Tag Archives: mas oyama

Extreme Martial Arts Workout!

The Boulder in Your Backyard

Good weekend to you!
You know what I’m going to say…
work out!
It’s the best way
to make yourself better.

Oinkly donkey,
let’s talk about hard core.
One of my favorite stories is Mas Oyama.
Mas was a Korean
who went to Japan after WW2.
He wanted to study Karate,
and the Japanese,
(Shotokan, I believe)
wouldn’t let him.
Word is…
they actually peed on him.
this didn’t sit well with Mas,
so he went up into the mountains,
spent a year in seclusion.
Doing his forms.
Practicing breaking techniques
on boulders.
Take a frozen boulder,
chop with the hand,
and it breaks.
Anybody up for that?

a year passes,
and Mas figures
he hasn’t been in the mountains long enough.
Hasn’t run barefoot through the snow long enough.
he spends another year
in the freezing snow,
doing his forms,
breaking boulders with a chop.

Then he comes down,
goes back to the Japanese
somebody gimme a towel…
there seems to be blood on the floor!

Mopped up those suckers.

I read this story,
several places,
and it was in a movie,
and there seems to be enough truth to it.

What is interesting
is that instructor knew Mas.

My instructor was a skinny, little guy.
But he studied with Don Buck,
and Don was Mas Oyama’s favorite American.
so Bob had to have met and known
this Karate legend.

what I am more interested in
is the work outs Mas must have done.

I live on a mountain,
and I have to chop wood or I freeze.
I have to plant crops,
or food gets scarce.
There work to be done around here.
Sometimes it seems like
there isn’t much time for a work out.

but there is.
There is always time.
You just decide what you want to do
and then you make your life work.
Sometimes it’s tough.
Life says you got to do something else.
you don’t.

Want to hear a neutronic truth?

If you don’t do,
what you want to do,
then you are wasting your life.

you have to live,
you have to work,
you have to contribute
to the society around you.
you still have a higher duty to yourself.

if you want to work out,
and life starts getting in the way,
you just bully life
into doing what you want.

I can’t tell you how important this is.

Sometimes it is tough,
sometimes it is easy,
you still have to make life do what you want it to.

it is YOUR life.
Not some politician’s,
not your daddy’s,
not your child’s,
not your boss’s,
not anybody but yours.

here comes the question…
do you have a boulder in your backyard?
you don’t have to live in the mountains.
Mas had to be crazy, right?
Anybody who feels he has to go live in the wilderness
to be a better person…
that guy has to be nuts.

do you have a boulder in your backyard?
It’s a simple thing.
Or a stack of bricks?
Or a 100 foot tall redwood for a maki wara?
Or some other way to practice your basics
every single day.

You see,
when you get down and dirty,
when you reach the state of mind
that requires breaking snow covered boulders
in the high, high mountains,
you realize something…
it is not that fancy form that is so important,
it is not that complex move
that you wouldn’t have time to do in a fight.
It is your basics.
It is breathing into your movement,
sinking your weight
and aligning,
figuring out how to let go
so that energy comes out of you
with no effort.

do you have a boulder in your backyard?

Have a great work out!


Here’s the link for…THE PUNCH


That’ll help you make little rocks out of big rocks.

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Bob Babich, Mas Oyama, and the Kang Duk Won

Behind the Scenes at the Kang Duk Won

This post concerning Mas Oyama, Don Buck, and other early pioneers in American Karate, was actually written by Master Instructor BJ. I didn’t know some of this, and there is no way I can compete with the original words presented here. I suggest you do a little googling of the names involved to pad out what you’re about to read. It is well worth it. The original post appeared on KangDukWon.com.

The Story of the Kang Duk Won in America

Sifu Al, you probably know this already but when teenage Don Buck started training with Duke Moore in 1946 fresh out of the US Navy where Don was the US Navy Pacific Fleet 137lb Champion and also wrestled and studied Combat Judo & Defendu.

duke moore, don buck,mas oyama, kang duk won,karate,kenpo

From the Hawaiian Karate Museum, John D. Pell collection. John Pell, Don Buck, Mas Oyama, Gosei Yamaguchi.

