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Information about the founder of Kyokushin Karate - Sosai Mas Oyama


Sosai Masutatsu Oyama 10th Dan, was born in 1923. He started training at Chinese Kempo

at the age of nine. When he was 15 years old, he started training in karate under Ginchin

Funakoshi.  Sosai trained hard under various teachers and made great progress, becoming

a 4th Dan at the age of 22.  Two years later, in 1947, he won the First All Japan Karate

Championship.  When he was 23 years old, Mas Oyama met Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of

the novel Musashi, which was based on the life and exploits of Japan's most famous

Samurai. Both the novel and the author helped to teach Mas Oyama about the Samurai 

Bushido code and what it meant.

That same year, Oyama went to Mt. Minobu in the Chiba Prefecture, where Musashi had

developed his Nito-Ryu style of swordfighting.

Oyama thought that this would be an appropriate place to commence the rigours of training

he had planned for himself. Among the things he took with him was a copy of Yoshikawa's

book. A student named Yashiro also came with him.

The relative solitude was strongly felt, and after 6 months, Yashiro secretly fled during the night. It became even harder for Oyama, who wanted more than ever to return to civilisation.

So Nei Chu wrote to him that he should shave off an eyebrow in order to get rid of the urge. Surely he wouldn't want anyone to see him that way!

This and other more moving words convinced Oyama to continue, and he resolved to become the most powerful karate-ka in Japan.

A few months later, in 1947, Mas Oyama won the karate section of the first Japanese National Martial Arts Championships after WWII. However, he still felt empty for not having completed the three years of solitude.

He then decided to dedicate his life completely to karate-do. So he started again, this time on Mt. Kiyozumi, also in Chiba Prefecture.  This site he chose for its spiritually uplifting environment.    This time his training was fanatical — 12 hours a day every day with no rest days, standing under (cold) buffeting waterfalls, breaking river stones with his hands, using trees as makiwara, jumping over rapidly growing flax plants hundreds of times each day.

Each day also included a period of study of the ancients classics on the Martial arts, Zen, and philosophy.

After eighteen months he came down fully confident of himself, and able to take control of his life. Never again would he be so heavily influenced by his society around him. (Though it is probably safe to say that his circumstances were also probably never again as traumatic!)

It was in 1950, after returning from the mountains, that Mas. Oyama first started matching his strength against that of a bull.

He fought a total of 52 bulls, killing three and breaking the horns off of 40.

In 1954, Mas. Oyama made his first of many visits to North America where he held numerous demonstrations and participated in many fights against boxers and wrestlers. He won all fights he participated in.

In 1954, he opened his first dojo in Tokyo. This dojo was the beginning of the KYOKUSHINKAIKAN. In 1964, the Tokyo Honbu was officially opened and the International Karate Organization-Kyokushinkaikan (I.K.O.K.) was established.

Kyokushin had started its spread around the globe and at present is one of the largest martial art organization in the world. It goes without saying that a style is only as strong as the students who represent it.

This is why it is the responsibility of all those who have chosen to follow Sosai, to train hard and forge and indomitable spirit so that the tradition of strength in Kyokushin Karate may be recognised by all for many years.


Sadly, Sosai Mas Oyama died in April 1994

In the end, all Kyokushin groups will still maintain the standards set by Mas Oyama for the sake of the many generations to come.


Sosai Mas Oyama
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