Kyokushin Karate is a traditional Japanese martial art style formed in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama (1923-1994). Kyokushin is a combination of two Japanese characters, Kyoku, meaning "extreme" or "ultimate", and shin, meaning "truth". Karate, pronounced Ka-ra-te, is a form of empty handed fighting. Like most martial arts, it was born out of a need, a need to defend and protect oneself.


Sosai Mas Oyama was born Yong-I-Choi on the 27th July 1923 in a village not far from Gunsan in Southern Korea. The youngest of a large family of the Yanban (nobility) class, he studied Southern Chinese Kempo (known as Eighteen Hands) and Korean Kempo. In 1938, when he was 14, he travelled to Japan to train as an aviator. While in Japan, he studied Judo, Boxing, Okinawan Karate, Goju and Shotokan.


In 1947, Mas Oyama won the karate section of the first Japanese National Martial Arts Championships. Wanting to devote his life to karate, he spent the next few years from human society, training in the mountains 12 hours per day, every day. His training methods included standing under icy waterfalls, breaking river stones with bare hands, striking tree trunks to strengthen his hands and weight training with large boulders. He also developed his jumping ability by leaping over flax plants hundreds of times each day.


In 1950, Sosai began testing (and demostrating) his power by fighting bulls, that were destined for slaughter. In all, he fought 52 bulls, three of which he killed instantly, and 49 had their horns taken off with knife hand blows. In 1952, he went to the United States and tested himself against professional boxers, wrestlers and anyone else who would accept the challenge. In all, he fought 270 challengers, defeating every one of them. It was where he earned the nickname of The Godhand.


In 1953, Sosai opened his first dojo, which was an open air dojo in the burned out ruins in Mejiro, Tokyo. His training methods were very hard and involved pretty much full contact fighting. Due to the intensity and severity of the training, the drop out rates were very high, but eventually he had over 700 students and in 1964 he moved his dojo to Tokyo's Ikebukuro district, which would serve as the Kyokushin world headquarters.


In 1969, Sosai launched the first All-Japan Full Contact Karate Open Championships which took Japan by storm and Terutomo Yamazaki became the first champion. As the 1970s approached, he launched the first World Full Contact Karate Open Tournament in Tokyo, and in 1977, he attended the first Australian Full-Contact Championships in Sydney. As he aged, he suffered from osteoarthritis but never gave up training. Sadly on April 26, 1994, he died of lung cancer (non-smoker) at the age of 70.