By the Mid-50s Don Buck was a Body Building champion and San Francisco Cop in addition to being a black belt in Moore’s Judo & JJ.   Buck & Moore started studying Shorinji Ryu Karate with one of Duke’s teachers, Richard Kim.  One of Kim’s Korean student’s came to the US to work as a Pro Wrestler.  Of course I’m talking about Mas Oyama.

BTW, Mas Oyama’s Karate and Masahiko- Gracie JJ Defeater- Kimura Judo workout partners in the Early 1950’s were Tak Kubota and Taiji Kase!  In fact the gnarled hand on one of Mas Oyama’s early books- ghost written by Don Draeger- was actually Kubota’s.

After WWII Kimura worked as a Pro Wrestler in Europe and N&S America.  He hooked Mas Oyama up with some wrestling promoters here in the US and Mexico so Oyama could make some money.

Mas Oyama set his US base up in San Francisco where he could continue his training with his Sensei Richard Kim.  While not wrestling Oyama lived with Kim’s JJ student Duke Moore and taught/worked out with Duke Moore and Don Buck everyday he was in San Francisco for 4-6 hour workouts.

After a little over a year Mas went back to Japan and promoted both Duke Moore and Don Buck to their Shodan ranks.  Buck opened his own Dojo in 1957 where he only taught Kyokushin Karate making his Dojo the first Oyama Style Karate Dojo to open in the US.  ***Please note that Bobby Lowe has the distinction of opening the first Kyokushin dojo OUTSIDE of Japan.***

mas oyama,norman rha,kang duk won karate

Mas Oyama showing impeccable breaking technique.

When Don Buck opened his Dojo doors in 1957 one of his first students, and Black Belts, was one Robert Babich. A year of two later Richard Kim had a skinny Korean Black belt fresh off the boat from Korea show up at his San Francisco Dojo.  As Kim was about to leave for Japan so he sent the young Korean to his student’s, Duke Moore, Budokan dojo where Moore promptly sent the Korean to Don Buck.

The young Korean didn’t speak much English but Don Buck told him to go change into his Dogi.  When the Korean returned Buck noticed a patch with a fist on the Korean’s uniform.  Don Buck asked what the patch said and young Korean replied something like, “Kang Duk Won Kwon Bup Kong Soo Do.”

After sparring and defeating Buck’s students he squared off with Buck himself.  Buck knocked the Korean down a few times but the Korean kept getting up and he finally knocked the much bigger and stronger Buck across the dojo floor and down.  Buck got back up smiling and told the Korean, “Your hired! What is your name?”  The young Kang Duk Won fighter said, “Norman Rha” and bowed slightly to Buck!

Buck was opening a couple of new Dojo locations and he hired Rha (Rha Jong-nam) and assigned Robert Babich to assist Rha with running the new Dojo.

However, the soft whip-like Tong Bei style punching and much deeper Chaun Fa stances of Rha’s Kang Duk Won Kong Soo Do were so much different than Oyama’s power punching that sometime after Babich earned his Shodan from Don Buck it was decided that Babich should open just his own dojo with Rha so as not to create differences of style with the Kyokushin students.  So they left Don Buck’s American Kyokushin Dojo’s to open their own KDW school.

As Rha was a poor Medical School student he and Babich shared an apartment with the agreement that Rha would teach Babich KDW in return for help learning English.  It should be noted that anytime in the 60’s and early 70’s Babich promoted students to Black Belt the Tracy Brother’s would try to hire the new KDW black belts to run one of their Tracy Brother’s Chinese Kenpo Schools.

The Tracy’s only hired the BEST fighters, both as teachers and Association School Coaches (Joe Lewis & Al Dacascos for example),  as school challenges were common and they didn’t want to loose their schools students, $$$, to another challenging school.  Babich’s KDW academy in San Jose, CA had a reputation of turning out some of the toughest fighters on the West Coast.

It is interesting to note, at least for me,  that Babich didn’t include Sanchin or Tensho in his Kwon Bop Karate that he taught in the 1970’s and 80’s until he closed down his San Jose Dojo.  Why I don’t know???


Thanks, BJ, for this wonderful bit of writing.

The reason Bob didn’t include Sanchin and Tensho, in my opinion, is that there are two styles of Karate, one fixed and one fluid, or Shorin and Shorei. Bob was not a large man, he was thin and whiplike, and the heavier sanchin style stances didn’t suit him, perhaps even worked against the fluid motions he was developing through the Kang Duk Won.

