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How Mas Oyama drew inspiration from Miyamoto Musashi to embody rigour

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Rigor in the Practice of Martial Arts (Part 2)

How Mas Oyama Drew Inspiration from Miyamoto Musashi to Embody Rigour

In the quest for mastery in martial arts, there are individuals who stand out because of their unwavering determination and total commitment to rigour. Among them is Masutatsu Oyama, a man whose life was profoundly influenced by Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Japanese samurai. It is through Musashi's path that Mas Oyama embraced rigour, using it to shape his own existence and create the legendary Kyokushinkai Karate.

Mas Oyama was a man passionate about martial arts from a very young age. He sought a role model, a spiritual guide who would embody the spirit of the ultimate warrior. He found this inspiration in the extraordinary life of Miyamoto Musashi, a man who left an indelible mark in the history of martial arts.

The Rigour of Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi was known for his rigour and unwavering dedication to martial arts. He devoted his life to the pursuit of perfection, subjecting himself to strict discipline and tirelessly training to achieve his goals. His journey was a source of inspiration for Mas Oyama, who saw in him the model of the ideal warrior.

Inspired by Musashi's example, Mas Oyama decided to follow in the footsteps of this great master and give meaning to his own existence by incorporating rigour into every aspect of his life. He understood that rigour was more than just physical discipline; it was a way of life, a philosophy that shapes the individual from the inside out. Mas Oyama integrated Musashi's fundamental principles, creating a rigorous and demanding training method that prepares practitioners to overcome physical and mental challenges.

The Rigour of the Warrior's Way

Miyamoto Musashi was born in 1584 during the Sengoku period in Japan. He lived until 1645, during the Edo period.

At the impressive age of just thirteen, Miyamoto Musashi achieved a remarkable feat when he faced his first opponent in his first duel to the death against an adult armed with a sword and a simple wooden stick. Despite his youth, he demonstrated exceptional mastery of martial arts and a remarkable ability to use the sword with precision and efficiency. This early victory marked the beginning of a legendary career for Musashi, where he would become one of the greatest warriors in the history of Japan.

Miyamoto Musashi, Master of Death Duels

Throughout his life, Miyamoto Musashi participated in numerous death duels, which became pivotal moments in his quest for mastery in martial arts. He continually sought worthy opponents for his talent and growing reputation. It is estimated that he engaged in about sixty death duels, facing seasoned samurais and combat experts, thus proving his superiority and formidable skill with the sword.

These duels were often the result of challenges issued by other warriors seeking to test their strength against Musashi's. His fame as a formidable swordsman was well known throughout Japan, and many opponents aspired to measure themselves against him in an attempt to dethrone him. However, Musashi almost always emerged victorious from these confrontations, demonstrating his undisputed superiority on the battlefield.

Transcending Violence through Combat

So, although Musashi participated in an impressive number of death duels, his legacy goes far beyond these violent confrontations. His influence as a martial arts master and his teachings on the warrior's way have touched many practitioners throughout the centuries, making him a legendary figure whose name still resonates today.

Rigour in Martial Arts

In the mountains of Japan, a young boy named Miyamoto Musashi embarks on a journey to master the art of the sword. Guided by unwavering determination, Musashi seeks to achieve a level of skill and discipline unmatched. A wooden sword in hand, he spent countless hours refining his techniques, constantly pushing his limits.

Accepting Solitude in his Training to Achieve Excellence

One of the essential aspects of Musashi's rigorous training was his solitude. Aware of the need for deep introspection and targeted training, he withdrew to the mountains. It is there, surrounded by the beauty of nature, that he delved into the subtleties of martial arts with unwavering dedication.

Solitude provided him with the necessary environment to refine his techniques and cultivate his mental strength. The practitioner of a martial art who decides to achieve excellence must also accept getting up in the morning to train alone and doing several training sessions alone with himself and his dreams of success.

What is the Meaning of Rigour in Martial Arts?

Rigour in martial arts refers to the relentless pursuit of excellence through disciplined practice and unwavering commitment. It fosters personal growth, mastery of techniques, and the development of mental strength.

Musashi achieved mastery through rigorous training, self-discipline, and a constant thirst for improvement. He devoted countless hours to perfecting his skills, both physically and mentally.

What Lessons Can We Learn from Musashi's Story?

Musashi's story teaches us the importance of discipline, perseverance, and the value of rigorous training to achieve greatness. It emphasises the need for continuous improvement and unwavering commitment to one's craft as a warrior.

Musashi's commitment to rigour extended beyond martial arts. He also indulged in other forms of art, such as calligraphy and painting, with the same level of rigour, discipline, and dedication.

In conclusion, Miyamoto Musashi left an indelible legacy in the world of martial arts with his iconic book, "The Book of Five Rings". This timeless classic shares his strategic wisdom and vision of combat, offering relevant teachings for warriors of all times.

Musashi continues to inspire martial arts practitioners and seekers of wisdom with his book that transcends time and remains a source of inspiration for achieving excellence in martial arts and beyond.

In my upcoming articles, we will explore the practical application of Musashi's strategies and principles in relation to our Kyokushinkai Karate fights. Stay tuned to find out how we can integrate Musashi's timeless wisdom into our own martial journey.


Gaëtan Sauvé

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