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The kanji lettering used to spell kyokushin can be translated as “society for the ultimate truth,” which reflects founder Masutatsu Oyama’s belief that traditional karateka were becoming soft, missing the forceful combative nature of the true art. Kyokushin’s philosophy centers on discipline and self-improvement, which Masutatsu Oyama believed could be further honed through rigorous training and full-contact sparring. Masutatsu Oyama’s patented knockdown karate competition format was a natural outgrowth of his beliefs and kyokushin practice.

Influenced by his goju-ryu karate teacher So Nei-chu, Masutatsu Oyama followed the path of his spiritual samurai warrior idol, Miyamoto Musashi, by spending three years doing yamagomori (intense solitary training) on Japan’s Mount Kiyozumi. Eighteen months after Masutatsu Oyama came down from the mountain, he hit and killed a charging bull with one blow and ultimately went on to fight 52 other bulls. Why? Masutatsu Oyama’s goal was to embody the epitome of the samurai warrior’s code, “One strike, certain death.” Thus, kyokushin’s way of training is more about following the code of bushido (the samurai way) than budo (martial way), which became the standard philosophical tenet behind many modern Japanese martial arts.

  1. The Kyokushin Karate Roots of Michael Jai White

    The Kyokushin Karate Roots of Michael Jai White