Honoring a Legend

In 1966, a 30-year old karate instructor who had just completed 100-kumite traveled from Tokyo to New York at the request of the owner of the White Plains School of Self-defense. He came with the intention of doing his teacher’s bidding: to build the reputation of Kyokushinkai Karate in the United States. However, it was not his intention to remain in the U.S. Rather, he hoped to return to Japan to become an architect.

That young man was Sensei Shigeru Oyama. In 1966, neither his instructor, Mas Oyama, nor his U.S. sponsor, imagined that Sensei Oyama would inspire tens of thousands of students across the Americas, Europe and Asia to be strong for themselves and their loved ones, to seek out and accomplish ambitious goals, and to make the world a better place. Even Sensei Oyama could not have imagined that his efforts would be requited with admiration, impassioned loyalty and love from thousands of students and families whose lives that he would touch.

After recognizing the charisma and unsurpassed teaching ability of young Shigeru Oyama, Mas Oyama changed his mission: “You will die in the U.S.,” ordered the Kyokushinkai-kan Founder. Dutifully, instead of returning to Japan, over 50 years Shigeru Oyama built a powerful legacy of unsurpassed karate excellence that touched every corner of the globe. During his journey, “Sensei Oyama” became “Shihan Oyama” and “Shihan Oyama” became the “Soshu Oyama” whom we know today.

Sadly, on February 14, 2016, Soshu Oyama fulfilled Mas Oyama’s command when he passed away at home with his beloved wife, Patricia, by his side. Shortly before his death, Soshu Oyama proclaimed that his work was not yet completed.

This website is dedicated to the preservation of Soshu Oyama’s memory as one of the world’s greatest martial arts practitioners and instructors.

We hope that you will visit weekly to share anecdotes about Soshu Oyama and to learn about his most recent thoughts on martial arts training and philosophy.

If you have questions, email them to info@shigeruoyama.com.


Shihan Richard Romero
Seichou Karate Dojo

13 thoughts on “Honoring a Legend”

  1. With greatness sadness and a great loss in karate and the martial arts world will be very much missed


    Shihan Kaleem (Manchester UK)

    1. My condolences to the Oyama family and friends. I have had the opportunity to meet Soshu Oyama once and i will never forget the experience. It is definitely a sad day when one of the greats leave us. Rest in peace Soshu. OUS!

  2. The world of Martial Arts lost a great man this day. Words can not express the respect and gratitude I have for Soshu Oyama. I was always inspired by the passion he exuded in class or during training. Even today I quote Soshu to my own students on a daily basis. My two favorite quotes are “sweat more, work harder” and “there is a difference between hurt and damage”. Soshu you will be greatly missed…..

  3. Αισθάνομαι ευλογία και μεγάλη τιμή που μου δόθηκε η ευκαιρία να γνωρίσω έναν τόσο σπουδαίο άνθρωπο και δάσκαλο. It’s my honor and i feel blessed that I met sutch a great man in my life. OSU! !!!

  4. Soshu was a father figure to many of us. My first time meeting him I was a little boy about 10 years old. He came to conduct belt testing for the Spring Valley Dojo. I remember how he commanded such respect and had this deep powerful and intimidating voice. I was so nervous at that testing. I could not remember my forms. I remember him specifically commenting on my strength as a fighter (even thought id did not feel as though I did a good job). Even in my adulthood, I have continued to train in the way that Soshu has taught me. He was firm and tough but caring. There will never be another Soshu Shigeru Oyama, but his legacy lives on through us his students and family who will continue to spread his life work.


    1. I started in Kyokushin Karate, Scarsdale NY dojo, in late 1971 where then Sensei Oyama was the Instructor. I had training in Goju and Judo before that. He was the most dynamic and charismatic person that I ever met! I remained with Him and World Oyama Karate, opening branches in Hudson & Zephyrhills Fl in 1987, until forming the Sentoshinkai in 1991.
      A funny anecdote about him occured during a Friday night Black belt kumite class, when he was in especially rare form. he wasn’t speaking to anyone, just had a whistle in his mouth, blowing it to start and stop a drill. He then made a command to start another drill, and I didn’t quite hear what he said so I asked him, and he shouted: “DON’T ASK STUPID QUESTIONS!” I was shocked, and just said:”OSU!OSU!” to which he replied: “ONE OSU IS ENOUGH!” I would have laughed, but he didn’t seem in the mood for levity, and I always got in enough trouble with him. I knew he liked me a lot, and I loved him and respected him very much. I’ll write more as things pop into my head.

  5. I’ll always remember when I first began at the New York Dojo. At that time he was know to all as Shihan Oyama.
    His mother was in NYC for a visit (must have been 1986 or so).
    We always locked legs and did 100 sit ups at each class. He said, quite loudly, “Wendy count!” I was so out of breath, just doing th
    e sit ups alone, he was smiling that sly smile of his, he was proud. It made me proud too. I still cannot beieve how fortunate I was to train with him.

