Mas Oyama – founder of Kyokushin Karate-Do (1923 – 1994)

The rapid march across countries and continents of the new style of karate – Kyokushin karate – a consequence and phenomenal achievements of the legendary founder Mas Oyamal. The name “Kyokushin” embedded the meaning of ‘Kyoko’ (the final limit); Shin (truth or reality) and Kai (contact). This system of combat training and combination of psychological, spiritual and moral education of the masters, the “union of absolute truth seekers” in the way of martial arts throwing a decisive challenge to the limits of human capabilities, gained well-deserved popularity.

Thankfully Mas Oyama in the early 50s crossed the borders of Japan to spread the art around the world. Kyokushin “the strongest Karate”, characterised by an athletic, power, and dynamic, real contact fighting style, firmly established in the mid 70s. Already at the first open championship of the world according to the rules of Kyokushin representatives of other styles, including contact (among them were students of the “King of Kung Fu” Bruce Lee and Thai boxing champion), could not resist the onslaught of Kyokushin fighters.

Kyokushin revived Karate as a martial art with the traditional system of spiritual and moral values. As a martial art, Kyokushin dissociated itself from a pure sports and contactless styles of karate. 

On the basis of the traditional Oyama managed to achieve generalising Japanese karate school, it Chinese and other counterparts, other types of martial arts, to create a modern advanced and constantly updated system of military and psychological preparation. Kyokushin style is not totally individual style. Its essence – in organic synthesis of the best technical and tactical elements of many national styles Far East and Southeast Asia. At the same time, this style has its own peculiarities, which is manifested in power, dynamic principles of warfare, conducted in a very high pace. From the technical, despite the various borrowing, this style has its own face and their own canons.

Kyokushin style presents to his supporters demanding, mastering them requires a serious athletic training and strict discipline. However, despite the cruelty and maximalism, even demands the cultivation of style around the world carried out taking into account the diverse interests of fans of martial arts in the spirit of the democratic ideal “Karate for millions.” Some are attracted to the Kyokushin system of breathing exercises, the other – the methods of physical training, the third – the system of psycho-regulation, the fourth – self-defense, the fifth – the opportunity to engage in manly sport. Adapted techniques allow Kyokushin karate and children, and women, and the elderly. This reduces the amount of load introduced additional restrictions on contact, but saved the most important landmarks in the preparation and characteristic stylistic features. This allows fans to dive into the fascinating world of sports and fitness training, experience the beauty of plastic dynamic style, master the basics of a real self-defense.

Mas Oyama was born on July 27 1923 in Korea, near Seoul. At 9 he studied Chinese kempo and in 1936 received his black belt. In 1938, he moved to Japan, where he enrolled in the Institute of Aviation. During this period he was able to master Judo and became a pupil of Gichin Funakoshi – one of the three masters of Okinawa, which brought karate to Japan. In 1940 he received the 2nd Dan and entered the Takushoku University.

Oyama wanted to revive Budo karate, karate that is understood not as a sport but as a real martial art.  In 1947 he participated in the first All-Japan championship in Kyoto and wins convincingly against his rivals to win the tournament.  Oyama decides to devote his life to karate. In 1948, following the precepts of the old masters, it goes back into the mountains alone to focus on improving and strengthening his body and spirit.

On the mountain Kiёdzuma in Chiba, Oyama spent 18 months exclusively training heavily. He lived an intense and spiritual life, studying the works of ancient sages and following the recommendations of the Zen masters in search of enlightenment. According to him, he was training more than he slept whilst exposing himself to severe physical tests of martial arts. It laid the foundation for a new style of karate and school, which dated back to the reality of the Arts of Budo. Oyama set out to develop maximum strength, endurance and “killing power” of the body, in order to subsequently establish themselves in Japan to counter the style of “limited” sports karate martial arts he saw at the time. 

In 1954 he opened the first dojo in Tokyo Oyama.  He continued to travel to different countries and to demonstrate art. As he opened up further dojos he created commandments called the oath of the hall (dojo-kun) which is known throughout Kyokushin dojos globally.

We will train our hearts and bodies to achieve solid steadfast spirit.
We will firmly pursue the true meaning of the Martial Way, so that our feelings were always at the ready.
With true zeal, we will strive to cultivate the spirit of self-denial.
We will observe the rules of etiquette, respect for elders, and to abstain from violence.
We will follow our faith and never forget the true virtue of humility.
We will strive for wisdom and strength, not seeking other desires.
All our lives through the study of karate, we will seek to fulfil the true meaning of Kyokushin way.

Kyokushin Karate is currently practised globally in the honour of practising the true martial arts of Kyokunshinkai Karate