Karate's Breaking/Tameshiwari was influenced by Korean power circus, Mas Oyama (Choi), Kooksundo

Steven Lee

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Jan 1, 2019
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==Karate's Breaking/Tameshiwari was influenced by Korean power circus, Mas Oyama (Choi), Kooksundo==

Breaking objects with strikes predates the introduction of karate in the 1920s. William Bankier, the strongman "Apollo", wrote about some Jiujitsu people breaking stone with hand strike his 1905 book "Jiu-Jitsu. What It Really Is". He also described how the heel or the side of hand was developed for this show.


Before the time of Karate, Breaking/Tameshiwari already existed, but it was not related to striking martial arts but correlated with Qigong, circus performance art, wrestling. In 1940 the "Japanese American Courier" reported the Tacoma (judo) dojo holding its annual tournament Sunday afternoon at the Buddhist Church auditorium. Masato Tamura's rock breaking demonstration via the ancient Japanese art of "kiai jutsu" was shown. Tamura was a well known judoka in 1938 (third dan during Jigoro Kano's visit to America in 1938).


Japanese Karate's Breaking/Tameshiwari was not invented by Karate but existed before that as Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu. Kiaijutsu is pronounced as Kihapsul (also called Charyuk) in Korean by using the same 3 Chinese letters.


Bob Hoffman, the founder of "Strength and Health" magazine, saw Japanese sidewalk performer performing Breaking before the time of Karate during World War 1.


Such kind of sidewalk performance art (power circus, power magic show) is the Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu/Charyuk, which was the original Breaking/Tameshiwari predating Karate.

Mas Oyama devised his own Breaking method when he introduced Tameshiawri/Breaking to the modern practice of Karate. Mas Oyama's book "This is Karate" talks about devising his own Breaking method. "After we had devised our own breaking methods we showed them to a very famous Chinese kempo master, who was awe-struck with admiration."


In the early 20th century, Kiaijutsu/Kihapsul was popular in Japan. It was a power circus that existed in both Korea & Japan. This power performance art had Breaking as corroborated by Masato Tamura in 1940. Later in the middle 20th century, this Breaking was formally adopted by Karate through Korean Mas Oyama including specific Korean traits like Yongryuk stacking speed, power, mass for strikes & rotating shoulder for hand strike. "Among Mas Oyamas many accomplishments, he is perhaps best known for introducing tameshiwari or stone breaking into the practice of modern karate."


It is also corroborated by other sources, "it was the kyokushinkai school under the direction of Masutatsu (Mas) Oyama which did an in-depth study into tameshiwari (the technique in which hard substances are broken with the bare hands


Mas Oyama taught a new hand strike which didn't exist in Karate. He introduced rotating shoulder (as opposed to stationary & squared shoulders in Karate after hip rotation) beyond its own waist past squared shoulders. In Mas Oyama's techniques, the striking hand side's shoulder protrudes forward beyond squared shoulders. He also introduced acceleration in strike motion, stacking speed & power in motions from slow to fast (as opposed to traditional Karate's impulse implosion & explosion at the beginning of punch) in hand strike. Such techniques for extra mass in motion & for extra strength were seen in traditional Korean hand strikes. This new hand strike technique spread in Karate by his teaching and by his book "Mas Oyama's Classic Karate" for his Tameshiwari/Breaking diagram. These Korean techniques were observable in 1927's Gitssaum Flag Fight rotating shoulder for punching chest, 300 years old Korean record using Yongryeok (Yong means stacking speed & power in motion) for Breaking/Tameshiwari, 300 years old Korean Gwonbeop picture rotating shoulder for punching front.




Kokyushin Karate & Mas Oyama (Choi) spread this Korean hand strike into the modern Karate's Tameshiwari/Breaking. (Kyokushin is known as the strongest Karate even today.) In the book "Mas Oyama's Classic Karate" page 157, it shows shoulder rotation for hand strike in Tameshiwari/Breaking.


