100 Man Kumite - The ultimate test of physical and mental perseverance

Kancho Shokei Matsui vs. Andy Hug

The hundred-man kumite might well be seen as the ultimate test of physical and mental perseverance in Martial Arts, or for that matter, many other sports today. In essence, the exercise consists of 2-minute rounds of kumite with 100 opponents, preferably a different one for each round.


Who's done what?
Some statistics about the 100 man kumite

Yamoaka Tesshu's Hundred Man Duel (hyakunin tachi)

During the mid-nineteenth century (Gregorian, of course) there lived a great sword master in Japan by the name of Yamaoka Tesshu, who was the founder of the Hokushin Itto-Ryo. This man is reputed to have completed a 100 man duel, in which he fought (and defeated) one hundred consecutive opponents with the shinai (the bamboo sword used to practice kendo.

Masahiko Kimura's Two Hundred Man Throwing (hyakunin nage)

Masahiko Kimura, arguably the most famous judoka in the history of the sport, was a close friend of Mas Oyama. Oyama said of him that Kimura was the only person he knew who trained as hard or harder than Oyama did himself! Kimura's record in All-Japan Judo title (12 years, including WW-II when no championships were held) was bettered only by Yasuhiro Yamashita, who held the title for 9 consecutive years. In the Japanese Judo world, there is a saying that goes "Before Kimura, no Kimura. After Kimura, no Kimura.

Though the author (Shihan Cameron Quinn) of my major reference could not confirm it, it is said that that Kimura completed the 100 man throwing against two hundred black belts for two consecutive days, and was not defeated once.

Mas Oyama's Three Hundred Man Kumite

Sosai Masutatsu Oyama

It was with these examples in mind that Oyama decided to test his own abilities. And he would go one day better! He chose the strongest students in his dojo, who were to fight him one at a time until they'd all had a turn, and then they'd start from the beginning again, until the three hundred rounds were up. He defeated them all, never wavering in his resolve, despite the fact that he himself suffered severe physical injury in the process.

Each student had to face him about four times over the three days, though some never made it past the first day due to Oyama's powerful blows. Legend even has it that Oyama was willing to go for a FOURTH day, but no one else was willing or able! This took place no long after he had completed his mountain training.

The One hundred man Kumite

Having set the example, Mas Oyama started to institute the 100-man kumite as a requirement for attaining 4th or 5th dan. He soon found however, that not everyone had the spirit to do it, though the physical skill could "easily" be taught. The indomitable will, courage, and determination the " Spirit of Osu" in it's extreme just wasn't to be found in everyone. Thus it became a voluntary exercise for those few who had the right stuff.

At first, the fights could be completed over two days if so desired by the person doing it, but after 1967, Mas Oyama decided that they should all be fought on the same day.In addition to the basic requirement of 100 fights, other requirements are that the competitor must clearly win at least 50% of the fights, and if knocked down, should not stay down for longer than 5 seconds.

In Australia, and possibly elsewhere, the 50 man kumite is a lesser (but still no mean achievement) feat that can be attempted.

Steve Arneil

In Great Britain, and anywhere else under the aegis of Hanshi Steve Arneil, anyone can choose to do any number of fights e.g. 10, 20, 30 , 40, 50 etc.... and he or she will get a certificate for this achievement. This in recognition that, while not everyone maybe able to meet the ultimate Kyokushin benchmark of 100 fights, personal bench-marks are just as important an attainment. After all, even 10 knockdown fights in swift succession can come to as much as half an hour of solid fighting.

Who's done what?

One Hundred

Apart from Oyama's spectacular 3 days in a row, a number of other people have tried and completed the 100 man kumite but not many. The list below gives the names of these incredible men, and it is notable that most of them are still very active in karate, having achieved a high rank. Some are even heads of their own styles which, of course, are heavily derivative of Kyokushin.

Initially, people had the choice do it over two days, with 50 fights per day, but later it became compulsory to do it all in one day.

    Steve Arneil (1965)
    Steve Arneil of Great Britain (now 8th Dan) was the very first, and he did them all in one day (pers.comm). He is now the head of the International Federation of Karate (IFK) based in the UK, and which is not affiliated with the Honbu in Japan.

    Tadashi Nakamura (1965)
    Now known as Kaicho Nakamura, he is the founder of World Seido Karate, based in New York
    Soshu Shigeru Oyama
    Shigeru Oyama (1966)
    No relationship to Sosai, he is now head of his own style, World Oyama Karate based in New York.

    Loek Hollander (1967)

    John Jarvis (1967)
    A New Zealander.

    Howard Collins
    He was the first to do it compulsorily in one day.

    Miyuki Miura (Friday the 13th, April 1972)
    The first Japanese to do it in one day, he now heads the Midwest Headquarters of the World Oyama Karate offshoot.
    Kancho Shokei Matsui
    Akiyoshi Matsui (1986)
    Akiyoshi Matsui is the (vigourously disputed) successor to Mas Oyama as kancho or head of the International Karate Organisation (IKO)(listed as IKO(1) in the this website - Shah). He was the winner of the 1985 and 1986 Japanese Open Championships, and the 1987 4th World Open Karate Tournament.

    Ademir de Costa (1987)
    This Brazilian was 4th in the 1983 World Championships.

