Badass of the Week.

Mas Oyama

"One Strike, Certain Death."

Mas Oyama is a martial arts master who became famous for killing bulls by punching them in the face.

Now, I have previously argued that the senseless killing of lesser species of animals in and of itself doesn't necessarily automatically qualify you a badass, but this is some seriously next-level shit.  Any time you go up against a horned, clawed, or otherwise bigger, badder, and more-naturally equipped to kick your ass killing machine and pummel it retarded in hand-to-hand combat, it's inevitable that some degree of badass credibility is going to come your way.  This is especially the case when you're a guy who can karate chop horns off of bulls and punch them in the face with your bare hands until they die from it.

Mas Oyama, the founder of the Kyokushinaki style of full-contact, kick-you-in-the-scrote karate, started his personal quest to become a one-man human abattoir while growing up in Korea in the 1930s.  Learning whatever he could from the Chinese workers on his sister's farm, Mas developed many bizarre techniques for becoming more awesome.  For instance, his first teacher told him to plant a seed, and then jump over it 100 times a day every day.  By the time the seed sprouted and grew into a relatively-large tree, Mas had some pretty unbelievably mad leaping skills.

When Japan invaded mainland China in the early stages of what we now know as World War II, Mas Oyama went back to mainland Japan (his homeland, Korea, was under Imperial control at this time) and began training to be a fighter pilot.  When he wasn't flying it into the closest approximation the Imperial Aviation School had to the danger zone, Oyama started training in martial arts with the guy who founded Shotokan Karate. Shotokan is, among other things, the style of martial art used by Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter II, so studying from the dude who invented the Hadouken is kind of one of the most awesomest things I've ever heard.  Oyama never saw combat in the Pacific War, but he did dedicate his life to studying the art of kicking ass, and by the time he was twenty he was already a fourth-degree black belt.  Bummed that me missed out on all the sweet WWII action, and more than a little pissed about American pilots blowing up his classmates, Mas Oyama spent the first few post-war years getting arrested for beating the shit out of U.S. military occupation forces in Japan.

Figuring that punching soldiers in the face without warning or provocation, while kind of hardcore, wasn't really the best way to hone his fighting prowess, Mas Oyama eventually decided on taking on more drastic measures to improve his physical conditioning.  Not long after meeting the guy who wrote the famous biography on super-mega-badass samurai Miyamoto Musashi, Mas Oyama decided to climb the same mountain where Musashi compiled The Book of Five Rings and train himself alone in the wilderness until he was such a ridiculous face-crusher that peoples' heads imploded every time he simply walked into a room.  For eighteen months he punched trees, ran through the wilderness, lived off the land in a homemade shack, meditated while kneeling under freezing-cold waterfalls, and broke rocks with his fists.  In 1947 he came down the mountain to win the Japanese National Martial Arts Championship, and then promptly went right back up the mountain for another eighteen months.

Oyama beating the shit out of a tree.

Confident that he was the awesomest dude to ever cause pain to an inanimate object with his forehead, Oyama came down the mountain and, in 1953, founded a dojo to train n00bs in how to stop sucking ass and being a bunch of pathetic wussbags.  He implemented a tough, grueling training program of full-contact martial arts, and pretty much everyone who came through his school found themselves injured at some point or another during their training.  It's kind of hard to get people to want to pay you money so that you can pummel them senseless, though, so Mas Oyama went on the road with a series of promotions across Japan to drum up support for his program.

Nowadays, martial arts school promotions involve a lot of board-kicking and Jock Jams soundtracks, but Mas Oyama's style of publicizing his art was just as borderline-psychotic as he was.  This guy would fight bulls with his bare hands.  A lot.  In fifty-two separate battles with full-sized, pissed-off steers, this guy killed three outright with one punch a feat that earned him the completely-awesome nickname "The Godhand", by the way and defeated 49 more by either wrestling them to the turf or chopping off their horns with a well-placed iron-plated judo chop.  WTF, dudes.


Mas Oyama also enjoyed testing himself in Kumite, which is the Japanese word for getting jumped by a hundred dudes at once and beating them all into bloody stumps.  Over the course of three days, Oyama fought 300 sparring matches, one after the other, and defeated all comers. He was so tough that even on the third day of nearly non-stop fighting people who were blocking his punches were ending up with broken arms.  When it was all over, Oyama thought the kumite was so awesome that he made a 100-man battle the requirement for getting your fourth-degree black belt in Kyokushinaki Karate.  To this day, you need to fight a hundred full-contact matches in a row, win over 50% of them, and not be knocked down for more than five seconds at any time in the trial.  This is insanity.

Mas Oyama, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer in 1994 at the age of 70, but his legacy continues to live on.  His famous all-world karate tournaments, where masters of all styles could come together and fight each other, serve as the basis for the plot of nearly every fighting game ever, he was the main character in a couple of utterly-terrible Sonny Chiba movies called Champion of Death and Karate Bear Fighter  Today his school now boasts over 10 million enrolled members across 120 countries and is widely belived to be one of the most hardcore fighting styles capable of human comprehension.  If I saw a guy kill a bull with his fists, I'd probably want to learn his secrets as well.

"It is possible for even the smallest of accolades of achievement to be truly worthwhile without tears and toil?"


U.S. Kyokushin



Beasley, Johnny.  Mastering Karate.  Human Kinetics, 2003.

Meyers, Richard.  Great Martial Arts Movies.  Citadel, 2001.

Oyama, Mas.  Classic Karate.  Sterling, 2004.

Oyama, Mas.  They Kyokushin Way.  Japan Publications, 1979.


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