This is different from regular Karate punch which the shoulders do not protrude (the striking side's shoulder does not rotate beyond its waist) but be squared at the termination of punch. According to the Karate textbook "Black Belt Karate" by Jordan Roth (p 100), "It is important also that the shoulders be squared at the termination of this punch. The punching arm should be thrust forward (perhaps only an inch) without breaking this alignment so that the shoulder blade ceases to protrude."


Karate punch does not rotate shoulder beyond its own waist after hip rotation; the shoulders end up squared in Karate punch. Also, Karate punch is associated with explosion & implosion at the beginning of the punch in a jerky motion. The hand strike Mas Oyama taught to Karate's Tameshiwari/Breaking is like Korean hand strike historically documented.

According to the book "The fighting spirit of Japan and other studies" by Ernest John Harrison published in 1913, Japan also had had a sport called Kiaijutsu. Kihapsul/Charyuk/Kiaijutsu is not solely a Korean sport but also existed in Japan, including Breaking/Tameshiwari, before the time of Karate and Mas Oyama. Breaking/Tameshiwari concept existed in all China, Korea, Japan. However, Kamesuke Higashioona's Breaking shows hand strike techniques identical to Karate but different from Mas Oyama & Korean hand strike, which rotate shoulder while stacking speed & power without any implosion & explosion. Mas Oyama introduced such Korean strike into Karate's Tameshiwari/Breaking while he introduced Breaking to be a culture & curriculum of modern Karate practice.

Karate was seen Tameshiwari/Breaking in 1933 by Kamesuke Higashioona. Because this was before the time when Mas Oyama taught Korean striking techniques, his shoulders are squared instead of the striking side's shoulder being protruded (pushed, turned, rotated) forward. This was also before the time that Mas Oyama introduced Tameshiwari/Breaking to be a modern Karate's culture and curriculum.

Gichin Funakoshi was also videotaped for performing Tameshiwari as well as rotating hip for hand strikes. However, his shoulder does not rotate beyond squared shoulder after his hip rotation. This is different from Mas Oyama's hand strike technique which rotates shoulder beyond its own waist past squared shoulders. The level of Breaking/Tameshiwari was also inferior. Gichin Funakoshi & Kamesuke Higashioona managed to break only 3 wooden boards or a couple roof tiles. This is far below the level of Karate Breaking/Tameshiwari the world got used to since Oyama's Tameshiwari/Breaking era. Historically, Korean hand strikes were seen rotating shoulder beyond its waist (shoulder protruding beyond its own waist by rotation towards front) as well as stacking (Yong means stacking speed & power) speed in motion. The hand strike technique Mas Oyama taught resembles Korean hand strike technique. As for Karate performing Tameshiwari/Breaking before the time of Mas Oyama, it could be either from how Japan also had had Kiaijutsu (this is not a solely Korean sport) or from Chinese Iron Palm's Breaking/Tameshiwari culture (Iron Palm also has shown Breaking).

==History of breaking in Korea, power circus, Kooksundo==

In 1934's reputable Korean newspaper, there's a sport called Yuk-ki (匪萼) breaking soft shingles (roof tiles) with fist strike.


There are many reputable & old Korean newspaper records that show the derivations of the name Charyuk (like Yuk-ki) as well as the explicit name Kihapsul together. The names Charyuk (麆刺), Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu (篣堅拖/瘞銵), Kooksundo (窱原) are associated together.

There are many reputable & old Korean newspaper records that show the derivations of the name Charyuk (like Yuk-ki) as well as the explicit name Kihapsul together.


In 1692, Korean Ikmyung Yang broke a stone with hand strike using Yongryuk (stacking speed, power, mass in the entire body).


400 years ago, there were many Korean history books all recording the same event of Korean Hand Breaking a large stone as big as a Soban table.


