Profile of Mas Oyama
Yong I-Choi, who later took the name of Matsutatsu (Mas) Oyama
and became the Sosai of the International Karate Organization Kyokushin,
was born on the 27th of July. English translation of
the Japanese name, Matsutatsu Oyama, is "Mighty Mountain."
Mas Oyama was sent to his sister's home in Manchuria, China
Mas Oyama began studying Kempo (Eighteen Hands) from Mr. Yi
at his sister's farm in Manchuria.
Mas Oyama entered primary school in Seoul, Korea, where
he continued the study of Chinese Kempo under Mr. Yi.
He gained proficiency in the Eighteen Hands technique and in
the second year he achieved the equivalent to 1st Dan (Shodan).
Mas Oyama entered Yamanashi Airway School in Japan.
He studied karate under Gichin Funakoshi, one of the first
practitioners of the art to introduce karate to Japan, and
under So Nei Chu, who was also Korean and from the same
district as Mas Oyama. So Nei Chu was the foremost expert
in Goju Karate at the time and is credited with introducing Goju to Japan.
Mas Oyama entered Takushoku University where he earned his 2nd Dan (Nidan) ranking.
Mas Oyama received his 4th Dan (Yondan) ranking under
Gichin Funakoshi. He opened the Eiwa Karate-do Research
Institute in Sinami-ku, Tokyo, but six months later the
institution, for unknown reasons, was shut down.
Mas Oyama joined the Physical Education Department of
Waseda University. Mas Oyama visited with Eiji Yoshikawa
and Shiro Ozaki, two renowned Japanese writers, to study
more about the old Samurai way. When Mas Oyama went into
the mountains for isolated study and practice of karate, he
took Eiji Yoshikawa's book, "Musashi," with him as an
inspiration. He chose Mount Minobi, as it is the place
where Musashi developed his Nito-Ryu style of fencing.
Mas Oyama entered the first All Japan Championships since
World War II, held at Maruyama Gymnasium, Kyoto, and was crowned champion.
Mas Oyama began training with Neichu, a student of Chojun Miyagi,
founder of Goju-ryu Karate. He later decided to devote his life
to karate and trained alone on Mount Kiyosumi in Chiba to perfect
his techniques and to form his karate way. After 18 months, his
sponsor wrote to inform him that he could no longer support the
training regime and Mas Oyama had no choice but to return to civilization.
However, by this time he had developed his path of karate and his
philosophy of "Ichi geki hissatsu." the one -strike certain death.
Mas Oyama fought a full-sized bull in Chiba after taking up residence
in a butcher's establishment where he trained to kill bulls with his
bare hands – usually by striking them between the eyes. In the
preliminaries of later exhibitions, Mas Oyama first broke off the
horns of the bulls as they charged by — much as a matador with his
red flag — using hand strikes (shutos). Altogether, he killed 47 bulls,
four of them dying instantly.
Mas Oyama began teaching karate to U.S. Army personnel in Japan,
at camps in Zama, Fuchu, Tachikawa, Yokohama , Yokosuka, Yokota
and Takorozawa. Mas Oyama began training in Judo at the Sone Dojo
in Chiba. He eventually achieved the grade of 4th Dan (Yondan) in Judo.
Mas Oyama continued to study Judo in Sone Dojo in Asagatake.
A karate organization in
America invited Mas Oyama to the U.S.A. and over several months he did 32
demonstrations, taught in various states throughout the U.S. and participated
in seven organized karate fights.
Mas Oyama traveled to the U.S. again, and this time fought
a bull in Chicago, Ill., becoming reknowned throughout the
United States for the unusual feat of first chopping off the
bull's horns, then standing to meet them head-on for the death blow.
Mas Oyama returned to Japan to commence training for a
movie in Boso, Chiba. Mas Oyama opened his first dojo on a grass-covered
lot in a burnt-out area of Meijiro, Tokyo. The
instructors were K. Mizushima and E. Yasuda.
Mas Oyama was invited by an American promoter to the U.S.A.
He also traveled to South America and Europe, fighting many opponents.
Breaking off the necks of whisky bottles with hand strikes (shutos)
was a very popular demonstration Mas Oyama received his 6th Dan (Rokudan)
from Gogen Yamagushi. Mas Oyama, during his tour in the U.S., fought another bull in
Chicago, Ill. He was highly criticized by an Animal Rights group
for, as the group felt, mistreating the animal. At the same time,
it was pointed out to the group, butchers throughout the country
were killing livestock for beef, using sledge hammers
Starting in Okinawa, Mas Oyama traveled through Southeast Asia,
studying many different fighting styles. The "Oyama Dojo" was
opened behind the Rikko University in Tokyo, Japan . The initial
instructors were K. Mizushima, E Yasudo, M. Ishibashi and T. Minamomoto.
Sosai Mas Oyama said opening the "Oyama Dojo" marked the very
beginning. This was also the birth of a karate regime based on the principle of 1,000 days of training a beginner 10,000 additional days of training, and attaining an intense
understanding of the mysteries of karate. Mas Oyama returned
from Southeast Asia.
Mas Oyama traveled to Europe.
Mas Oyama traveled to the United States to train Donald (Don) I. Buck
and Duke Moore. On returning to Japan, Mas Oyama authorized the two to
begin teaching Kyokushin Karate then it was Oyama's Karate. The first overseas branch of the Kyokushin
was opened by Shihan Bobby Lowe in Hawaii. Don Buck opened
a Kyokushin dojo on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, Calif. Mas Oyama
then traveled to Mexico and fought another bull, suffering
grievous injuries that required a six-month hospital stay
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., invited
Mas Oyama to teach and demonstrate. The book, "What Is Karate," was
published by Mas Oyama and soon became a best seller on Japanese karate.
