“Keep your head low (modesty), eyes high (ambition), mouth shut (serenity); base yourself on filial piety and benefit others.”      Masutatsu Oyama


Masutatsu Oyama was an exceptional figure in the karate world. He was born in Southern Korea and started practicing Chinese Kempo at age of 9, when he was sent to live with his sister and help her with her farm in Southern China.

Oyama returned to Korea at age of 12 and continued practicing Korean Kempo. He also begun practicing judo and boxing. His huge interest in martial arts let him to the Takushoku University in Tokio, Japan where he started to train with Gichin Funkoshi. At age of twenty, Oyama had achieved the rank of Yondan ( 4th gegree black belt). He practiced simultaneously in Judo and his progress was spectacular, earning him the rank of Yondan in four years.

In 1946, Oyama decided to go to a remote spot on Mount Minobu in the Chiba prefecture of Japan to begin his training. He was followed by his student Yashiro. After six months, however, Yoshiro was unable to bear the hard conditions of solitude and left the mountain. Another friend of Oyama – Mr. Kayama started delivering him food and supplies every month. However, after fourteen months, Mr. Kayama said that he was unable to continue this arrangement. This ended Oyama’s first training in the mountain.

Coming back to the real world in 1947, Oyama won the first Japanese National Martial Arts Championship. It was that moment that Oyama made a decision to dedicate himself completely to Karate and started his second period of training alone on Mount Kiyozumi.

Oyama practiced vigorously twelve hours a day. His regimen consisted of physical training, fasting, misogi (meditation under waterfalls) and study of Zen and philosophy. He used trees and stones to strengthen his techniques, and bench pressed his body weight 500 times daily! After eighteen months of strenious training, Oyama was ready to leave the mountain and confidently face his future.

In 1950, Oyama started his famous barehanded battles with bulls. He fought 52 bulls (which were to be slaughtered) in all, killing three instantly, and taking the horns off 49 of them with his powerful knife hand blows. Oyama’s intent was not to be cruel, hesimply wished to demonstrate to the world, his powerful Karate.

Oyama traveled to the United States in 1952 and engaged in 270 matches against boxers, wrestlers, Judo, and Karate fighters, and defeated every one. Matches lasted no longer than three minutes and were often won with one blow.

In 1953, a grass lot in Mejiro, Tokyo served as Oyama’s first dojo. In 1956, he opened the Oyama Dojo in a former ballet studio behind Rikkyo University. By 1957, the enrollment had reached 700 members.

Oyama opened the organization’s world headquarters in Tokyo in 1964 and subsequently adopted the style name Kyokushin, which translates as the ultimate truth. Oyama’s Karate continued to spread to 125 countries with over 12 million members.

Kyokushin, today, continues to spread worldwide. Oyama firmly believed that hard training could greatly benefit any person, both physically and spiritually, and that practitioners would thus play a part in making the world a better place.

The Eleven Mottoes

Sosai Masutatsu Oyama summed up his entire Martial Arts philosophy in these eleven mottoes, also known as the Zayu no Mei Juichi Kajo, which are central in his teaching.

1. The Martial Way begins and ends with courtesy. Therefore, be properly and genuineM.-Oyama-1.jpgly courteous at all times.

2. Following the Martial Way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.

3. Strive to seize the initiative in all things, all the time guarding against actions stemming from selfish animosity or thoughtlessness.

4. Even for the Martial Artist, the place of money cannot be ignored. Yet one should be careful never to become attached to it.

5. The Martial Way is centred in posture. Strive to maintain correct posture at all times.

6. The Martial Way begins with one thousand days and is mastered after ten thousand days of training.

7. In the Martial Arts, introspection begets wisdom. Always see contemplation on your actions as an opportunity to improve.

8. The nature and purpose of the Martial Way is universal. All selfish desires should be roasted in the tempering fires of hard training.

9. The Martial Arts begin with a point and end in a circle. Straight lines stems from this principle.

10. The true essence of the Martial Way can only be realized through experience. Knowing this, learn never to fear its demands.

11. Always remember: In the Martial Arts the rewards of a confident and grateful heart are truly abundant.