The History of Kyokushin PART 1 | ART OF ONE DOJO


Kyokushin is a style of Karate founded by
Oyama Masutatsu, a Korean born, Japanese citizen who carries quite the legacy in the martial
arts. Now this is one of our most requested arts
from our viewers and with good reason. Training in Kyokushin Karate requires a will
of steel and it’s not a good art for those who just wanna lite to moderate workout. This art is known around the world for it’s
toughness and it’s also considered one of the most influential styles of full contact
Karate. One can often recognize Kyokushin by the delivery
of rapid, full powered body blows and as a leader in international competition. It is also renowned for its extensive Kumite
sessions with practitioners often enduring 20, 30, even 40 or more matches in a row. Translated from Japanese as, ultimate truth,
it stands as an icon of discipline, conditioning and character building. Now, this is gonna be the first of three episodes
in which we attempt to catch a glimpse of this truth and take a look at the history
of Kyokushin. So, how would one describe Kyokushin Karate? It founded in 1964 by Sosai Oyama Masutatsu,
Kyokushin is predominately a stand up, full contact and self defense base style of martial
art. It is a style of Japanese Karate, but you
can trace a lot of its roots to the hard linear techniques of Shotokan, combined with the
many circular movements found in Goju Ryu. There are also elements of Judo and Kobudo,
or weapons training, which makes Kyokushin a very powerful and effective combination
of techniques. It also has continued to rise in popularity
and has over 12 million practitioners all over the world. The founder of Kyokushin Karate is Masutatsu
Oyama, often referred to as Mas Oyama. He was born on July 27, 1923 in what would
later be South Korea. When he was still very young, he was sent
to Manchuria, China to live on his sister’s farm. Now, Oyama was first introduced to the martial
arts at the age of nine, when one of the farmers began teaching him Chinese Kempo, called 18
Hands. Now the 18 Hands is very important in the
history of martial arts. It was one of the foundations and is often
found in the roots of many arts, including my own art, of American Kempo Karate. At the age of 12, Oyama returned back to Korea
and continued his training, but this time in Korean Kempo. Now this was only the beginning of the multiple
building blocks Oyama would use to develop his own system. In 1938, at the age of 15, Oyama traveled
to Japan with his brother to enlist in the Japanese Imperial Army aviation school. While he was there, he continued his training
in Karate, adding Judo and boxing into his regime. It was very clear that young Oyama was finding
his way in the martial arts, constantly adding more and more skills to his arsenal. When World War II ended in 1945, Oyama left
the aviation school and settled down in Tokyo and in 1946, enrolled in Waseda University
school of education and he pursued his study in sport science. Oyama pressed forward in his martial arts
training, seeking out a [inaudible 00:03:37] school run by Gigo Funakoshi, son of, Gichin
Funakoshi, who was the Grand Master and founder of the art and then later, he trained under
Gichin Funakoshi himself. Oyama showed great skill and prowess and added
yet another discipline, that of Goju Ryu, founded by Chojun Miyagi. After several more years of training, Mas
Oyama had proven himself to be a highly skilled and formidable fighter. In his lifetime, he achieved the ranks of
fourth Dan in Kodokan Judo, fourth Dan in Shotokan Karate, seventh Dan in Goju Ryu Karate
and eventually, tenth Dan as a founder of the art he would later form, Kyokushin Karate. As skilled and disciplined as Oyama became,
the war had left him unsettled and he was noted for often getting into fights with US
military police. He once said, in a television interview, “I
lost many friend during the war. The very morning of the departure as kamikaze
pilots, we ate breakfast together and in the evening, their seats were empty. After the war ended I was angry, so I fought
as many US military as I could, until my portrait was all over the police station.” Mas Oyama sought a way to ground himself and
having become interested in the Samurai Bushido code and what it represented, he had committed
himself to spending three years in isolation to focus entirely on his training. He built a small shack in Mt. Minobu in Japan
and there he trained and lived. At one point, a student had joined him, but
this was not a recreational retreat nor a weekend seminar. It was a harsh, outdoor workout and there
were no modern conveniences. Nature was the Dojo. He embodied a lot of what you see in martial
arts films, glamorized training out in the wilderness and the waterfalls, becoming one
with nature and in pure isolation. However, this wasn’t Hollywood and this wasn’t
glamorous. It was pure, hardcore training. Mas Oyama kept a very strict regime, training
at least 12 hours a day, no days off, under cold waterfalls, breaking stones and logs
and even using trees as a [inaudible 00:05:30]. Now this was a bit overwhelming for his student
who, after about six months, snuck away in the night, leaving Oyama to train in solitude. Oyama was dedicated to becoming one of the
hardest and best fighters in the world. Unfortunately, after 14 months, his sponsor
was unable to continue to offer support and Oyama returned back to civilization. He came back a hardened martial artist, winning
competitions and earning respect. Although he felt unresolved as he had not
yet completed his three year commitment in the mountains. At this point in his life, he knew that he
wanted to dedicate himself to the martial arts. So on his own, he took off again for the mountains,
