SOSAI MASUTATSU OYAMA PHILOSOPHY AND TEACHING
We have dedicated many pages to write about Kyokushin Karate and also to promote this wonderful style of Martial Arts, but not many pages are dedicated to show the philosophy of Sosai Oyama based on his personal experience in the Martial Arts. This section will try to express some of Sosai Oyama personal beliefs taken from the books he wrote. I hope this interests you and gives you a better understanding of Sosai Oyama Philosophy and also a better understanding of Kyokushin Karate. The writings below are taken from Sosai Oyama books.
Karate as a mean to
protest against the excessive use of power
from powerful organizations or powerful nations
"Karate has already conquered the hearts of young people throughout the world. These people have turned to Karate in the hope of realizing a dream shared by all people-at least by all men-of being strong. In this age of nuclear war, computerized fighting, and proxy wars in which small nations shed their blood for causes supported by larger nations, mankind turns a suspicious eye on warfare of all kinds. Violent strife among peoples in the twentieth century has stimulated such far-reaching sophistication of weaponry that another global conflict of the kind that has already occurred twice would threaten all animal and plant life on the earth with total destruction. In this age of over organization, it is only natural that youth should look to the rational, effective, and mystical oriental martial arts for a way of protecting life and home with nothing but the bare hands. But, in addition to this, people turn to Karate for a way to make a small protest against the excessive organization of our time. Today large organizations determine the fate of all humanity; the big nations run everything. Under such conditions, it is not surprising that people train themselves in the Karate way for the sake of restoring some of the dignity of the individual human being".
"The Kyokushin Way"
Mas Oyama's Karate Philosophy
On his later years Sosai Oyama gave much more emphasis to the importance of training not only the physical aspects of the body but also the mental and spiritual aspect of it, which in many Dojos of today those aspects are not been taught to the students, giving too much emphasis to the physical aspect of the training. Even Sosai Oyama had to reflect in the way he was training and in the way he had instructed others.
Kyokushin Karate must be
train and teach not only physically
but also Mentally and Spiritually
"Most of the tens of books that I have written during the past three decades have dealt with the techniques of Karate and with strengthening the body. Of course, since mental and spiritual training is essential to true strength, I have touched on these matters and on questions of morality. Still I can not help feeling that perhaps readers of these technically oriented books have not fully understood what I have intended to say.
I began my own training with what is called the Eighteen Techniques and with the system of Shaku-riki, but I soon discovered that acquiring physical strength alone is like attempting to carve a statue of the Buddha without dedicating one's spirit to the task. In my years of total dedication to karate and the training hall, I have often encountered misunderstanding and have had to give serious reflective thought to both myself and the way I have instructed others".
"The Kyokushin Way"
Mas Oyama's Karate Philosophy
Betrayal And Human Sorrow
What are the great causes of suffering in human life? The deaths of parents, brothers, sisters, children, and other relatives or friends bring suffering as can the tragic fate of a nation Enforced separation-as a result of death or other causes-from the beloved member of the opposite sex is another cause of immense suffering. But a psychological source of suffering that causes no less pain than the basic, instinctive grief over loss of a loved one is betrayal between friends or between teacher and student.
The story of Julius Caesar's betrayal by his beloved friend and possible successor Brutus is familiar to everyone. When the assassins turned their swords on the great dictator-who possibly wanted to become a king-he attempted, to protect himself and fend them off until he saw that Brutus was among them. His last bitter words-"You to, Brutus"-reflect the profound sorrow he must have felt at having been betrayed by the man he had loved and protected.
I write these things because it is not impossible that a Brutus-like person should turn up among the many people to whom I have taught the techniques and spirit of karate. And I do not know what I should do in such a case. No doubt I should ask myself why I had loved, protected, and trained the person on the way to perfection in karate. It is likely that I would be able to crush the man. But I would probably do nothing but grieve. it is futile to pursue a person who has already fled, and what good can it do to destroy another human being?
