History of

By: Shihan Adnan Tarsha

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History of Kyokushin

By: Shihan Adnan Tarsha

Sosai Oyama and Kyokushin:

Adnan Tarsha
and Oyama in Tokyo in 1982

Sosai Masutatsu Oyama was born on July 27, 1923, in a village in Southern Korea. At the age of 9 whilst staying on his sister's farm in Manchuria, he first learnt the Martial Arts, studying the southern Chinese Kempo form known as "Eighteen Hands." In 1938 Mas Oyama traveled to Japan with the desire to enter an aviation school and become a fighter pilot, but he was forced to abandon his dream and find work. He continued practicing judo and boxing and his interest in Martial Arts led him to the dojo of Gishin Funakoshi and thus, he started practicing Okinawa Karate.  With his dedication, Mas Oyama progressed quickly and by the time he was 20 years old he had obtained his fourth Dan. It was at this time that Mas Oyama entered the Japanese Imperial Army and began studying judo in the hope of mastering its holding and grappling techniques. When he stopped training in judo, after about 4 years, he gained a fourth Dan.  Following the defeat of Japan after the second world war, Oyama like all other young Japanese, was thrown into a personal crisis. He found a way out of his despair by training with So Nei Chu, a Korean Master of Goju-Ryu Karate. This great teacher, renowned for the power of his body, and deep spiritual inclination had a profound influence on young Mas Oyama.

Master So taught him the inseparability of budo and the spiritual fundamentals of Buddhism. After a few years of training, Master So advised Mas Oyama to make a firm commitment to dedicate his life to the Martial Way and retreat to a mountain hideout and train his mind and body.  In 1946, Mas Oyama went into training, at a remote spot, on the Mt. Kiyosumi in Chiba Prefecture. He was accompanied by one of his students named Yashiro and a friend Mr. Kayama brought them food supplies every month. Through vigorous training, Mas Oyama learnt to overcome the mental strain caused by solitude but Yashiro could not bear it and fled after 6 months. About fourteen months later Mr. Kayama told Mas Oyama that due to unforeseen circumstances he could no longer sponsor Mas Oyama's retreat in the mountains and thus Mas Oyama's original plan of remaining in solitude for three years was brought to an end.  In 1950, Mas Oyama began his famous battles with bulls; partly to test his strength and also to make the world sit up and notice the power of his karate. All together, Oyama fought 52 bulls, killing 3 instantly and taking the horns of 49 with knife-hand blows.  Mas Oyama opened his first "Dojo" in 1953 in Mejiro, Tokyo. This was the time that Mas Oyama's karate strength was at its peak so the training was severe. Many students were members of other styles and Mas Oyama would compare styles and build on his karate. He would take what he felt were the best techniques and concepts from any Martial Art and gradually fit them into his training; therefore, laying the foundations of Kyokushin Karate. The first "School of Oyama" outside Japan was opened in 1957 by Shihan Bobby Lowe in Hawaii. In 1952, Mas Oyama gave his first demonstration in Hawaii. After the demonstration Shihan Bobby Lowe met Mas Oyama and arranged to train with him. Bobby Lowe's father was an instructor of Kung Fu so he had done much training in the Chinese Martial Arts. He had participated in any fighting Art he could; by the time he was 23 he had earned his 4th Dan in judo, 2nd Dan in Kempo, shodan in Aikido but Mas Oyama's powerful demonstration had stunned him. Mas Oyama invited Bobby Lowe to Tokyo to train with him and Bobby Lowe did and trained for over a year and a half. In this way Shihan Bobby Lowe became the first "uchi-deshi" of Kyokushin, a tradition that later grew to be known as the "Wakajishi" or Young Lions of Mas Oyama, where a select few are chosen each year to devote themselves to Karate for one thousand days. The building of the World Headquarters started in 1963 and was officially opened in 1964. It was at this time that Mas Oyama adopted the name Kyokushin "The Ultimate Truth". Kyokushin had started its spread around the globe and at present is one of the largest martial art organization in the world.  It goes without saying that a style is only as strong as the students who represent it. This is why it is the responsibility of all those who have chosen to follow Sosai, to train hard and forge and indomitable spirit so that the tradition of strength in Kyokushin Karate may be recognized by all for many years.


Kancho Matsui and Kyokushin:


Sensei Adnan Tarsha (3 Dan) and Senpai Matsui (2 Dan)
in Tokyo 1982

It was with much sadness that in late April of 1994, the Kyokushin family across the globe learnt that its founder Sosai Masutatsu Oyama had died in a Tokyo hospital. He is missed by not only the masses who have followed in his footsteps but by the Martial Arts Community as well. His successor Kancho Shokei Matsui (8 Dan) was named by Sosai himself to carry on the task of building and preserving the name of Kyokushin. Kancho Matsui was born in 1963, and commenced his illustrious Karate career at the age of 13. He quickly established a firm reputation for being a Karate man of exceptional skill and ability, with a highly individual, technically superior style of fighting. He took the basics he learnt in the dojo, and through intense and dedicated training, he made these techniques work for him. Students around the world continue to try and capture some of the essence of Kancho's style of fighting in their own training.

