The founder of our system, Masutsu Oyama, 10th Dan, has been described by some as being a "legend in his own time". He was born in Korea in 1923 and began his martial arts training by studying Kenpo at the age of nine.
In 1938, he moved to Japan to further his academic studies but also found time to master the art of judo. However, it was karate that fascinated him most so he joined a karate school headed by Gichin Funakoshi. He trained very hard every day and at the age of eighteen was awarded his Nidan. By this time, it was becoming obvious to him that this style of karate could not give him what he was looking for and therefore decided to study under a great master of the time called Sodeiju. He managed to attain the grade of Yondan before volunteering to fight in the air force toward the end of the second world war.
After the war, he spent a year training at Mt. Minobu, living in an isolated temple. It was after this years training that he competed in an "All Japan Championship", which he duly won. It was this event that prompted him to devote his live completely to karate. He isolated himself for almost two years on Mt. Kiyozumi, in Chiba, living in a small hut that he build himself. For food, he relied mostly on what grew and lived around him, which was presumably enough to sustain him during vigorous daily program. As the months passed, he became both physically and mentally stronger and many hours were spent in meditation.
In 1949, he came down from the mountain and took up residence close to a slaughter house. It was at this slaughter house that he got the opportunity to try out the power in his techniques on some of the bulls awaiting slaughter.
In 1952, he toured America giving demonstrations and exhibition matches. His breaking ability earned him the name "The divine hand", and he frequently made appearances on television. During this tour he was sometimes challenged be various people including both wrestlers and boxers and by all accounts defeated them all.
In 1953, he was approached by a Japanese film company who wanted to film him fighting a bull, which he readily agreed to do. In order to increase his speed he had to lose weight, for he knew this would be of the utmost importance against a fast bull. On the day of the match he weighed 180 lbs and it is reported that the bull weighed 990 lbs with horns four inches in diameter. According to the account in Kancho Oyama's book "This is Karate", the whole match lasted more than 30 minutes. His tactics were to tire the bull out by constantly dodging the animal's charge. At one point in the match he was evidently gored in the stomach, but this did not stop him from eventually toppling the bull over and chopping off a horn.
He later went on to fight more bulls, defeating them all in one way or another. He endured all this he says "in order to test to the limit, human ability and the incredible power of karate".