Sosai Mas Oyama
The founder of Kyokushin Karate, Masutatsu Oyama, was born in 1923. He began studying kempo at the age of nine and had attained the first level of proficiency (shodan) by his second year in middle school. In 1928, while enrolled at the Yamanashi Youth Aviation Institute, he began studying at the martial arts hall called the Shotokan, which was headed by Gichin Funakoshi. At the age of seventeen, he had attained second dan. In 1941, he matriculated to Takushoku University and, in 1943, began studying with So Nei Chu, a leading figure in the Goju karate world of the time. By the age of twenty, he was fourth dan. In 1945, he volunteered for service in the perilous special attack corps of the Japanese army and was sent south, where the fighting was taking place. But soon World War II ended.
In 1946, he isolated himself in a temple on Mount Minobu and trained karate for a full year. After having taken first place in the initial postwar all-Japan championship tournament, he decided to devote the rest of his life exclusively to this martial art. In 1948, he constructed a crude hut for himself on Mount Kiyozumi, in Chiba Prefecture, and once again trained strenuously, this time for a year and eight months, during which he fed himself on grasses and berries. After coming down from the mountain, in 1949, in order to train in breaking horns from bulls, he took up residence not far from a slaughter yard. During his stay there, he broke the horns from fifty bulls.
In 1952, together with Kokichi Endo, an outstanding judo expert, he traveled to the United States, where he gave 270 exhibition matches and appeared on television 7 times. Such things as his ability to break whiskey bottles with his bare hands surprised the Americans and earned him the nickname “The Divine Fist.” He was challenged by two American professional boxers and one professional wrestler and beat them all. Since that time, he traveled extensively teaching and giving lectures in America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
In 1953, Sosai Oyama opened his first “Dojo”, a grass lot in Tokyo. By 1957 there were real facilities and 700 members, despite the high dropout rate due to the intensity of training. The World Headquarters were officially opened in June 1964, where the name Kyokushin, meaning “Ultimate truth”, was adopted. From that point forward, Kyokushin continued to spread to more than 120 countries around the world, with registered members exceeding 10 million, making it one of the largest martial arts organisations in the world.
In 1977 Sosai Oyama visited Australia for the first time to attend the first Australian full contact tournament held at the Sydney Town Hall.
Sadly Sosai Oyama passed away on April 26 1994 at the age of 70 due to lung cancer. According to his wishes, as expressed to many of his senior students, Shokei Matsui was made Kancho (Director) of the International Karate Organisation.
Kancho Shokei Matsui
Shokei (Akiyoshi) Matsui started Kyokushin Karate at age 13. In 1976, he joined the Kita Nagare-Yama Dojo in Chiba prefecture and managed to achieve the first level of Black Belt in a little over one year. In 1980, he placed fourth in the 12th All Japan Open Karate Championships, when he was just 17. Soon after, he became Chief Instructor of the International Kyokushin Headquarters school (“Honbu” Dojo) located in Tokyo.
Both in 1981 and 1982, he took 3rd Place in the All Japan Open Karate Championships and then 8th place at the same event in 1983. At the Third World Open Karate Tournament in 1984, he took a remarkable 3rd place and became famous worldwide for his amazing spirit, strength and determination. He succeeded in winning the All Japan Championships in the consecutive years of 1985 and 1986 and then successfully completed the ultimate Kyokushin challenge, the “100 Man Kumite” in record time. In Japan, he became known as a man of “unparalleled genius”. In 1987, he became the youngest ever Champion of the World. In May 1992, he opened his own school in Asakusa, Tokyo and was appointed Branch Chief by Sosai Mas Oyama.
On April 26,1994, Sosai Mas Oyama regrettably passed away, leaving the Directorship of the worldwide organization to Matsui, who then became “Kancho”(Director). In the wake of the founder’s untimely death and the well documented backlash concerning Kancho’s extraordinary appointment, in June of the same year, Kancho Matsui remarkably staged the 11th All Japan Weight Tournament and then in November, the 27th All Japan Championships to which over 16,000 spectators attended. The following year, he produced the hugely successful, Sixth World Open Karate Tournament, to which 168 fighters from all over the world competed and more than 25,000 spectators witnessed.