His exceptional tournament record, over three successive years in particular, led Sosai Oyama to call him "a true champion"; in 1985, at the age of 22, he won the 12th All Japan  Open Tournament; in 1986, he won the 13th All  Japan  Open Tournament; and in 1987, he won the 4th World Open Karate Tournament. Additionally, in 1986 he succeeded in the 100 man kumite, achieving the highest rate of knockdowns and wins in this ultimate challenge, which only a select few have managed to complete. Ultimately, the stature of the man is confirmed in his designation as Sosai Oyama' successor in Sosai's last will, and he now heads arguably the largest Karate organization in the world.


Shihan Adnan Tarsha and Kyokushin:

Adnan Tarsha

In Lebanon:

Adnan Tarsha is a Kyokushin instructor from the city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. Has started his way in Martial Arts in 1972. The beginning was to learn the art of Tae Kwon Do with the Lebanese Instructor Ahmad Abu Khazaal, and because his perseverance and dedication to training therein; has taken quick progress and became better than the students began months earlier, then he became the instructor in the absence of the instructor while is still in the Green Belt. Then made Demonstration in Tripoli and France in 1973 [1]. His instructor traveled to Japan to learn the style of Kyokushin with Master Oyama the founder of this fighting style, then returned to Lebanon as a branch chief of this new fighting style which has been approved by all the students to change to it and began intensive training for this new fighting style.

The instructor stopped coming to Tripoli from Beirut and appointed Tarsha as representative of this style. In this time he was in Brown Belt, he began teaching his students in various outdoor places. He have been invited to present Kyokushin demonstrations on various occasions attended by many audiences. A person enthused and presented to him a place to train in it, so he opened a training hall and began his activities there.

At the same time, he continued his training with his instructor in Beirut until he got his Black Belt (1 Dan) certificate from Japan in 1974. Then his fame increases day after day in Tripoli and a different authorities invites him to present Kyokushin demonstrations in their festivals, until he could organize by himself the biggest Kyokushin festival on the biggest theater in Tripoli in 1975, were he presented a series of difficult and dangerous demonstrations which delighted the audience and raised their interaction. A number of newspapers and magazines published interviews with him and reports about him [2], and several authorities requests from him to train in their places. Then in 1975 he participated by a team of his students in the Lebanon Championship on the theater of UNESCO in Beirut, and presented a demonstration in this championship, as well as took the role of judge.

Founder of Kyokushin in Saudi Arabia:

In the year 1976, and after the fame of Adnan Tarsha increased [3] in the world of Kyokushin and Karate [4] he informed his students that he will travel for three weeks to perform Umrah. He traveled to Makkah and performed Umrah with some friends who took him to the city of Riyadh which God preordained to him to remain there instead of Lebanon. He met several times with Prince Faisal bin Fahd General President of Youth Welfare who enthused and supported him and introduced him to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Governor of Riyadh region, and also provided him with a letter to the President of the Saudi Karate Federation to cooperate with him in the training field. This federation was established only few months ago in 1975.

In the same period, Adnan Tarsha met the President of the Federation who explained to him that the federation does not allow more than one style and their official style is "Shotokan" and therefore can not accredit his style "Kyokushin" so that there isn't two different styles. The meetings repeated between the two men several times, and in one of the times the President of the Federation invited him to join the training of the new Japanese instructor, to experiment his training with the other instructors and students; He joined the training with the Japanese who had been fought the instructors and students and hit them strongly and defeated them all to prove his strength and skill in front of the audiences. When the turn came to Tarsha to fight with him, it happened what the Japanese didn't expect, while it expect their fight to be for a few seconds then to change with another player, but the duration of their fight was for a long time which made the other players to stop fighting and sit down for a rest and to follow up their fighting. The Japanese failed to defeat him and repeating what he has done with the others where he faced a different way in the fighting prevented him from achieving what he wants and made him initiative to stop and to end the fighting that drew the attention of audiences. God Almighty preordained the fighting of the Japanese with him to be a reason to open a new and very important way in his life; among those presents there was a  prince of the Saudi royal family who joined the training with the Japanese; left the training with him and asked Adnan Tarsha to train him in a private lesson in his palace, and another three princes joined this lesson. Since then he began his way in the private lessons and teaching princes and the other people, and began to spread his style "Kyokushin" which was not known nor practised in Saudi Arabia; thus became the founder of Kyokushin in Saudi Arabia and the first person who introduced it in this country and taught it in 1976.

