Sosai Masutatsu Oyama 1923 – 1994 The following article by Liam Keaveney appeared in the BKK’s magazine and
we reproduce this here to give a general outline of the formation of Kyokushin Karate by Sosai Masutatsu Oyama. It is now over fifteen years since the death of Masutatsu Oyama and as the British Karate Kyokushinkai celebrate its 40th Anniversary it is fitting that we, in the pages of our magazine, record the achievements of probably the greatest karateka of the latter part of the twentieth century. I hope, as we host our 3rd IFK World Tournament we can, in part, celebrate the achievements of a man who for all his life was dedicated in promoting Budo Karate. To attempt to do justice to his achievements, in karate terms, would not be possible within the limitations and size of our magazine – but what I will attempt to do is summarise and comment on the man’s life and driving force since the 1950’s. The Beginning The measure of an individual within martial arts today can be fairly quickly summarised. In our field we are surrounded, if not smothered, by self appointed innovators and experts – open the pages of any martial arts magazine and you will discover a multitude of newly founded styles and systems that appear on a regular basis. Without change and individual thought our progress would be slow. I read the following passage recently “Time will define the innovations and experts, will their views and theories stand the rest of practicality and the passing of years?” How true this is – and certainly this is true of Masutatsu Oyama and his style of karate “Kyokushinkai”. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Masutatsu Oyama was indeed the renegade of Japanese karate. He refused to accept certain dogmas. He set out to change the system from within by the formation of his own system of karate. His attitude and outspoken character to this day is, if not agreed with, is respected. In the past 40 years he built a strong and powerful world organisation under one leader with countless practitioners in nearly every country in the world. His teachings and philosophy, in the sphere of budo karate, have been a positive inspiration to uncountable karateka. I only met the man briefly a couple of times and trained with him for a short time, as a Branch Chief with other representatives, at a course in Mitsume in 1987 - therefore, I have had to rely on the personal knowledge of such people as Hanshi Steve Arneil (9th Dan), who was a student, friend and advisor to Masutatsu Oyama since the 1960’s. I am indebted to Cameron Quinn’s book “The Budo Karate of Masutatsu Oyama” which was an unrivalled source of information and I have quoted from this book extensively. Miyamoto Musashi At some time or other we all look for encouragement and many individuals, one way or another, influence our actions and thoughts. Masutatsu Oyama was no different, he sought inspiration from the books of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Throughout his life Masutatsu Oyama followed closely the example set by Musashi. Masutatsu Oyama first went into the mountains in 1946 after meeting Eiji Yoshikawa who was the author of the novel Musashi. From this book Masutatsu Oyama learnt much of the way of the Samurai or Bushido. Prior to his meeting with Yoshikawa, Masutatsu Oyama was also influenced by So Nei Chu. So Nei Chu was one of the highest authorities of Goju Karate in Japan. Not only was he renowned and respected for his physical ability but also for his spiritual teaching. He was also a follower of both Buddhism and the Martial Way and accordingly taught Masutatsu Oyama “the inseparability of Budo and the spiritual foundation of religion”. The advice given by So Nei Chu is well chronicled but worth repeating here. ”You had better withdraw from the world. Seek solace in nature. Retreat to some lone mountain hide-out to train your mind and body. In three years you will gain something immeasurable. As the proverb goes, “Temper the heated iron
Within these four years he had mirrored the rapid progress he had made in karate was graded 4th Dan. He recalls: “These visits on Mr.before it gets cold”. Amongst other things he studied Judo and boxing but was to be influenced greatly by a man called Gichin Funakoshi. It was here at this juncture in his life he met So Nei Chu and began his training in the mountains. one of the first three people to bring Okinawan Karate to Japan. Masutatsu Oyama was the last child of a large family. Was there
. Masutatsu Oyama’s first visit to the mountains to train was with a student of his. so train yourself in self discipline before you grow older if you wish to be a great man. Other Martial Arts Having gained 4th Dan he renewed his interest in Judo once more and continued his training at the Sone Dojo at Kasagaya. They erected. Chu replied: “Whether a painter seriously studying the concept of beauty. Training harder than anyone else will make you invincible. What others have done should not be impossible to you. living quarters on the mountain side. Two years later he was sent to live on his sister’s farm in Manchuria. learning Southern Chinese Kempo. In 1938 he travelled to Japan and entered the Yamanashi Airways School to train to become a pilot. However. There has never been a genius who has not displayed tremendous effort and fortitude in their particular pursuit.” The Young Oyama However. I often felt as if I waited thousands of days between visits. Luckily Masutatsu Oyama did not abandon his search and teaching of the martial arts. those who become recognised as geniuses work much harder and demonstrate far more perseverance than the average person. like many others in Post-War Japan. Kayama were a “meeting with Buddha in hell” for me. If you have the urge to come down from the mountain hut then shave off an eyebrow. I believe you to be an irreplaceable figure in the world of Japan Martial Arts. He recalls “I could not become a pilot but I felt there must be some other way to succeed. the start of his famous life began 23 years earlier in 1923 in Korea. Oyama. I made a firm resolution to prove my worth and swore to withstand the cold rejection I met as a foreigner”. especially so after my pupil left the mountain. I must say that the emptiness of solitude is much more painful than the hardship of training. After six months his student was unable to bear the isolation and solitude and left the mountain. due to his age and other external forces he was forced to abandon this venture. He trained there for four years. even Zazen (sitting in meditation) could not make me reach a state of serenity of mind. It is believed that it was here he began his first martial arts training at the age of 9. Tokyo. I will find success in some other field of study. graded 2nd Dan within two years at the age of 17. or a martial artist investigating budo. I warned myself not to anticipate the visits.” Isolation and solitude at times weakened and disturbed Masutatsu Oyama and in desperation he wrote to So Nei Chu for advice. with the intention of remaining three years. He met Funakoshi at Takushoku University. I habitually became lost in thought watching the poor light of the shack. The years that followed held much personal distress for Masutatsu Oyama. Masutatsu Oyama returned to Korea five years later and entered school in Seoul and continued his training this time in Korean Kempo. and become the example of a true martial artist for the world. Masutatsu Oyama did not look any further and began his training with Funakoshi – he made rapid progress. You will most likely have very little desire to see anyone until it grows back. three years later at 20 he was graded 4th Dan. Even the scripture of the Hokke-kyo which I chanted every night could not soothe my irritated mind. The isolation however was not total as a friend of Masutatsu Oyama called Kayama would deliver food on a regular basis. You have what it takes to stand alone. and yet solitude distressed me. unrivalled as a modern day warrior. The occupation of Japan was in many ways too much to bear for the young. My training became more intensive.
He did however kill three bulls with his bear hands. and it is extremely hard to keep the right attitude towards this goal. Reports conflict. His intention was to perfect his techniques and formalise his own thoughts and principles into his own Karate Way. and I confronted nature and my inner-self at night. Yasuda he continued for three years until 1956. His physical training was coupled with spiritual training tameshiwari. is the severest condition to karate training. Here in 1953 with instructors K. Of course my skill in karate was greatly developed. Kyoto and he was undefeated and declared the Champion. In later life he recalled the benefit of his training: “Although it is important to study and train for skill in techniques. In the following year Masutatsu Oyama decided that the rest of his life would be devoted to the study of karate. confronted face to face with nature and oneself. in a successful attempt to give publicity to Karate.any Master of the martial arts who had not experienced mortification? The really great man can only be produced through continuous heavy training. Although I willingly went into the situation. You should be more courageous in striving towards your goal. The stories are not unknown throughout the world on his strength and agility in fighting these animals. His public display did more than reinforce his own belief in his ability. less than half a mile from the present day Honbu in Ikebukuro. it is difficult at first to understand that attainment of the Budo way requires one’s whole life. it was the fist time I had been required to stand alone with the fear of nature… The greatest fruit of my stay in the mountains was that I trained my physical and mental strength during the day. but also for spiritual attainment. but more fulfilling was the strengthening of a great mental state. He was unable to remain for the three years he had wished because his friend Kayama could not longer sponsor his friend’s stay in Mount Minobu. Minamoto. training 12 hours a day. It is reported that shortly after his return in 1947 to society he entered the First All Japan Tournament since the War. First All Japan Tournament After a year Masutatsu Oyama came down from the mountains more through necessity than choice. it brought to the attention of the Japanese public the effectiveness of karate and the power of a man call Masutatsu Oyama. The following year after its opening the Oyama dojo had
. held in Maruyama Gymnasium. He again returned to the solitude of nature and trained alone for 18 months on Mount Kiyozumi. Kato and K. He remained on Mount Kiyozumi for 18 months and returned to society in 1950. It is necessary to impose the greatest effort and concentration on oneself in order to merely accomplish the right attitude to training … Living alone in the mountains. In June 1956 he opened the first true dojo near the Rikko University.” Fighting Bulls It was in the 1950’s that he began testing his ability against bulls. From 1950 – 1954 he travelled extensively throughout the USA and later in the decade continued to travel through Europe. However. Mejiro. That is the most important thing. as is expected with the passage of time and imagination. Mizushima and E. it is more important to make his whole life in training and therefore not aiming for skill and strength alone. He added two further instructors to cope with the ever increasing influx of students. His days of training were extremely difficult. Oyama Dojo The first Oyama dojo was in a burnt out area of Tokyo.” His training continued with renewed vigour and with new resolve swore to himself he would become the most powerful karateka of Japan. During this period he returned to the USA and extended his journey to South America and Europe. a state developed far in excess of that before entering the mountains. isolated from everything and everyone. K. for the man who wishes to truly accomplish the way of Budo.
so training was severe. In October 1961. I met many people of all different races. a grass lot in Mejiro. In this way Oyama built on his karate. Oyama Dojo It was in 1953 that this first dojo was opened. The drop out rate was indeed high and in some instances was 90% due to the hard training. This was the foundation on which he built the Kyokushinkaikan. In 1958 Oyama published “What is Karate?” which sold 250. I tried to impart to them the techniques and spirit of Karate and managed to gain some success in this area. Within a short space of time membership grew to 300. the foundations of Kyokushin were slowly and steadily laid. Karateka from other styles would visit and train with Masutatsu Oyama – especially for the kumite sessions (fighting) which was full contact. During this time he studied many other martial arts – taking and developing where necessary the techniques and concepts and adapting them as he felt to the better. He would take what he felt were the best techniques and concepts from not just other karate styles but from any Martial Art and gradually incorporated them into his training. The interest in Karate had begun. along with Masutatsuami Ishibashi. Thus. During an exhibition in Mexico he was gored by a bull which luckily did not kill him but he was seriously injured which necessitated six months hospitalisation. Grabbing and throwing the opponent was also permitted. Throughout my travels. In just over a year the dojo had 700 members. I then travelled about the world engaging in fights with anyone who wished to challenge me. despite an extremely high drop out rate due to the harshness of the training. Tokyo. 500 metres from the current Honbu (headquarters) in Ikebukuro. primarily his karate as his students interpreted. was “fighting karate”. In June 1956. Formation of Kyokushin Karate It is apt that we give space to an article on the formation of Kyokushin Karate by Oyama that appeared nearly thirty years ago: “Following my stay in the mountains. Kenji Kata. Ken Minamoto and Eiji Yasuda.000 copies – this book became the Kyokushin bible and was without doubt an international best seller. This was the time that Masutatsu Oyama’s karate strength was at its peak. the first National American Tournament was held in Madison Square Garden. Many of the students were members of other styles who came to the Oyama Dojo for training in full contact karate. Few rules were adhered to in kumite with attacks to the head and face common-place (usually with the palm heel or knuckles wrapped in a towel). On returning to Japan. Mizushima continued as the instructor. As the dojo began to grow Masutatsu Oyama continued his travels and it was in Mexico in 1957 that he nearly met his end. Once they entered the dojo they both expected to be hit and would expect to fight. I thus considered deeply the next step in my life and I slowly began to evolve a number of ideas which lead to the formation of my Kyokushin style of Karate and
. cultures and ideas. At this tournament Oyama gave a demonstration which earned him the name Godhand. my emergence again into civilian life and my victory fights with the bulls. New York. Kumite Masutatsu Oyama in many ways differed from other instructors of that era. Individual kumite would continue for an indefinite period of time until one person shouted “Mairi masutatsuhita” (I give in). The young Oyama was at his peak and would at these fighting sessions fight with them all – it was not surprising that the sessions lasted in some instances four hours.700 members despite the severity of training and the associated “drop out rate”. The Chief Instructor of the dojo was Kenji Mizushima. the true beginning of Japan Kyokushin (and the IKO) began with the opening of the Oyama Dojo in a former ballet studio behind the Rikkyo University.
and even the smallest and most insignificant person should not be defeated. on the hand we seem equally destined to struggle against others and ourselves from time to time. It was a fact that I had overcome many hurdles in my life. The easiest way to develop courage is to devote oneself to a cause for justice. Karate versus Boxing or Thai Kick Boxing. all human history ends. It is an unchangeable fate that every single human is mortal. that I decided I wished to aim my life. being both courageous and yet cowardly. Karate versus a bull. the better we are on in our human way. others. we have nothing to fear and can deal with any situation calmly. So I set out on the road to developing an International Budo Karate. our world of struggle.”
. all is reduced to meaninglessness if we cannot make good use of our defeat and experience to win at the next battle. Therefore life is to struggle. but what is courage? People. I believe it is true that we cannot live without courage. but I knew that sometimes I felt so cowardly that I was ashamed. on the other hand we always have a longing for true strongness. Throughout my travels I experienced many kinds of death matches. Defeat may teach us many things however. However. Therefore the stronger we become. So I came to realise that Karate is a very excellent.eventually to the establishment of Kyokushinkaikan. Kyokushin means to seek for the ultimate. knowing my history expected me to have courage at all times. from struggle with oneself to individuals fighting to large scale battles for power or justice. Life is nothing but fighting and struggling at one level or another. We desire a person full of courage and scorn cowards. unpleasant it is to see society driven by power. mental and spiritual. We are destined to live with other. It is part of human nature that we have some sympathy for the poor and weak. I believe one who is cowardly in daily life is so because he lacks readiness of mind and it was in the training of young minds for this steadfastness. a Karate available to everyone in the world which would aid them to live with themselves and to live with others in this. A Karate very necessary in today’s world. I believe that Kyokushin Karate is the right way to succeed the tradition and wisdom of the Oriental spirit which I believe has to much relevance today. I pondered deeply on the question of courage. very strong Martial Art. I believe I have never lost because I devoted myself only to Karate. We cannot avoid these struggles throughout our lives and history goes on repeating them. With these perfections. other perfections come as a matter of course. and I overcame them all. Everyone has these two sides. or an ideal. or a thirst for power and however much we feel violated by even the word “power”. But what are they beyond instructors of dancing Karate? How can they teach the techniques of a fighting art and the spirit behind it which leads to the physical and mental strength to overcome all obstacles and to refrain from violence. I have never clearly been defeated in a bare fist fight in which I was permitted to use the techniques of Karate. in the physical. Furthermore. I am sure it depends on the condition of the mind and the surroundings at any given time. many battles and even defeated bulls. Where can we find life without struggle? Perhaps when struggle between us ends. I was often criticised throughout my fighting years and was looked on with scorn by those Karateka who love “peace”. There are many kinds and levels of struggle. when they have never experienced a true fighting situation? So I formulated Kyokushin Karate. Karate versus Wrestling. Thus living things must show their power of life during their lives and hand it down to their descendants. I am the only one that has engaged in Death Matches in order to propagate the strength of Karate. Since the Second World War. however. life is to fight. I am also sometimes convinced that I have more courage than a lion in the heat of the hunt. If we offer our lives to society. it nevertheless exists and is a vital part of our lives. as a Budo Karate. Although I am sometimes so cautious my friends are surprised.
1958 Messrs. to Thailand. Eisaku Sato was appointed President and Matsuhei Mori appointed Vice President. Mr. but to make Masutatsu Oyama and his new. Shigeru Oyama and Hirobumi Okada became instructors. powerful Kyokushin respected worldwide. Steve Arneil and Mr. Eiji Yasuda. “What is Karate?” was published and 250. Peter McLean became members. was opened and instruction was given by Shihandai Kenji Mizushima. Whilst the Tokyo dojo continued to grow. Kenichi Matsui were instructing over 700 students. Bob Boulton. 1961
. Instruction was given by Messrs. The members of the Oyama Dojo saw their karate first and foremost as a fighting art. 1956 An old ballet school behind Rikko University was rented as a dojo. Tokyo Honbu The building of the current World Headquarters commenced in 1963 and was officially opened in June 1964. Masutatsuami Ishibashi and Ken Minamimoto. Kenji Kurosaki and Akio Fujihira. The book became an overseas best seller. The drop out rate was very high – over 90% but no one really worried. Masutatsu Oyama continued to travel the world. Injuries were a daily occurrence. Tokyo. Masutatsu Oyama sent Tadashi Nakamura. Mr. It was at this time that Oyama Karate adopted the name Kyokushin.000 copies were sold. but those who remained became strong. The Oyama Karate team won the challenge and served to not only redeem the name of Japanese karate. From the first lesson Kumite was hard. the Ultimate Truth. In 1964. The formative years of Kyokushin Karate (As published by Honbu in their World Tournament Programme) 1946 The Eiwa Karate-Do Institute was established in Suginame. Mr. to a membership of 300. Kenji Mizushijmja. in September but was closed six months later. Kenji Mizushima and Eiji Yasuda. so it was expected of them to hit and be hit. Tsutomu Yajima and Mr. researching all types of Martial Arts and demonstrating his power karate. The purpose was to accept the challenge to Japanese Karate from the Muay Thai boxers. Jon Bluming. those who stayed just remained silent and continued training. all instructors at the Tokyo Oyama Dojo. Kasuhisa Watanabe. 1957 Mr.Full Contact Kumite Kumite (fighting) at the Oyama Dojo was notoriously demanding. There were few restrictions. 1953 The Field Dojo in Meijiro Tokyo. 1954 A signboard for Oyama Dojo was set up and instruction given by Messrs. Mr.
Matsuhei Mori were inaugurated as President and Vice President respectively.Messrs.
. Kancho visited Europe and South America for four months to attend Branch Chief Meetings. Sean Connery (actor) visited the Honbu to take lessons during filming of one of the James Bond 007 movies. Tadashi Nakamura was sent to develop Karate in America. The summer training. In May. Mr. Tadashi Nakamura and two other men travelled to Bangkok and won two of the three fights. Tadashi Nakamura. Dynamic Karate. plans for a new dojo building were formulated. Mr. Loek Hollander as General Secretary. 1962 Oyama dojo accepted a Thai Boxing challenge to Japanese Karate that other schools had considered foolhardy. Mr. at Ichinomiya School in Chiba Prefecture. World Karate Travel (domestic edition) was published. including branches in Hawaii and San Francisco. Mr. the First Open North American Tournament was held in Madison Square Garden. 1966 This year Kenji Kurosaki was sent to Holland and Shigeo Kato to Australia. the International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan was officially established and Mr. Over 20 students gained black belts in this very successful year and more than 10 overseas branches were established. New York. at Ikebukro. Steve Arneil as Vice Chairman and Mr. Kenji Kurosaki was then sent to the Hawaiian Branch. Eisaku Sato and Mr. Vital Karate. was attended by 100 students and as both schools proved most successful these places became regular sites for summer and winter trainings. Shogo Ariake. The Hawaiian Branch Chief. hence ennobling the dignity of Japanese Karate. 1963 Construction of the International Karate Organisation. The first winter training was held at Mount Mitsumine in Okuchichibu and was attended by 30 enthusiastic students. Bobby Lowe visited Japan and Mr. within the next three years it had grown to a successful 80 page magazine. Yuzo Goda. Ichiro Ozawa. The First European Branch Chief Meeting was held in Amsterdam. In October. Since membership was rapidly increasing. Matsuhei Mori assumed Presidency and Hideo Shiotsugu became Vice President. Kyokushinkaikan Honbu. (domestic edition). 1964 After three set backs. the magazine “Modern Karate” was published with only eight pages. Akio Fijihara and Tsutomu Koga became instructors. Yasuhiko Oyama. 1967 Shoichiro Ogura was sent to Brazil and Shigeru Oyama to the USA. Jon Bluming being elected as Chairman. Oyama dojo was growing in popularity and prosperity and Shigeru Oyama himself began instructing at the request of many students. “This is Karate” was published and Mr. 1965 Over the past three years more than 40 overseas branches were established. As President Eisaku Sato became Prime Minister. Shigeo Kato. Kancho Masutatsu Oyama officiated as the main judge of the tournament and performed demonstrations that earned him the acclaim of God Hand in the New York Times. Tokyo began October the first of this year. For The People Who Learn Karate (domestic edition) were published and all received immediate popularity.
Zavetchanos of the South Pacific. Attendance at winter training was high and participation at summer training reached 200. Karate for the Millions (domestic edition. the previous Chairmen were re-elected. A welcome demonstration was held for them at Geihinkan.1969 Ryoichi Matsushima was sent to South East Asia and the following books were published with great success: Advanced Karate. gaining great public favour. 1973 Masutatsu Oyama’s autobiography Karate-Baka Ichidai was adapted and presented on television. The First Open Karate Tournament was held at Tokyo Gymnasium on September 20th and it attracted an audience of over 7. Kancho visited overseas branches on more than 20 overseas trips. held on October 22nd at Tokyo Gymnasium was a great success. Tadashi Nakamura opened the North American Organisation Honbu Dojo and the opening ceremony was attended by Kancho Oyama. Syonen Karate Goshinjitsu). The Fourth Open Karate Tournament. In the North American Kyokushinkaikan Organisation. Mr. Nobuyuki Kishi was sent to the Republic of China and Seiji Kanamura to the USA. Masutatsu Oyama’s Autobiography appeared in a boy’s magazine and in reply to national demand. Howard Collins second place and Toshikazu Sato third place. In Europe and North America. Boy’s Karate. Peter Chong became the Chairman of South East Asia. Tokyo. The Second European Branch Chief meeting was held in Amsterdam. Tsuneyoshi Tanaka. Yasuhiko Oyama and Miyuki Miura were both sent to the USA. Kazuyuki Hasagawa won first place. The Fifth Open Karate Tournament
. Hyakuman Ni No Karate). Winter training had a record number of 120 students participating and summer training was attended by 300 students. From the 64 competitors. From the 48 competitors Miyuki Miura won first place. A Classroom of Karate (domestic edition. the Masutatsu Oyama Correspondence School was established in Shibuya. Terutomo Yamazaki second place and Yoshiji Soeno third place. He also received a letter of thanks from the Japanese Foreign Affairs Department for his outstanding work in this area. It proved very popular and membership soon reached 15.000. Ian Harris the Chairman of South Africa.000. The Third Open Karate Tournament was held at Tokyo Gymnasium and again Kyokushin Karate took all the honours. 1971 Regional Branch Chairman elections were held this year. 1970 The Prince of Jordan visited Honbu and presented Kancho Oyama with a medal. From the 48 competitors first place went to Terutomo Yamazaki. the Consular General and the Mayor of New York. to discuss the possibility of holding the First World Open Karate Tournament. the South American Branch Chief. after which Kancho Oyama was presented with a medal and a letter of thanks. Yasuhiko Oyama second place and Daigo Oishi third place. The Second Open Karate Tournament was held on September 26th at the Tokyo Gymnasium. Karate Kyoshitsu) and Boy’s Karate Self Defence (domestic edition. Tadashi Nakamura was elected Chairman. visited Tokyo and undertook three months training after which Kancho Oyama was presented with a cultural medal from the Brazilian Government. Seiji Isobe was sent to Brazil. second place to Yoshiji Soeno and third place went to Kazuyuki Hasegawa. Katsuaki Sato won first place. Loek Hollander was elected Chairman. 1972 The Prince and Princess of Spain visited Japan. High Royal Highness Prince Raad of the Middle and Near East and Mr.
where the Prince was presented with an honorary 2nd Dan. This same pattern was to be repeated many times over the years with top Karateka including Hanshi Steve Arneil. So in some ways it is a sad fact that the promotion of the World Tournaments in essence led to its weakening. In the twenty years that passed many other senior grades either left the IKO or were expelled. People from around the world were sent free tickets by Honbu to compete in the tournament as were the country’s Branch Chiefs – so even representatives from the poorest countries could attend and witness the event. A full and comprehensive explanation of the situation is recorded in The Human Face of Karate by Tadashi Nakamura. Joko Ninomiya. Having said that. Terutomo Yamazaki second place and Toshikazu Sato third place. The focus of the world was on this event which was spread over two days and I think it fair to say that after this tournament the IKO in numeric terms blossomed. 1975 . The Sixth Open Karate Tournament was held at Tokyo Gymnasium on November 9th and 10th. It was not surprising that on their return home fighters and representatives enthusiastically spread the word of Kyokushin and now had proof that they and the IKO were indeed one of the most powerful organisations in the world. 1974 Masutatsu Oyama was awarded 9th Dan by the International Organisation Honbu. Looking back now thirty years later the staging of the World Tournament was undoubtedly one major reason for the popularity of Kyokushin Karate and at the same time the tournament was one major factor in many people leaving the IKO none more famous than Tadashi Nakamura. With them they also took home the prize that in four years time they would be invited again to attend the Second World Tournament. There is no doubt that the Japanese Karateka stood head and shoulders above the rest of the world in terms of technical ability and above all spirit. the Japanese in general still maintain their excellence of technique and without doubt their spirit is still superior. I assume as an exercise in damage limitation Masutatsu Oyama expelled Nakamura (after he had already resigned!) for amongst other things. Purely as a public relations exercise it would have achieved its goal but in getting the message across regarding Knockdown Karate and the power of the Kyokushinkaikan it proved priceless. The success of this event was indeed tempered by the unexpected shock resignation of Tadashi Nakamura and the shock waves rippled around the world. The first three place winners were: 1st – Katsuaki Sato.World Tournament Year! 1975 saw the staging of the First World Open Karate Tournament on the 1st November at the Tokyo Gymnasium and this was indeed a milestone in the history of the Kyokushinkaikan.was held on November 4th at Tokyo – 128 were chosen to participate. Hatsuo Royama won first place. I suppose it gave credence to Honbu if they could point the finger at anyone claiming they had been financially dishonest and this charge in itself often seems to be the end of a person’s reputation. financial irregularities. It is no understatement to say that at the time Nakamura would have been the natural successor to Masutatsu Oyama. fighters from throughout the world have matched and beaten the Japanese at their own game and there have in the past years been some brilliant and able non Japanese fighters. Eisho Nakaza and Nobuyuki Kishi were sent to the USA. 2nd – Takashi Azuma and 3rd – Hatsuo Royama. The popularity of Kyokushin rocketed not only in Japan but across the world. The Prince and Princess of Iran visited Japan and a karate demonstration was held at the Hotel Okura. From this 128. Branch Chiefs would work furiously and fighters would train harder in the future having taken home the experience of how good the Japanese fighters were. I think it fair to say that in the thirty years that has passed. The First World Tournament itself was not without drama – as Kancho Oyama had stated that if a Japanese fighter did not win the tournament he would commit Seppuku (ritu To be continued)