Sosai Masutsu Oyama was born on July 27th 1923 in a village in Southern Korea. At the age of 9 whilst staying on his sister’s farm in Manchuria, he first learnt the Martial Arts, studying the southern Chinese Kempo form known as “eighteen hands”. In 1938 Mas Oyama traveled to Japan with the desire to enter an aviation school and become a fighter pilot, but he was forced to abandon his dream and find work. He continued practicing Judo and boxing and his interest in Martial Arts led him to the Dojo of Gishin Funakoshi and thus, he started practicing Okinawa Karate.
With his dedication, Mas Oyama progressed quickly and by the time we was 20 years old he obtained his fourth Dan. It was at this time that Mas Oyama entered the Japanese Imperial Army and began studying judo in the hope of mastering its holding and grappling techniques. By the time he stopped training in Judo, after about 4 years, he had gained a fourth Dan. Following the defeat of Japan after the second world war, Oyama like all other young Japanese, was thrown into a personal crisis. He found a way out of despair by training with So Nei Chu, a Korean Master of Goju-Ryu Karate. This great teacher, renowned for the power of his body, and deep spiritual inclination had a profound influence on young Mas Oyama. Master So taught him the inseparability of budo and the spiritual fundamentals of Buddhism.
After a few years of training, Master So advised Mas Oyama to make a firm commitment to dedicate his life to the Martial Way and retreat to a mountain hideout and train his mind and body. In 1946, Mas Oyama went into training, at a remote spot, on the Mt. Kiyosumi in Chiba Prefecture. He was accompanied by one of his students named Yashiro and a friend Mr. Kayama brought them food supplies every month. Through vigorous training, Mas Oyama learnt to overcome the mental strain caused by solitude but Yashori could not bear it and fled after 6 months. About fourteen months later Mr. Kayama told Mas Oyama that due to unforeseen circumstances he could no longer sponsor Mas Oyama’s retreat in the mountains and thus Mas Oyama’s original plan of remaining in solitude for three years was brought to an end.
The birth of Kyokushin Karate
In 1950, Mas Oyama began his famous battles with bulls’ partly to test his strength and also to make the world sit up and notice the power of his Karate. All together, Oyama fought 52 bulls, killing 3 instantly and taking the horns of 49 with knife-handed blows. Mas Oyama opened his first “Dojo” in 1953 in Meijiro, Tokyo. This was the time that Mas Oyama’s karate strength was at its peak so the training was severe. Many students were members of other styles and Mas Oyama would compare styles and build on his own karate. He would take what he felt were the best techniques and concepts from any Martial Art and gradually fit them into his training; therefore, laying the foundation of Kyokushin Karate.
Kyokushin in the UK
Kyokushin Karate was first seen in Great Britain in 1965. It was brought to this country by Sensei Bob Boulton. Sensei Boulton had studied in Japan at the Honbu (HQ) Dojo of the legendary Masutatsu Oyama. On his return to the UK he founded the first Kyokushin Dojo, the London Karate Kai in Kennington, South London. The fame of this Sensei and the Kyokushin style of Karate soon spread. He was later joined by Sensei Steve Arneil and it was not long before members of the Dojo were competing and winning tournaments. Soon after this the British Kyokushinkai Karate was formed. Its first chairman was Bruce Donn. The B.K.K. continued to grow in size and within a few years there were over thirty Dojos practicing Kyokushin Karate.