The West Point Army Academy invited Mas Oyama to teach.
The first Hawaiian Tournament was held and Mas Oyama attended as the
Supreme Judge. He also demonstrated his skills at this tournament.
The Oyama Dojo held its first Summer Training School at Ichinoniya in Chiba.
September 8th, 1960
Mas Oyama started 72 Branches in 16 countries, one of them in
San Francisco, Calif. He came to San Francisco to promote
Don Buck was authorized as a Branch Chief and soon after
opened the dojo — the School of Oyama — on Clement Street in
San Francisco. His associate in the business was Birney Jarvis.
Birney Jarvis received his 1st Dan (Shodan) from Don Buck and Mas Oyama.
The first North American Open Tournament was held at Madison
Square Garden in New York City, which Mas Oyama attended as the
Chief Judge. Mas Oyama opened a Kyokushin dojo in Los Angeles, Calif.
Don Buck and Birney Jarvis opened another School of Oyama in
South San Francisco, Calif.
Construction started on the building in Ikebukuro that was to
become the Kyokushin Karate Honbu.
Muai Thai kickboxing proponents challenged Japanese karate fighters.
Mas Oyama accepted the challenge as he believed no other style was
comparable to his. He sent three students to Thailand, who won two out
of the three fights, thus redeeming the reputation of Oyama's karate.
Don Buck opened his San Rafael and Bel Marin Keys, Novato, Calif., Dojos.
E. Sato (former Prime Minister of Japan and Nobel Prize winner) became
the Kaicho (President) of Kyokushinkaikan. Mas Oyama became Kancho (Director).
Tokyo Honbu was officially opened and IKO was established. The first winter training was held at Mount Mitsumine.
Kancho Mas Oyama began a long overseas trip to promote Kyokushin
Karate. The trip included stops in Hawaii, U.S.A., United Kingdom, Europe and
Jordan. The European IKO was established in July. Loek Hollander was
appointed Chairman. The Middle East IKO was established in August.
The South Pacific IKO was established in October. Ivan Zavetchanos
was appointed Chairman. Kancho Mas Oyama gave private lessons to
His Majesty, the King of Jordan.
Mas Oyama organized the First Open Kyokushin Full-Contact Karate
Tournament in Tokyo. The event attracted 48 competitors, including
kickboxers, Judo-ka and other karate styles. A very large audience
attended. The results were: 1st place Terutomo Yamazaki; 2nd place
Yoshijim Soena; 3rd place Ikko Hasagowa. The South Africa IKO was
established in February. The Southeast Asia IKO was established in
April. Yoshikazu Matsushima went to Southeast Asia to teach.
"Fighting Spirit" (Japanese edition) was published.
The Nippon Karate-Do Fajko Team lost in the
Non-Contact World Championships in Paris, France. Sosai Mas Oyama
was most upset and published a long speech on his views, causing a
major rift between the participating factions.
Mas Oyama receives his 9th Dan (Kudan) from his branch
chiefs world wide. Mas Oyama gave a demonstration for
Prince Sham of Iran.
The First World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held
in Tokyo, Japan, on November 1, with 128 competitors from 32
The First World Tournament movie. "The Strongest Karate," was
released to the viewing public. The second edition of the
"Strongest Karate" movie was later released.
Matsutatsu Oyama attended the First Australian Open Full-Contact Tournament.
The English Quarterly Magazine, "Kyokushin Karate," was published.
The Japanese Monthly magazine, "Strongest Karate," was published.
The comic strip, "The Godhand," started.
The Second World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held on the
23rd, 24th and 25th of November, with 187 competitors from 62 countries.
H. R. H. Prince Faizel of Saudi Arabia went to Honbu for a private meeting
with Sosai Mas Oyama.
Mas Oyama lectured at the Kyoto Citizen's University.
About 3000 people attended a party to celebrate 20 years of
The Third World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held on the
20th, 21st and 23rd of January. "My Karate Budo Education" and
"Shawa Gorin-no Sho" was published. The Crown Prince of Nepal came
to see Sosai Mas Oyama and a demonstration was held in the prince's honor.
The movie, "Kyokushin Way," was released by the Shochiku Fuji Company.
The President of Kyokushinkaikan, Mr. Matsuhie Mori, died on the 12th of May
The Fourth World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held on the
6th, 7th and 8th of November with 207 competitors. There were 75
Regional Chairmen in attendance.
The First British Commonwealth Kyokushin Championship was held in
Sydney, Australia. The event was attended by Sosai Mas Oyama
A new branch is formed in Georgia (formally of the USSR).
The Fifth World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held on
the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of November with 250 competitors. Five new
Kyokushin Branches were started.
A sad day for us all! The loss of a
legend, instructor, mentor and friend.
Sosai Masutatsu Oyama dies. The passing in April of Sosai Mas Oyama,
10th Dan (Judan), marked the end of an era, but proponents of the
ancient fighting art will long remember his name and his achievements.
From the beginning, Mas Oyama seriously practiced the styles of karate
that he learned at a young age. In later years, he was highly criticized
by traditionalists for changing the old styles to fit modern needs, but in
the end he was justified. He now could be considered a modern pioneer of
an art dating back to ancient China. To prove his mettle and proficiency,
he fought wild bulls and defeated them, sometimes with injury to himself.
These feats have never been duplicated — or if they have, there has been
little noted of the accomplishment. Mas Oyama traveled throughout the world to spread the word of karate and the Kyokushin.