In today's Korea, Breaking/Tameshiwari is often done by Taekwondo, Kooksundo (Korean Taoist Qigong), Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu, Taekkyeon, Gyeoksul, etc. Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu is a power circus, power performance art, power magic show, sidewalk performance art which had Breaking/Tameshiwari before Karate, predating Karate & Karate's Breaking. It is correlated with Chinese Qigong & Korean Kooksundo, Seonsul. Chinese Iron Palm is also known to have shown breaking layers of cinder blocks with a straight palm slap 100 years ago (photographed) as well as driving a car across a human belly lying on the ground (Charyuk shows such feats of strength as well, not just Breaking). Shoulder-push means turning (pushing, rotating) shoulder forward when punching instead of the shoulders being stationary & square. Yong means stacking speed, power, mass in an accelerating manner instead of impulse explosion & implosion at the beginning of punch.

Kooksundo (Seonsul) is also correlated with Kihapsul/Charyuk; Kooksundo's Qigong Yoga has striking motion including hand strikes. However, Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu itself comes from trial & error as feats of strength. Chinese Iron Palm also has been photographed 100 years ago for showing Breaking/Tameshiwari of layers of cinder blocks. Charyuk/Kihapsul's Breaking/Tameshiwari originally had no relation to striking martial art. Strikes were created in the power circus by trial & error trying with common sense strikes from everyday-life to improve, then to teach what's already been created & improved including various hand shapes like Knife Hand. (From common sense hitting, techniques are developed & more variety is added. Charyuk/Kihapsul's Breaking had no relation to striking martial art in concept nor techniques before the time of Karate.) Charyuk/Kihapsul Breaking typically uses everyday-life motions like headbutt, punching, Knife Hand (like massaging), stomping (no special kicking), etc rather than martial art exclusive motions such as roundhouse kick. After striking martial arts adopted Breaking/Tameshiwari from power circus, they added Breaking objects with more various moves which are not done in typical power circus Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu/Charyuk today or before.

Korean had martial arts (or Fight Game, pseudo-martial arts) like Subak which had frontal slap & punch like Taekkyeon (including Yetbub), Gwonbeop, Gitssaum (Flag Fight), Pyunssaum, Sibak. However, Breaking's strikes were created in the power circus Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu by trial & error trying with common sense strikes from everyday-life. The strikes improved; they started teaching what's already been created & improved (from common sense hitting, techniques are developed & more variety is added) including various hand shapes like Knife Hand. They teach the power circus (including Breaking's strikes) already created & improved without starting over the creation process at each generation. Strikes are learned by learning power circus including Breaking; martial arts were not involved. This is how Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu has worked in Korean society. Regardless of how Breaking's system and structure were for China & Japan (Iron Palm's Breaking culture or feats of strength like Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu), it was that way for Korea. This power performance art had Breaking as corroborated by Masato Tamura in 1940. Strikes were practiced by practicing Breaking. Not by practicing martial arts then doing Breaking. This is the nature of Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu. After the techniques are created, they have been passed down by teaching power circus including Breaking/Tameshiwari.

For hundreds of years, Korean has had a power circus (power magic show, power performance art) called Charyuk/Kihapsul which is pronounced Kiai-jutsu in Japanese for reading the same 3 Chinese letters in a different dialect. Breaking Game already existed before Karate in the category of power circus performance art, not a part of striking martial art but correlating with wrestling, circus, Qigong (also called Kooksundo, Seonsul).


Korean had Taoist Qigong Kooksundo/Seonsul already in 1922 as historically recorded by newspaper. Kooksundo has many Yoga motions which include hand strikes.


As for the difficulty of this creation process which some people object (they claim Breaking must have gotten its strikes from martial arts), the difficulty level is about the same whether people invent powerful strikes in martial arts then adopt them in Breaking or whether people invent powerful strikes in Breaking/Tameshiwari power circus. The process & the difficulty of creating powerful strikes are the same whether it's done for martial arts or for circus. Mas Oyama is also famous for using dogs & cows as a target of Breaking/Tameshiwari, which doesn't necessarily involve Karate for hitting or fighting animals.

Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu does not train callus specifically. Instead, it strikes with the body parts with muscle pads such as the heel or edge of hand. Muscle pads are hard enough to break stone but bendy enough to protect the skin from being squashed even without callus. Typical Charyuk/Kihapsul/Kiaijutsu does not hit with boney body part but delivers collision impacts with muscle fiber pads. Also, callus develops naturally if practicing Breaking/Tameshiwari often enough.

Steven Lee

Blue Belt
Jan 1, 2019
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Saw Gichin Funakoshi video. He does not rotate shoulder beyond his waist and squared shoulders when he punch. Mas Oyama added that. Also, Funakoshi's Breaking was weak. Also, his Breaking lacked variety; he didn't use stones and bricks. Oyama added all those.

Historians even agree that Subak doesn't refer to a specific 1 type format such as palm-only but refers to a general spectrum of different styles. Also, historians have documented Taekkyeon, Charyuk Breaking, Kooksundo, etc. Gichin Funakoshi's Breaking was weak and he only broke 3 wooden boards and several roof tiles. It was Mas Oyama that added stronger hand strike and varieties of Breaking such as brick, stone, etc. And these came from Korean power circus which had those before Karate. Go ahead.

There are no evidences that prove the opposite side. Subak had frontal slap and punch. Korean had street fighting games which Taekkyeon Yetbeop teaches. Korean had Breaking/Tameshiwari predating Karate. Gichin Funakoshi's Breaking/Tameshiwari was weak and was limited in styles. Mas Oyama taught Karate stronger hand strike and more variety in Breaking styles. All these are proven facts. There are no evidences that speak against these facts. Also, Korean Breaking was not from a striking martial art but from a power circus. It's a proven fact. There are many proofs. Whether Breaking originated from striking martial art or not, Korean had it as circus.

Just because Taekwondo is a liar doesn't mean other Korean martial arts are liars. There are historical records proving their legitimacy. They are older than Japanese martial arts. Japanese Breaking/Tameshiwari is very new. Korean had it before Japan; there are physical evidences for it whether you like it or not. Also, Charyuk, Kooksundo, Taekkyeon-Yetbeop, Nalparam, Gyuksul exist even today in South Korea and North Korea. Since hundreds years ago up to today continuously. They are just not as well known as "Korean" martial arts with Japanese origin.

I am proving facts with references. That's what I'm doing. Facts are facts, not about "presentation". No matter how facts are presented, facts are still facts, lies are still lies. And what I have shown are facts with reputable references. Subak has unbroken lineage? And Subak has front slap and punch even today in DaehanSubakHyubhoi (Korean Subak Federation/諻). Taekkyeon also has unbroken lineage going back to Dukgi Song. Dukgi Song also testified the existence of Taekkyeon Yetbeop including jaw breaking slap and front chest slap (slapping chest). Taekkyeon-Yetbeop also has punch. There are also Nalparam and Gyuksul in North Korea. Also, South Korea had Charyuk Breaking/Tameshiwari including Hand Breaking (breaking objects with hand strikes).

Mainstream historians disagree? On what topic? Which historian? What is the name of this historian? All my facts are referenced by historians. Also, historian doesn't mean Taekwondo gym teacher nor news journalist. Who cares what some gym teacher makes up with imagination? Many historians agree all my facts which have been documented by historians in many different eras.

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
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Mar 27, 2012
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Hendersonville, NC
That's an excessively long post, including some material that has already been refuted. Why do you reject information that doesn't agree with your extremely biased agenda?


Master of Arts
Jun 1, 2005
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Lots and lots of stuff ...

Ummm ... so?
I read a good portion of what you wrote, but couldn't seem to find any point to it. What are you trying to prove with all of your facts?
It seems to me that you have a very large chip on your shoulder, but I can't see what it is.

JR 137

Apr 26, 2015
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In the dojo
My Delorean with the flux capacitor works! I've successfully travelled back in time to a few weeks ago!!!