If you want to find out what the truth behind the Kang Duk Won, check out the first Karate form and applications, and the bonus material on historical uses of Karate.

This has been a page about Don Buck, Mas Oyama, and the early beginnings of the Kang Duk Won Karate.

Great but Inexpensive Martial Arts Training Device!

Good morning!
The party is over,
and it’s time to get down to some good, hard work!
Let’s start with one of the cheapest,
yet coolest martial arts training devices
I ever came across.
I am speaking, of course, of the humble cinder block.

Now, one of the best exercises
is a simple toss and catch.
You start standing up
with the cinder block held
shoulder height.
Doesn’t have to be straight out,
and you can play with in front,
to the sides,
or whatever.

You drop the cinder block,
as it falls,
you go into a horse stance and catch it
with your fingers.
you are working on an iron stance,
and iron fingers.

You can get a friend and toss the sucker back and forth.

You learn how to grab
without tearing up the skin of your fingers,
you learn how to keep your attention on the turn of the thing
to achieve the best grab,
and so on.

Fantastic exercise

you can put a couple of cinder blocks on the ground
and practice hopping up and down.
Practice hopping up into a stance,
and down into a stance.
Lots of brute strength will develop.
Just be careful,
if a block falls over,
search for a place and way to land
without turning an ankle
or landing on the block.

place a cinder block in front of you
and practice kicking over it.
You have to raise the knee
which is going to put more hips into the kick
and give it more power.
You can turn sideways
and practice your side kick the same way.

you take two cinder blocks and stack them.
Practice your wheel kick over them.
High knee,
hips and weight in the action
and your joints get real loose
and your kick starts to come alive.
You treat your leg like it was a bullwhip.

my personal favorite cinder block work out,
combines a couple of things here
and offers a mini matrix of sorts.
Place a cinder block on the ground
stand on it,
and kick in the four directions.
Turn kick, turn kick, turn kick.
Do a couple of hundred snap kicks with the right leg,
then do a couple of hundred snap kicks with the left leg,
maybe a hundred while turning first in one direction
and then a hundred while turning in the other direction.
Then do the same for the side kick,
then do the same for the wheel kick
or whatever kick you feel like working on.

a word here.
I used to go to class,
and I did okay,
and we’d all breath hard
and act like we had had our tails worked off
after doing ten kicks per side per kick.

But the guys who were winning
were going in the back room
and practicing 200 kicks per side per kick,
and then starting their real work out.

Do you get the idea?

Here it is in simple form…
you can take a walk,
maybe take a few thousand steps,
and not be tired.
so why can’t you do a few thousand kicks
and not be tired?
Once you get past the
‘Oh, that was tough!’
then things open up.
Once you realize that pain is in your head,
and that you just treat it all like taking a walk,
that pure, unadulterated concentration
will get you through the exercise,
then you can start to build up some real reps,
and your kicks will turn into real motherbusters.

It’s the difference between high school,
and a real job.
You know?

with all this in mind,
you might check out the second article I ever wrote,,
it’s in the article section of the Monster,
and I believe it is called
‘The Ultimate Empty Hand Exercise,’
or something like that.
Got pictures,
and a few other things you can do on the cinder blocks.

Okey dokey,
probably time to do my yogata,
I do it every day,
I’ve dropped off a couple more pounds,
shoulder feels great,
feel healthy as a horse.
Here’s the URL
if you want the ultimate combat body

click on this link
The Ultimate Combat Body!

I also wrote a blog on it,
more of an advertisement with articles,
but it’s not bad,
you can find it in the blogroll
at my wordpress blog
Matrix Martial Arts.

That’s about it,
a great exercise,
some places to go for more info,
and a blatant ad for Yogata,
can’t think of anything else.

if you didn’t receive any order you have made
over the last month,
let me know.
The mail is getting back to normal,
but if I have to send anything twice, just let me know.

go get yourself a few cinder blocks,
and have yourself a blast!



Energy and persistence conquer all things.~Benjamin Franklin

Put energy and persistence in the martial arts and you will conquer all things. ~Al Case

It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.~Jean Nidetch

It’s martial arts – not chance – that determines your destiny. ~Al Case

The incompetent with nothing to do can still make a mess of it.~Laurence J. Peter

Even the incompetent, with martial arts to do, will stop making a mess of it. ~Al Case

Send me your wins!