But, if the betrayed suffers, the betrayer rarely fares better. Brutus and his fellow assassins finally committed suicide in disgrace. Traitors generally lose all of their friends. I know several cases in which this has happened. Often treachery is inspired by desire for money or fame. But people who find out about it usually abandon the traitor, who is then likely to be betrayed by his own followers. Japanese history provides illustrations of this sad truth. The sixteenth-century general and military leader of the nation, Oda Nobunaga was betrayed by one of his followers, Akechi Mitsuhide, who was himself ultimately defeated and ultimately killed by a farmer. Of course, the suicide of Judas Iscariot is another vivid example. And Chinese history too is not without similar cases. For instance, Chao Kao, the chief eunuch of the first Ch'in emperor (third century B.C.), was a treacherous and scheming man who associated with anyone who would serve his purposes. He engineered the death of the infant heir to the throne but was later executed at the order of the ruler. He was forced to dig his own grave.
The truth is that we all live in a communal body bound together by mutual psychological ties. Retribution, either purely mental or imposed by the social environment, ultimately descends on a person who betrays the group with which he has elected to live. One of the most difficult tasks facing a human being is the selection of companions who will not betray. An equally difficult task for some people is suppressing any treacherous thoughts they might entertain against those companions. Social punishment will catch up with the person who betrays his group. And once punishment has been meted out, it is generally too late to remedy the situation. A person's character is often determined by the kind of company he keeps. This means that great care must be exercised in the selection of close friends.
In the past, I have trained alone in the mountains. I have often followed a fairly lonely path and have been branded as a heretic by members of other schools of karate. But with the passing of time, I have come to realize that human beings must live in close contact with each other. And, once I had seen that my way of karate lay in close human contacts, many of the perplexities that had plagued me were resolved.
I have been blessed with many good friends and students. I have had some unfortunate relations too. But, as I take a wide view of the past, I see that I have learned as much from bad friends as from good ones. Bitterness and suffering have been trials sent to me by Heaven to develop and and strengthen me. They have often caused me more pain than the blows inflicted by karate opponents. In this book, I offer the philosophy I have worked out on the basis of personal experiences in the hope that it will help my readers avoid some of the unpleasantness I have known while helping them at the same to understand the things that have given life significance for me.
"The Kyokushin Way"
Mas Oyama's Karate Philosophy
Success Demands Courtesy
As I have said, the life of the man who has selected the way he will follow and diligently pursues his course can be lonely. My own life shows that people sometimes retire to lonely mountain places and train with such devotion and in such isolation that other people come to regard them as mad. Now, as in the past, total devotion is the only way to do something meaningful and lasting. Nonetheless, the karate man must not be indifferent to the fate and condition of other people. The way we have selected is related to high aspirations and big goals. Though the nature of
these goals varies with the individual, my own interpretation of them is as follows: my way is the way of karate, which is also the way of humanity and which is consequently related to the way of heaven. No matter how lonely, we must all walk the way of humanity. Perhaps it would be better to say that we must never depart from it. Isolation is wrong. When I was in prison, when I was training hard alone, and when I lived in seclusion in the mountains, the hardest thing for me to bear was lack of companionship.
Man is not meant to be alone but to share contacts, emotions, and love with others. There may be such things as real lone wolves in the world of animals; but, because of his intelligence and the gift of speech, man cannot live cut off from his fellows. He requires a conversation partner, even if it is only himself.
This is all the more true for those of us who have chosen the way of karate. We have taken this step for the sake of other people and all of society, not for personal wealth, fame, or pleasure. Our lives are therefore only fully valuable when we are in constant contact with others. We must always remember to be kind and considerate and must abide by the customary practices of the society in which we live.
One of the most important things in preserving harmony among individuals and society is courtesy and mutual respect. Ritual and courtesy are often equated in ancient oriental thought. For instance, in the Tso-chuan, a commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, one of the most famous of the Chinese classics. it is said that ritual is the management of heaven, the affair of earth, and the activity of the people. By this is meant that the celestial bodies are kept in proper place and motion because heaven performs its proper rituals. Earth performs its rituals and
controls the mountains and the seas and brings about the growth and flourishing of plants and trees. Finally, ritual, in the form of mutual courtesy and respect, orders the world of mankind. Courtesy should be apparent in all our actions and words and in all aspects of daily life. But by courtesy I do not mean rigid, cold formality. Courtesy in the truest sense is selfless concern for the welfare and physical and mental comfort of the other person. Confucius, who, though too severe a critic of human affairs to be popular with all peoples, is nonetheless one of the greatest practical human philosophers of all times, said that it is courtesy and respect for the other person that enables a cultivated civilization to control barbarians. He also said that a person who does not know the rites and courtesies cannot hope to get along in the world.