  6. Osu.
    The last time I saw Soshu was in 2014. He entered the room slowly…seemed kind of tired but then he started into his commands….I swear to you, the longer he was there teaching the class, I could feel his youthful spirit grow. It felt like the old days again to train with the Master.
    Will be missed everyday and there is not a day that has gone by without a thought or a memory of him. I will carry what he has passed on to me and will pass on that knowledge proudly.
    We miss you Soshu.

  7. I started training at the headquarters dojo December 1983 and trained there steady for the next 3 years attaining my brown belt (2nd kyu)
    I divided my classes between early mornings with sensei Rick, afternoon class with mostly sensei Hioki teaching it at that time, and evening class with Soshu who we called saiko shihan back then. I grew up in a family that was close but not exactly respectful to one another or taught to respect anybody else really. From the first moment I met him, I had this feeling of respect that I never felt for another human being before and it felt really nice to feel that way about somebody else.
    The new students at the dojo had their names written on their gi in Japanese with magic marker by the uchi deshi (house students) until they got to know them. At the end of every class when we lined up to give soshu both our hands with a very loud osu, I’ll never forget how honored I felt when soshu shook my hand and said osu Scott without having to look down at my gi to read my name. This man who I’ve grown to love and respect in such a short time knew who I was.
    Here are some of the things I remember him saying in class that always stuck with me
    “If you get in a fight on the street, throw everything you have at the other guy for about 10 seconds , if you couldn’t hurt him with that, turn around and run away , especially if you drew blood, because when someone sees their own blood they become more raged ”

    He would always tell the young students
    “When you’re young your brain is soft and absorbs everything, so take in all the information you can now because when you get older your brain hardens and can’t take in as much”

    I’ll end with a story about the person he was and the feeling he had for his students
    I’ve became a New York City firefighter in February 1995 & was assigned to work at engine company 10 which is the firehouse right across the street from the World Trade Center. Even though I wasn’t training at the dojo at that time , Soshu new I was a fireman downtown (which I’d like to think made him proud because the times I did take class after I became a firefighter, in class he would always refer to me as “fireman ” with a huge grin on his face.
    I was there for the day of the attack & stayed down there for three more days looking for survivors before they ordered us home, because most of us didn’t want to leave.
    When I finally got home my wife said there was a message from Soshu on the answering machine

    With all the messages on my machine by everyone concerned about my safety, Soshus was the first
    “Osu Scott , it’s Soshu, just want to make sure you’re OK ”
    I can’t tell you how good this made me feel at such a horrific time

    Sorry for the long comment and the horrible grammar, just wanted to share some of my personal feelings with a man that had such a big influence & impact on my life & a man I will never forget and love forever

  8. Soshu Shigeru Oyama was perhaps the most awe – inspiring person I ever did meet. It was an honor to have trained with the man and the legend. Respect was the mantra. The mightiest in the mightiest, Soshu was also a gentle, loving soul. The world lost one of it’s finest .Heartfelt condolences to the Oyama family.

  9. 大山茂師範、日本ではウィリーウィリアムスの先生として有名でした。ウィリーは、1980年日本のプロレスラーアントニオ猪木氏と戦った事で、一躍有名になりました。しかし、実は、大山茂師範の功績が大変素晴らしいものであるという事は、後で知りました。極真会館世界大会のチャンピオン達が、大山茂師範に支持し、そして優勝した話は、日本の空手界では有名な話です。第1回チャンピオン佐藤勝昭師範、第2回、3回チャンピオン中村誠師範、第4回チャンピオン松井章圭師範達が渡米し、大山茂師範に習った事により、世界大会にて日本の優勝を保つ事が出来ました。その後も、多くの日本の若者達が、大山茂師範に憧れアメリカに渡っています。大山茂師範が亡くなったことは、日本でも大きなニュースとなりました。そして多くの人々が悲しみました。

  10. OSU! My journey into karatedo began in the summer of 1982 when I was a child at the U.S. Kyokushinkai-kan Karate Honbu Dojo at 350 6th Avenue in Manhattan. My teacher was Soshu Shigeru Oyama, who was known at that time as Saiko Shihan Shigeru Oyama. I trained hard and earned my junior brown belt in 1983, but life took me away from the dojo. Then, in 1999, I returned to the Honbu as an Uchideshi (live-in student) where I trained until 2002. I was deeply fortunate to earn my shodan (first degree black belt) from Soshu in 2000 and my nidan (second degree) from him in 2001.

    During those four years, I learned many lessons that are too numerous to list here. However, two things in particular stand out for me. He would sometimes say, “you are me and I am you,” which I understood to emphasize the oneness of human beings. Then, at other times he would say “one punch can save your life; one kick can save your life; never forget this.” I took this admonition to mean that we must always practice karate sincerely with a view to the potential self-defense value of keiko (training). In retrospect, these two lessons will reverberate through my life and – I hope – through the lives of my students because they challenge us to value others and to make good use of each day because life is precious.

    I am very fortunate to have trained under Soshu Oyama for many years and to earn my sandan (third degree) from him in 2010. In fact, words simply do not convey my gratitude to him for teaching me the physical practice of karate and opening my eyes to the spiritual practice of karate. Soshu is the BEST. Rest in peace Soshu Oyama. OSU, SOSHU!

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