Masutatsu Oyama was born in Ryong-Ri Yong-chi-Myo'n Chul Na Do Korea in 1923,
and completed middle school in Seoul. In 1938, when he was 12 years old, he came to
Japan to live, where in 1941, he entered the Tokyo Takushoku University. Oyama had
mastered the Eighteen Techniques of Chinese Kempo while he was still in his homeland.
When he came to Japan, he became a pupil of Gichin Funakoshi, the man who
introduced karate into Japan, and soon achieved the status of a second-grade (Dan)
karate master. He interrupted his college education when he was drafted into the
military in 1943, but he continued his karate studies with Sodeiju, then karate instructor
at the Goju school. By the time the war was over, he had become a fourth-grade karate
Though, when World War II was over, he temporarily volunteered to assist his native
land in its recovery, because of the conflict that soon followed between North and South
Korea he gave up these efforts and concentrated on karate.
In 1947, after he had won the All-Japan Karate Tournament, he resolved to live his life
in the way of karate and determined to follow the doctrines of its way. After 1948, for a
full three years, he secluded himself from human society, devoting himself completely to
a life according to the precept of Zen.
He lived in temples and in the mountains and subjected himself to the disciplines of the
martial arts both night and day. Through such rigorous training as seated meditation
under waterfalls, struggles with wild animals, and smashing trees and stones with his
bare hands, Oyama refined not only his doctrine of karate, but also his own mind and
body. When he had completed this course of rigid discipline, his self-confidence returned
to him. In 1951, he returned to civilization from his mountain retreat to teach the true
meaning of karate to the world. His amazing techniques, manifested most dramatically
in his ability to rip the horns from bulls, caused a sensation in the karate world.
The renown of Oyama karate flashed abroad with such speed that a training hall soon
became necessary for the many students clamoring to be trained in the Oyama way.
Oyama's 1952 karate tour of thirty-two of the United States met with great success. In
1956, he toured Southeast Asia, and in 1962, starting in Europe, he went around the
entire world establishing training halls for the Oyama karate method. Now Oyama
karate halls number 17 in the United States and 76 in 16 other countries of the world.
The number of students already exceeds 100,000. In 1958, for the sake of these
students, Oyama published his first karate guidebook, "What is Karate?" In Japan, the
first Oyama training hall, the Kyokushin Kaikan, opened in 1955, and in 1964 a new
five-story hall, with present Prime Minister Eisaku Sato as honorary chairman, began
carrying on the master's training program.
Information from "What is Karate"
Sadly, Mas Oyama passed away in 1994. A memorial has been erected in memory of this