Masutatsu Oyama (大山 倍達 Ōyama Masutatsu?, July 27th, 1923 – April 26, 1994), more commonly known as Mas Oyama, was a karate master who founded Kyokushinkai Karate, considered the first and most influential style of full contact karate. He was born Choi Yeong-eui (Korean: 최영의 in Korea,Hanja: 崔永宜). A Zainichi Korean, he spent most of his life living in Japan and acquired Japanese citizenship in 1964. He is an alumnus of Waseda University in Japan.
|Rank||10th dan karate and 4th dan kosen judo|
|Spouse||Chiyako Oyama (1926–2006)|
|Notable students||Steve Arneil, Hideyuki Ashihara, Tae Hong Choi, Bobby Lowe, Tadashi Nakamura, Terutomo Yamazaki|
Oyama began studying martial arts at age 9 from a Korean seasonal worker named Lee who was working on the farm.
One story of Oyama's youth involves Lee giving Oyama a seed which he was to plant; when it sprouted, he was to jump over it one hundred times every day. As the seed grew and became a plant, Oyama later said, "I was able to jump between walls back and forth easily." Thus his title became "Karate Baka Ichidai" (Karate Fanatic).
In March 1938, Oyama left for Japan following his brother who enrolled in the Yamanashi Aviation School Imperial Japanese Army aviation school.Sometime during his time in Japan, the then Choi Young-Eui chose his Japanese name, Oyama Masutatsu (大山 倍達), which is a transliteration of 'Baedal' (倍達). 'Baedal' was an ancient Korean kingdom known in Japan during Oyama's time as "Ancient Joseon". 'Masutatsu' can also be pronounced 'baitatsu' in Japanese. Oyama was inspired to go to Japan by General Kanji Ishihara who was against the invasion of Asian neighbors (as a consequence, he was ostracized by higher ranks of the Japanese Army), to carve out his future in the heart of the Empire of Japan.
Oyama aspired to serve the Imperial Army during the war. He wrote a letter to the highest-ranking officers with the blood from his fingers to apply for the Kamikaze pilot. Because it was the elite course he was rejected the first few times because of his back ground however, later Oyama recalls, "After the general saw I wrote in my own blood he knew I was ready to serve. The next week I was supposed to leave as Kamikaze, never returning to my home country." However, on the day of his mission, his airplane malfunctioned. He later said in an interview for TV program," I had breakfast with my comrades ready to serve our country. In the evening when I returned for supper, the chairs were empty. There were no words to describe what I felt but I know I was given a chance to do something."
Wanting the best in instruction, he contacted the Shotokan dojo (Karate school) operated by Gigō Funakoshi, the second son of karate master and Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi. He became a student, and began his lifelong career in Karate. Feeling like a foreigner in a strange land, he remained isolated and trained in solitude.
He joined a Korean political organization in Japan to strive for the unification of Korea, but soon was being targeted and harassed by the Japanese police. He then consulted with a fellow Korean from the same native province, Mr. Neichu So, who was a Goju Karate expert.
Around the time he also went around Tokyo getting in fights with the U.S. Military Police. At this time, Mr. So suggested that Oyama retreat to a lone mountain for solace to train his mind and body. He set out to spend three years on Mt. Minobu in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. Oyama built a shack on the side of the mountain. One of his students named Yashiro accompanied him, but after the rigors of this isolated training, with no modern conveniences, the student snuck away one night, and left Oyama alone. Oyama returned to Tokyo a much stronger and more fierce Karateka.
Oyama gave great credit to reading "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi- a famous Japanese swordsman, to change his life completely. He recounts this book as being his only reading material during his mountain training years.
Oyama tested himself in a kumite, a progression of fights, each lasting two minutes, and each after the featured participant wins. Oyama devised the 100-man kumite which he went on to complete three times in a row over the course of three days.
In 1950, Sosai (the founder) Mas Oyama started testing (and demonstrating) his power by fighting bulls. In all, he fought 52 bulls, three of which were killed instantly, and 49 had their horns taken off with knife hand blows, earning him the nickname of "Godhand". That it is not to say that it was all that easy for him. Oyama was fond of remembering that his first attempt just resulted in an angry bull. In 1957, at the age of 34, he was nearly killed in Mexico when a bull got some of his own back and gored him. Oyama somehow managed to pull the bull off and break off his horn. He was bedridden for 6 months while he recovered from the usually fatal wound. Today of course, the animal rights groups would have something to say about these demonstrations, despite the fact that the animals were already all destined for slaughter.
*In 1963, Oyama wrote "What is Karate" which became a best seller in the US and sold million copies all over the world. It is still considered the "Bible of Karate" to this day. It was translated into Hungarian, French and English.
*Oyama also took up Judo so that he would have an understanding of the art's ground techniques. Masahiko Kimura Judo Legend then introduced Oyama to the Sone Dojo in Nakano, Tokyo, where he trained regularly for four years, eventually gaining his 4th Dan in this discipline.