Confucius said many other things that are of maximum significance to people in the world of martial arts: a brave man who has no courtesy is disliked; love of strength without love of learning leads to madness; love of courage without love of learning leads to disorder. The military man or the man devoted to the marital arts lives under constant danger and requires courage and strength. But the world condemns as wild and unacceptable people who depend entirely on strength and courage.
Consequently, learning and courtesy are even more important to karate men than they are to other people. After a few months of training, a karate man develops a certain speed and accuracy in kicks and thrusts. Walking along streets, he may feel a desire to try his strength on ordinary citizens, who usually unconsciously leave' themselves wide open to attack. Perhaps the karate neophyte is not good enough to combat more talented students in the training hall, but he thinks he knows enough to show ordinary people a thing or two. Indeed, in Japan, sometimes people with a little karate background—generally they are from college karate clubs—threaten or intimidate passengers on trains. But hooligans
of this kind are not truly powerful men of the martial arts.
A genuine follower of the martial arts feels no need to show off in front of others and regards intimidation as disgraceful. Violence on the part of the karate man is more frightening and arouses greater hatred than the karate man himself may realize.
I am certain that no one devotes himself to the martial arts for the sake of being hated. In order to prevent letting my own strength from getting the better of my judgment, I long ago established a motto to the effect that the martial arts begin and end with courtesy and that the courtesies must always be performed correctly. I teach the same thing to my students in the training hall. But my teachings do not always have the effect I want. For instance, one of my students in Europe—a huge man 2 meters tall and weighing 120 kilograms—was the strongest karate man I have ever seen among non-Japanese students. Operating a training hall in his native country, he had the ambition of eclipsing all other training halls; and this was fine. But he relied too heavily on his own strength. Then he became too fond of drinking and sex. He started borrowing money from students and found him-self unable to repay. His violent personality soon ruined all
popularity; and, before long, he lost his training hall to his former students. He ultimately became a bouncer and strong man in a red-light district. His case shows that strength—no matter how great- -without awareness of the common courtesies of life, cannot spell success.
Another of my students, who lived in New York, tried to use his great karate skill and strength in teaching in a training hall that I opened for him. But on the first day he proceeded to knockout most of the new students to show how strong he was. On the second day, half as many students turned up. On the third day, only about one-fourth of the original number appeared. Finally no one came, and the training hall failed. 1 helped him start afresh two more times, but on both occasions with the same unsatisfactory results.
As these two illustrations prove, strength in karate alone is not enough. Because I realize this, I have made Kyokushin karate world-famous not only for its power and for the rigor of its training system, but also for way it respects the courtesies of life. 1 insist that the instructor is in a position of absolute authority as far as karate is concerned but that he must respect his students if he wants them to afford him the courtesy his position demands.
I spend about half of each year traveling in fifty nations where, with the numerous instructors sent from Japan, I operate five hundred training halls. In my journeys, I am constantly impressed with the necessity of courtesy to both people and society. For the past century or two, the United States, proud of its economic wealth and its record of never having been defeated in war, has been held up as a model civilized society. But on the underside, in domestic life, no people are as mentally disturbed as the Americans. Individualism and money-grubbing have completely desolated their minds. All married couples lie in bed together, each member isolated financial calculations. These people are excellent examples of men and women who share the same bed put have different dreams.
The United States, a country that has overdeveloped by relying on its natural resources, seems to be unable to understand what it takes to be a true success in the world. The Chinese say that courtesy is the way to success. What do the Americans say?Probably money. Not only married couples, but brother and sisters and parents and children as well are isolated from each other. Children who become wealthy do not care if their parents must be beggars. America is spacious, clean and beautiful. I have often been invited into American homes to meet families have frequently been horrified by what I have seen there.
In the back streets of New York, not only at night, but during the day too, one encounters narcotics, homosexuals, and all manner of crime. Even a person who knows a little karate is not safe to walk the streets alone at night.
Can a nation like this, lacking both law and courtesy, be called civilized ?
After the United States, the next most lamentable country in the world is Japan.