In the past decade since assuming IKO directorship, Kancho Matsui has introduced, planned and produced not just one, but five groundbreaking events in the field of martial arts: the “World Cup” – Team Karate Championships, the “Women’s World Karate Championships”, the “World Weight Category Karate Championships”, the International Senior Karate Championships” and just recently , the “International Youth Karate Championships” to which over 1600 competitors aged 4-17 from around the world participated. A Most recent achievement was the creation of something that encompasses Kancho’s vision to “Expand and widen the stage of Kyokushinkaikan.” – Ichigeki Plaza.
Located in Tokyo, Japan, Ichigeki Plaza officially opened its doors in October of 2005. It houses everything from an official Karate Dojo, Ichigeki Academy (Kickboxing and MMA training), and even an organic cafe. This all-around health and fitness facility continues to promote and expand on the original philosophy of Sosai Mas Oyama to bring the spirit of Kyokushin to every corner of the world and make it available to all.
Currently, the International Karate Organisation has over 12 million members in 125 countries. While simultaneously managing the organisation from its headquarters in Japan, Kancho Matsui travels to scores of Branches each year visiting countries and cultures around the globe to teach and spread the spirit of the Kyokushin Way.
Shihan Nikola Cujic
Nikola Cujic began Karate training in 1967 in his native Belgrade, Yugoslavia at the age of 15. He joined “Student Karate Club” at D.I.F. (State Institute of Physical Culture). In 1969 his family imigrated to Australia. On arriving in Australia, Nik joined “Oyama Karate School” of Sensei Con Hardas in Newtown, Sydney. From that point onwards, he became actively involved in Kyokushin Karate and continues to be highly involved to this present day. His contribution has been in the form of Student, Competitor, Instructor, Dojo Operator, State and National Coach, National & International Judge & Referee, State & National Executive Committee Member, Branch Chief and Country Representative. He started instructing Karate in 1973, first in Balmain, Sydney Dojo together with Mr. Dom Fania and later on his own at Sydney City Dojo at the “American Health Spa”. Since 1978 he has been teaching in Caringbah Dojo in the southern part of Sydney. In 1999 he commenced teaching Karate professionally (full time) and in December 2001, together with his wife Joy, opened his present full time Dojo.
In the early 70’s, Nik competed in the point system competition with some success and represented Australia at the 1st Asian Pacific Tournament in Singapore in 1973. From 1974 onward, his main interest has been Full Contact (knockdown) training and competition. In 1977 he became the first Australian Full Contact Champion (Heavyweight) as well as Grand Champion (Yokozuna). Sosai Mas Oyama was guest of honour at this event and he personally promoted Nik to 2nd Dan in recognition of his achievement. Also present were Mr Takashi Azuma (currently with Didojuku) and Mr Daigo Oishi (currently with Kyokushin Rengokai). Nik was selected for the Australian Team in 1975, 1979 & 1984 to fight in the Kyokushin World Tournament, however he only fought in 1984. In 1975 he severely injured his hand three weeks before the tournament and was replaced by Mr Grant Radonich. In 1979 he had College exams (Mechanical Engineering) and was replaced by Mr Gary Viccars. In 1984 after the 3rd Kyokushin World Tournament, he retired from competition and concentrated on teaching, coaching and administration of Kyokushin Karate in Australia.
Some of Nik’s students have become State, National and Regional Champions and have represented Australia at International and Kyokushin World Tournaments. e.g. Mr Graham Porter, Mr Tom Levar, Mr Trevor Lowe, Mr Simon Kennedy, Miss Aleksandra Ivanovic, Mr John Whitford, Mr Steven Cujic and Mr Andrew Whitford. Following Sosai Mas Oyama’s untimely death and the political turmoil in Australia, he joined Kancho Shokei Matsui’s organisation in 1995. In 1999 he was appointed Branch Chief, and in 2001 was promoted to 6th Dan.
In his spare time Nik Cujic enjoys working with his hands in wood and steel. He has personally designed, manufactured and installed most of the Dojo weightlifting equipment, change rooms and office area, as well as all the steel structures in the Dojo for hanging bags, exercising etc. Nikola Cujic lives the life of a Karate teacher and puts his Dogi (uniform) on six to seven days a week. He regularly travels overseas to attend Tournaments, Camps, Seminars and Conferences in Japan, USA (including Hawaii), Canada, New Zealand, and Russia etc. When asked recently what he considers is the best part of Kyokushin Karate, he answered, “Through Kyokushin I have brothers in every part of the world.”