where he would spend another 18 months of this rigorous routine. Complete solitude, out in nature, 12 hours
a day. Mas Oyama was a different man this time when
he returned. He was confident, powerful and ready to show
the world his craft. In 1950, Mas Oyama began to test and prove
his power. In one of his more notable claims to fame,
Oyama demonstrated his skill by fighting live bulls with his bare hands. He would reportedly knock them out with the
single strikes and he had believed to have killed three instantly and wrestling others
down to the ground and chopping their horns off with his bare hands. Now, I have seen some conflicting information
in my research and some people claim they weren’t really bulls, but just steer that
he wrestled down. Honestly, is that even less impressive if
it is true? I mean, how many people do you know who would
do that? In addition to battling bulls, he took on
any challenger who wished to fight him. He toured North America giving live demonstrations
and exhibitions and even live on television. He won every single challenge, most fights
lasting only a matter of seconds and most of his opponents, he had knocked out with
a single blow. His power was un-disputable. It was even said that, if you were to block
one of his strikes, he would still break your arm and if you didn’t block, well, the result
was often worse. This iron fortitude and exhibition of his
skills earned Oyama the nickname, Godhand. And as if the skill and power he showed wasn’t
enough, Oyama also wanted to lead the example of endurance. He introduced the world to one of the most
grueling tests in the martial arts, the 100-Man Kumite. This was a bare knuckle battle lasting 100
consecutive rounds, with each round lasting a minute and a half to two minutes and we’re
talking full contact, no pads, no breaks. So when an opponent was knocked out or time
ran out, another opponent immediately jumped in. Now, in many cases the fighter attempting
the challenge, would see the same opponent multiple times because there weren’t always
100 people available. But the big difference is, those people had
a chance to rest and the challenger would not. So this was 100 non-stop rounds of bare knuckle,
full contact fighting. Mas Oyama not only completed this challenge,
but then he did it three days in a row, completing 300 undefeated rounds. It’s also been said that he was up for a fourth
day, but no one wished to challenge him any further. Oyama would go on to establish Kyokushin as
one of the leading and toughest Karate systems in the world. So, what does the name, Kyokushin mean? Founded officially in 1964, the full, official
name of the art is, Kokusai Karate-do Renmei Kyokushinkaikan. Which, I apologize if I pronounced it incorrectly,
but it loosely translates to, International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan. In simpler terms, the art is usually referred
to as, Kyokushinkai, which means, Ultimate Truth Society or even more common just, Kyokushin,
Ultimate Truth. The Kanji for this name is a prominent emblem
of the art. Mas Oyama held a very high regard for the
samurai, Miyamoto Musashi and his book of the five ranks. As a result, Oyama wanted the calligraphy
of the Kanji to resemble a sheathed sword, in honor of Musashi. The calligraphy was designed by Oyama’s close
friend, Sensei Haramotokai. This official icon of Kyokushin is written
in blue and embroidered on the uniform’s left side of the chest. Another distinct symbol representative of
the art of Kyokushin is the, Kanku. This is an emblem based on the Kanku Dai Kata,
which also means, view in the sky or raising sun. In this Kata, the hands are raised to scan
the sky and they form the symbol. The points in the Kanku represent the fingers
and symbolize, ultimate peaks. The thicker sections of the right and left
of the image are the wrists of the hands and they signify, power and the center represents
depth and infinity. The entire emblem is encircled, standing for
circular activity and continuity. So the official uniform of Kyokushin is a
solid white Gi with the embroidered blue Kanji of the name on the left side of the chest
and the red badge of the Kanku stitched on the left sleeve. Now, we’re gonna take a more detailed look
at the Kyokushin curriculum in the next episode, but let’s quickly explore the fundamentals. The foundation of the curriculum is built
on three components, sometimes called the three K’s, based on their Japanese names. These components are Kihon, Kata and Kumite. Kihon generally means, basics, and they are
the fundamental movements and strikes. Blocks, punches, kicks, posture, breathing
practices, throws and body movement, all fall under Kihon. They are the root and foundation of practice. If a student does not develop strong basics,
then the rest of the training will be unreliable. Kata. Kata is short for the word, Katachi, which
translates to form, shape or pattern. Most Katas are performed individually and
are composed of basics, or Kihon, in a sequence of pre-choreographed motions. By practicing basics and sequences repeatedly,
it helps students to develop polished technique and also to help in memorization and understanding
the relationship of the movements. Many martial arts have Katas for a similar
purpose. And in Kyokushin, Katas are actually organized
into two main categories. Northern style and Southern style. Oyama formed the Northern style Katas to draw
from influences he learned in Shotokan Karate, while the Southern style draws from his experience
in Goju Ryu. Then we have Kumite. Kumite means, fighting or basically freestyle
sparing. Now this is where skills built by the student