At the same time and with the fact that the Saudi Karate Federation was not accredit "Kyokushin" style, but Shihan Adnan Tarsha remained coordinate with the federation and with its President Mr. Muhammad Alqellaish. He participated by teams of his students in the Kingdom Open Championships, issuings the certificates and cards for his students from the federation as he is an accredited instructor in it. 

In 1981 he began to give a unique private Kyokushin lesson where Prince Abdulaziz bin Sattam son of the deputy governor of Riyadh region asked him to give him a Kyokushin lesson in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia where he started his studying at King Fahd University; so he started to travel by plane two flights every week from and to Riyadh to give this lesson which lasted several years until Prince graduated from the university and continued his training with him in Riyadh.

In Japan:

In 1982 he traveled to Japan to train with Master Masutatsu Oyama founder of "Kyokushin". Master Oyama received him in the headquarter in Tokyo in a very well reception, and organized a Special Welcome Demonstration on his honor where a number of Japan and world champions like "Royama", "Nishida" and others performed a Kyokushin demonstrations. An Arabic [5], English [6] and Japanese [7] Magazines wrote about this event and made interviews with him [8]. He stayed in Tokyo more than a month training with Master Oyama who also ordered Japan champion Senpai Matsui (2 Dan) to train with Tarsha in a private lessons alone in addition to the black belt class where both of them were training together with Master Oyama. (Matsui became in 1987 the World Champion, then became the successor of master Oyama after his death in 1994). In this training trip Adnan Tarsha got the (3 Dan) in Black Belt, which was supposed to get it some years ago, but circumstances did not allow it.

When he decided to travel from Tokyo, Master Oyama prepared a Farewell Ceremony for him and presented several gifts to him. Master Oyama chosen his successful Kyokushin picture and published it on a large full page in the 1983 year calendar of the International Karate Organization "I.K.O." which distribute to the branches of the organization around the world. Master Oyama continued sending him a special invitations to attend the World Tournaments in Tokyo as a special guest, and nominated him in 1990 to be the chairman of "I.K.O." in the Middle East in addition to being a "Branch Chief" of this organization and has published his photo in the Kyokushin Power Map in the world as a candidate for the chairmanship of group of Middle East branches chiefs. And also has published his photos for the second time in the 1990 year calendar. In 1996 Adnan Tarsha was appointed as "I.K.O." Advisor in the Middle East, and In 2003 was appointed by "I.K.O." as the Middle East Team Manager to the World Tournament in Japan.

Various Activities:

On the other hand, and in 1983, Adnan Tarsha produced the first sport work of its kind in the Arab World [9], where he produced two programs of exercises [10] on video tape [11]: One for all kind of people and the other for pregnant woman [12]. Then in 1988 he began presenting his program "Come and Train" in the Saudi Arabian Television, and was also the first exercises program of this kind in the Saudi TV [13].

The instructor Adnan Tarsha is teaching Kyokushin in different public and private places, and organizes camps and championships. He and his sons are also presenting Kyokushin demonstrations on different occasions, participates by teams of his students in the local, regional and international championships. He is the Supreme Judge or Chairman of Judges Committee or a member of Supreme Committee in the championships in different countries. In 2001, he has published his own website www.adnantarsha.com which is about his variety of activities such as: His published Islamic books, his activities in Kyokushin, his video programs of exercises, his sport program in the Saudi Television, his movie films, a various video clips and scenes about these different activities and various other topics [14].

Shihan Adnan Tarsha (8 Dan) is now a Branch Chief by Japan since 1982, and the Advisor of "I.K.O." in the Middle East. He is known as the oldest Kyokushin Instructor in the Middle East, and Founder of Kyokushin in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1976 [15], and has three sons teaching Kyokushin in different places: Muhammad Tarsha, Abdullah Tarsha, Abdulaziz Tarsha.


[1] Aljoumhour Magazine - 1973

[2] Almajd Arriyady Newspaper - 1975

[3] Revue de Liban French Magazine 1975

[4] Alshabakah Magazine - 1975

[5] Founoun Al-Karate Magazine 1982

[6] Kyokushin English Magazine 1982

[7] Power Karate Japanese Magazine - 1982

[8] Founoun Al-Karate Magazine - 1982

[9] Alousbouaa Arriyady Magazine - 1987

[10] Almajallah Magazine - 1983

[11] Al-Video Al-Arabi Magazine - 1984

[12] Sayedaty Magazin - 1984

[13] Arriyadh Newspaper - 1988

[14] The Internet Guide Magazine - 2001

[15] Kyokushin Karate - Adnan Tarsha Website