Oyama staged the first All-Japan Full Contact Karate Open Championships which took Japan by storm and Terutomo Yamazaki became the first champion, which have been held every year since. In 1975, the first World Full Contact Karate Open Championships were held in Tokyo. World championships have been held at four-yearly intervals since.


Terry Birkett Ronin Dojo said...

Who are you Rick Matz??

Rick Matz said...

In the vast world of martial arts, nobody.