during Kihon and Kata training are translated into real fighting skills and application. Now although head protection is sometimes
used and face punching is restricted, Kyokushin Kumite is usually un-padded and full contact
fighting. In competition, opponents deliver heavy blows
and powerful kicks in an attempt to submit or knock out their opponent. Now Kihon, Kata and Kumite are terms also
found in other styles of Karate, but in the next episode we’re gonna break down the Kyokushin
training a little bit more to get a better idea of the curriculum. Now, this episode would not be complete if
I didn’t talk about, OSU. Such a short, simple sound, yet with it comes
a heavy and well respected meaning. The word is a combination of two other Japanese
words. Oshi, which means, push and Shinobu, which
means, endure. Kyokushin is an incredibly demanding art. It’s very taxing on the body, it tests the
spirits of the practitioner and it represents one of the highest forms of discipline, technique
and commitment. So the sentiment behind OSU, means to push
one’s self to the limit of ability and in under pressure, push passed it and endure. In Kyokushin training, OSU carries many uses. It is used for all greetings and it replaces
many words such as, hello, goodbye, yes, sir, yes, ma’am or in any instance in which you
are given a command and you reply in agreement. When you arrive at the Dojo and you bow, you
say, OSU. When you bow out at the end of the class,
you say, OSU. Your sensei gives you a command, you respond
with, OSU. When you perform a technique, you call out
a loud, OSU. If you receive a well placed blow from an
opponent in Kumite, you credit them with respect and you say, OSU. OSU is everything in Kyokushin. It is dedication and in termination. It is respect and appreciation. It is patience and perseverance and it is
a reminder for all Kyokushin students to push themselves and endure. So if you could encapsulate the spirit of
the art of Kyokushin into a single word or sentiment, OSU is that word. Now, a word of caution. OSU is a signature tradition of Kyokushin
and its usage is well respected, but with that being said, you should also be aware
that outside of a Kyokushin Dojo, that might not always be the case. In Japanese culture, OSU is also sometimes
taken as a contraction of, Ohayou-gozaimasu, which generally means, good morning. However, it’s usage and inflection can change
on context and it’s often considered slang or even possibly crude. So for example, in English, when you meet
somebody of higher rank or in a formal environment or someone’s like a senior to you, you would
say something along the lines of, “Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Well OSU, in this context would be like saying,
“Oh hey man, what’s up?” It can come across as less respectful, sometimes
crude, maybe even a little uneducated. So while OSU carries a mark of respect in
a Kyokushin Dojo, don’t assume that it’s always the case everywhere else. Some Dojos in other arts use OSU in a similar
manner, while others might find it offensive. So basically, do not use it in a Dojo unless
you know ahead of time if it is appreciated or not. Oyama also established the International Karate
Organization. Throughout his lifetime, Mas Oyama continued
to spread his craft and Kyokushin began to plant the seeds across the world. He would hand pick instructors and he would
send them to new countries and territories, where they would then draw a crowd and they
would perform demonstrations out in public, drum up excitement and then spread word of
mouth. Once interest rose, they would establish a
school. As a result, Kyokushin now has million practitioners
or more in thousands of Dojos spread across over 100 countries in the world. Mas Oyama never quit on his dedication. Remaining the true warrior that he was, he
continued to push and endure even as he aged and health problems developed. In his later years, he was diagnosed with
osteoarthritis, a joint disease that breaks down cartilage and bone. Now, despite this normally being a debilitating
disease and condition, Oyama did not let it stop him and he continued his practice and
demonstrating his craft, even still breaking wood and bricks and blocks and stones. In his final years and despite never having
been a smoker, Mas Oyama developed lung cancer. On April 26th, 1994, at the age of 70, Masutatsu
Oyama passed away. While his absence is heavily felt, he left
behind a legacy of a man who became one of the best [inaudible 00:15:27] in the world
and creating a system of martial arts that pushes boundaries, develops character, cultivates
respect and it retains the true Boshido spirit. He was a pioneer in the martial arts and Kyokushin
is now one of the leading systems of Karate in the world. For more information on Mas Oyama and Kyokushin
and to get a copy of Miyamoto Musashi’s book of the five rings, I’ve included some links
below in the description. And that concludes today’s video. I would also like to extend a giant and sincere
thank you to one of our most loyal viewers, Sensei Juan Ferrentino-Iorio from Melbourne,
Australia, for his generous help and time in researching this project. Your contribution and friendship is greatly
appreciated. I hope you enjoyed this video looking on the
origin of Kyokushin. In the nest episode of this three part series,
we’re going to explore the Kyokushin training, highlight the curriculum and find out what
it takes to become a black belt in the art. Thank you so much for watching. As always, I invite [inaudible 00:16:28] viewers. Especially those with experience in Kyokushin. Please like, share and subscribe and be sure
to click the bell icon that you get the next notification for the next episode. OSU.

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