After the end of World War II, together with materials resources, Japan imported from the United States both individualism and money-grubbing. Americanization of attitudes toward both daily affairs and human life in general has made Japan a barbarian nation.
Where are the young people today who understand the meaning of courtesies ? Watching the actions and hearing the words of young Japanese, I am horrified that Japan too will become like the United States.
Though the United States and Japan seem to be prospering they are actually retrogressing. I always think this.
Japan's only small hope of salvation seems to be the influence of a truly civilized society that it long ago inherited from China.
Personal greed and egoism are the things that cause human beings to forget respect for others and to violate rules that have been established for the sake of peace and friendship. Like all the other animals, human beings have such innate instincts as the drives for food, sex, and possession that are related with the very sources of life. But human beings do not live entirely for instincts.
Whereas animals, who are guided by instincts alone, are kept in balance by the rules of nature, man must live harmoniously according to the rules of his reasoning power. These rules are the courtesies. Since they do not allow people to do always precisely what they want, the rules frequently come into conflict with instincts. The person who cannot control and rise above instinct or greed lives a life devoid of the civilizing influences of courtesies and is ultimately rejected by other people.
But, as I have said, all human beings are gregarious and need the company of others. And this is all the more true of highly selfish people. Consequently the desire to live solely for the sake of egoistic wishes is self-contradictory.
Although I have described them as the rules of reason, the courtesies are in fact based on the fundamental human emotional need for companionship. In other words, the courtesies arise from the need to respect other people because the individual human being needs other people. But the person who understands human and social relations only imperfectly forgets that he cannot get along without the company of others. His egoistic greed emerges in desires to possess more than others and to have a better time than others or in his forgetting to be grateful that someone else is by his side.
Egoistic desires run counter to the gregariousness that is a basic part of human nature. Courtesies teach how to keep personal desires and instincts within suitable bounds so that all human beings can live in an equally happy way. It is impossible to eliminate instinctive desires completely, but each human being is morally bound to restrict his desires for the sake of the well-being of mankind as a whole.
Selflessness is the duty of all people who wish to live peacefully in the world. But, in order to attain selflessness, the individual must realize that it is, as the Confucians say, based on fundamental human gregariousness. Then, selflessness will lead to respect for others. When asked about human benevolence (jin), Confucius said that it consisted in conquering the self and returning to the rituals. This means that, in overcoming one's natural egoistic desires and abiding by the courtesies, a person can become unified with society. The highly advanced societies of the
United States and Japan are based on the pursuit of wealth and fame and give full play to human egoism. But the advances of such societies are good only for the luxury of a limited number of people. The abuses caused by stimulation of greed have caused society to forget the courtesies and have led to the brink of the collapse of civilization. As long as egoism is the driving force in society, all individual members will blindly seek only their own advantage and aggrandizement. The spirit of courtesy will be lost. The way will be lost. Decorum in interpersonal behavior will be forgotten. Society will become warped. Violence will be on the rampage, and society will face destruction. No matter how prosperous a person is in terms of money, if he has lost sight of the way, he will lack mental tranquility, which can only be attained by selfless pursuit of the truly human way.
The words uttered by Confucius twenty-five hundred years ago are an accurate description of the society of the United States and Japan today. To make some contribution to the betterment of these societies, I daily try to impress on my students the importance of the courtesies. I am not certain how much effect these discussions have had. I do know, however, that the students who best discern my meaning about the courtesies are the ones who persevere in training and, in one way or another, produce results. In selecting the karate men that I send overseas to act as instructors. attitude toward courtesy and respect for others have been more important criteria of judgment than strength and skill in karate. Though I have not yet had a student who seemed perfect in this respect, I believe that most of my students are greatly superior in the courtesies to the majority of other young Japanese. The way they behave convinces me and would, I believe, convince any impartial observer that this is true. Furthermore, Kyokushin instructors in other lands generally win respect for their attitude and sense of social decorum, though most of them
are only in their thirties. As long as they continue to live in a decorous way, they will be respected and admired wherever they go.
A man who understands decorum and the courtesies is a great treasure; I hope to train and send into society as many such men as I can. I hope that leaders in all the other branches of the martial arts share my wish.
"The Kyokushin Way"
Mas Oyama's Karate Philosophy
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