Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, 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 ~

Monday, July 04, 2022

The Origin of Kyokushin Karate

Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared at Fighting Warrior on the formation and history of Kyokushin Karate. The full post may be read here.

The founder of Kyokushin Karate is Masutatsu Oyama, often referred to as Mas Oyama. He was born on July 27, 1923 in what would later be South Korea. When he was still very young, he was sent to Manchuria, China to live on his sister's farm.
When he was in his age of 9, he was firstly introduced to the chinese martial arts , once one amongst the farmers began teaching him Kempo , which is also known as 18Hands.

Now the 18 Hands is very important in the history of martial arts. It was one of the foundations and is often found in the roots of many traditional martial arts, including my own art, of American Kenpo Karate.

At the age of 12, Oyama returned back to Korea And continued his training, but this time in Korean Kempo. Now this was only the beginning of the multiple building blocks Oyama would use to develop his own system. In 1938, at the age of 15, Oyama traveled to Japan with his brother to enlist in the Japanese Imperial Army aviation school.

While he was there, he continued his training in Karate, adding Judo and boxing into his regime. It was very clear that young Oyama was finding his way in the martial arts, constantly adding more and more skills to his arsenal.

When World War II ended in 1945, Oyama left the aviation school and settled down in Tokyo and in 1946, enrolled in Waseda Universityschool of education and he pursued his study in sport science. Oyama pressed forward in his martial arts training, seeking out a school run by Gigo Funakoshi, son of GichinFunakoshi, who was the Grand Master and founder of the art and then later, he trained under Gichin Funakoshi himself. 
In his lifetime, he achieved the ranks of fourth Dan in Kodokan Judo, fourth Dan in Shotokan Karate, seventh Dan in Goju Ryu Karate and eventually, tenth Dan in Kyokushin Karate training .

As skilled and disciplined as Oyama became,the war had left him unsettled and he was noted for often getting into fights with US military police.
Mas Oyama sought a way to ground himself and having become interested in the Samurai Bushido code and what it represented, he had committed himself to spending three years in isolation to focus entirely on his training.

He built a small shack in Mt. Minobu in Japanand there he trained and lived. At one point, a student had joined him, but this was not a recreational retreat nor a weekend seminar. It was a harsh, outdoor workout and there were no modern conveniences. Nature was the Dojo.

He embodied a lot of what you see in martial arts films, glamorized training out in the wilderness and the waterfalls, becoming one with nature and in pure isolation.

However, this wasn't Hollywood and this wasn't glamorous. It was pure, hardcore training.

Mas Oyama had a really strict training routine , practicing for a minimum of twelve hours each day, with taking no days off, underneath waterfalls, crushing stones or wooden logs with open hand strikes and punches , he used all things in his surroundings as training equipment .

Now this was a bit overwhelming for his student who, after about six months, snuck away in the night, leaving Oyama to train in solitude. Oyama was dedicated to becoming one of the hardest and best fighters in the world.

Unfortunately, after 14 months, his sponsor was unable to continue to offer support and Oyama returned back to civilization. He came back a hardened martial artist, winning competitions and earning respect.

And at this point in his life, he knew that he wanted to dedicate his whole life to learning and teaching martial arts. So on his own, he took off again for the mountains,where he would spend another 18 months of this rigorous routine. Complete solitude, out in nature, 12 hours a day.

1 comment:

Richard Bejtlich said...

This is highly dubious. For example, I could find no evidence Mas Oyama studied judo, let alone earned 4th dan. The more you look into his history, the more it seems he was a self promoter more than anything else. Here is one in a series of articles that looks at the myths of Mas Oyama: