Came across a very interesting piece online about Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate. The article is by one of his students, Jon Bluming:
MAS OYAMA STORIES
By JON BLUMING In the past, I've avoided discussing the "famous" Kyokushin Kaikan
karate business. I needed some time to think about saying anything now,
too, as I wanted to be strictly honest toward the memory of my
old "friend and teacher, Mas Oyama. He did a lot for me, introducing
me to the karate world and giving me a new purpose in life. This
changed my life completely for the best. For me, Oyama was like a
father I never had. In the old days, he showed me all the things you
need to be a teacher and helped me through some rough times. On the
other hand, I am tired of all the phonies who did not go the straight
So, let me tell it like it was.
Published accounts describing Oyama preparing for the big karate
championships in 1947 are very funny. Especially the Americans, who
fought the Japanese in World War 11, should know that. MacArthur was
the big honcho in Japan from August 1945, until the Korean War, and he
declared right away that there was to be no more budo in Japan until he
declared otherwise. He even rounded up all the samurai swords he could
lay his hands on and had them dropped in Tokyo Bay. They would be worth
hundreds of millions of dollars today. He was not messing around and
nobody dared disobey his rules.
Around 1948, judo started again at the old Kodokan on Suidobashi.
Karate was done mainly by the Shotokan, where sparring matches were not
allowed until the late 1950s, and by the Goju Kai and Wado@ryu, where
the sparring was so soft that a split lip or a nose bleed would throw
the officials into a state of shock. So while there might have been
some professional boxing clubs where fighting was done on a knockout
basis, a karate championship in Kyoto done on such a basis was
absolutely out of the question.
When hearing stories about the old days, remember that the Japanese are
great storytellers. If the story is good, they don't check to see if it
is true. Even today, I meet people who heard from their fathers or
grandfathers about the roughhousing I supposedly did in my younger
days. It doesn't amaze me anymore and I am tired of telling people that
the stories are impossible because if you hit somebody, you were hauled
into a police station, charged, and sent to jail or kicked out of the
country. I admit I had a few fights, but always with witnesses saying
that I did not start it.
As for Oyama's alleged 270 American bouts, remember that he was in the
States as a professional wrestler. Since when are professional
wrestling matches on the level? All Oyama ever told me about those days
was that Americans were crazy, that their wrestling was phony and
prearranged, and that as fighters, they were weak. My guess is that
most of what he did was just break bricks and things between matches.
If he had ever fought any of the American professional wrestlers,
really fought them, I think he would have beaten most of them easily.
The story about Oyama fighting bulls is not true. He never met a real
bull, for he never visited Spain. I also doubt that he was gored, for
he never told me about it and he used to tell me everything. Kurosaki
Kenji was there and he told me what happened. They went early in the
morning to a stock- yard in Tateyama Prefecture. Workmen prepared a fat
old ox for Oyama by hitting one of its horns with a hammer so that it
was quite loose. Oyama did not kill the ox he only knocked off the
Oyama showed Bill Backhus and I the 16mm "bull fighting" movie in 1959.
1 told Oyama never to show this film in Europe because it looked too
phony and everyone would laugh at him. As far as I know, nobody saw
that movie again.
Even Oyama's famous world championships of the 1970s were a joke. By
then, foreigners were not allowed to win. To prevent it, Oyama had all
the gaijin fight each other first, and of course pitted the best
against each other. Because everyone wanted to win, the injuries were
terrible. Meanwhile, he put the leading Japanese against low quality
Japanese from his own school, who knew their place and of course didn't
try too hard. So they had it easy.
Occasionally, in the finals, the referee would give a good foreign
fighter a decision over a Japanese fighter. Oyama would stand up all
red in the face. Then he'd call the referee over to his table and chew
him out and reverse his decision. This was against all the rules of
sportsmanship. Read Nakamura Tadashi's book or go talk to him in New
York. It is very emotional and very sad.
Oyama was a strong man in his young days, but I never saw him fight
anybody, not even in his own dojo. So his "countless encounters"
and "challenges" were all before my time. Kurosaki Kenji tells me that
they were all before his time, too, and that goes back to 1952, when
they both trained at Yamaguchi Gogen's dojo in Tokyo. So I think maybe
he never fought in his life.
But he was a great teacher who trained many good fighters and his books
were very popular. When I read his first book, What Is Karate? (1957),
1 was really impressed. I was in his second book (This Is Karate, 1965)
and had the opportunity to look into the way he did things.
The full article can be read here:
It is an interesting read, and certainly seems to de-bunk a lot of the tall tales about Oyama and paints a different picture of him.
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food"