    Keiji Sanpei (March, 1990)

    Akira Masuda (March, 1991)

    Kenji YamakiKenji Yamaki (March, 1995)
    He was the winner of the 1995 World Championships. He did his 100 at the same time as Francisco Filho below. His results were:

    ippon gachi22
    waza ari/yusei gachi (combined)61
    hiki wake12
    make5

    Francisco Filho (Feb and March,1995)

    Francisco Filho
    Thanks to Jake Calvo's Japanese magazine and neighbour (who translated for him) we know that this incredible Brazilian did it twice, within the short period of two months. The first time it was in Brazil, and the second time in Japan, on the same day as Kenji Yamaki. He then went on, in the same year, to also place 3rd in the November 1995 World Championships.

    Jake also kindly provided the results of Filho's two sessions. The Brazilian bouts were 1 minute and 30 seconds each. and the event took 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The Japanese bouts were probably the regulation 2 minutes each, with no total time provided.

    BrazilJapan
    ippon gachi (full point)4126
    waza ari (half point)1838
    yusei gachi (decision)912
    hiki wake (draw)3224
    make (losses)00

    It has been confirmed, by Sensei Ademir da Costa via Helder Sampaio from Brazil, that Francisco Filho practiced 50 man kumite EVERY Friday! While it was not full-contact sparring, (probably similar to what I know as jiyu kumite), and Sensei Filho pulled his punches, the 50 opponents however were not required to do so. It should however be noted that this was STANDARD training for any of the 1995 World Championship fighters in the dojo. It was not just Francisco who did it.

    All I can say is "OSU!"

    Sensei Hajime KazumiHajime Kazumi (Sat, 13th March,1999)

    Hajime Kazumi completed his 100 man kumite at the new IKO(1) Honbu. Results were obtained from the official IKO(1) site and are as follows:

    Time per Kumite1 minute 30 seconds
    Time Started11:38
    Time Finished15:42
    Total Fighting Time3 hours 20 minutes 40 seconds
    Total Spending Time4 hours 4 minutes
    Results58 wins, 42 draws, no losses
    Ippons: 16 (Ippon: 2, Awase-Ippon: 14)
    Wins by decision: 42 (Waza-ari: 15)

Fifty

The following have completed the 50 man kumite:

    Gary Bufton, Great Britain (March,1976)
    This was done under the then Sensei Howard Collins. In 1978 he also did the forty-man knockdown kumite under Steve Arneil.

    Bernard Creaton, Great Britain (1977)

    David Cook, Great Britain (1977)

    Jeff Whybrow, Great Britain (1978)

    Cyril Andrews, Great Britain (1978)

    Jim Phillips, Australia (Feb, 1986)

    Luke Grgurevic, Australia (Feb, 1986)

    Tony Bowden, Australia (Feb, 1986)

    Gary Viccars, Australia (Feb, 1986)

    Tom Levar, Australia (Mar, 1990)
    When I as a 4th kyu, I fought him in the semi-finals of the Open Division of the 1993 NSW Challenge Trophy Tournament. He was a nidan and defending champion. I lost. I ended up with huge bruises on my chest and around my calves, and with a split eyelid from his knee, and something loose inside my eye (that's better now!). But I was awarded an extra round of applause for fighting spirit (but no trophy)!

    Sapan K. Chakraborty, India ( Sep. 92 and Dec. 94)
    He first did it in India, and the second time in front of Steve Arneil in England.
    Michael Thompson, Great Britain (1992)

    Trevor Marriot, Great Britain (1993)

    Peter Angerer, Germany (20th Sep. 1997)
    Sensei Angerer, of Shidokan Germany, completed the 50-man kumite unbeaten, with 42 wins, 8 wins by KO, 0 losses and 8 draws. Two others, Heiko Elholm and Tobias Wallisch, both also from Shidokan, completed the 30-man at the same time. All three underwent the test in preparation for the 7th US Shidokan Open in November of the same year. The ordeal was officially witnessed by :
    • Dai Shihan Joachim Dieter Eisheuer, 7th Dan Kyokushin Budo Kai, 5th Dan Kyokushinkai
    • Shihan B. Mirza Bangsajayah, 4th Dan Enshin and Branch Chief of Enshin in Germany
    • Sensei Changdana Mutunayake, 3th Dan Enshin, 5th Dan Shotokan
    • Sensei Elena Ziegler, 3th Dan Jiu Jitsu

    Raoul Strikker, Belgium (13th Dec. 1997)
    Here's a paraphrase of what Koen de Backker, one of his opponents, had to say about it :
    Today Sempai Raoul Strikker (Shodan) did his 50 man kumite. His coach was Sensei Marc Van Walleghem. He fought 50 rounds of 2 minutes each without any breaks on knockdown rules. There were 41 fighters of whom more then 50% were black and brown belts, among them one sandan and two nidan, and they included the likes of Richard von Mantfeld (Holland), Koen Spitaels, and Gabriel Lothar, all of them world class fighters. It was hard, a real test of stamina, but he did it, although the last 5 rounds seemed to be impossible to overcome. Yet he did it! I had the 35th round, but at that moment his blows and kicks were still hurting very hard. Congratulations Raoul!

    Sjaak van de Velde, The Netherlands (24th Oct. 1998)
    Sensei Sjaak van de Velde (founder of the Musashi offshoot) chose to do the 50 man kumite as the fighting component of his Sandan grading. Shihan Jock Middelman (6th dan) and Sensei Marius Goedegebuur (3rd dan) watched as he completed it admirably with 41 wins and 9 draws! The following is a quote from correspondence with him:
    I had to fight for my second kyu 25 man kumite, Shodan 30 man kumite, Nidan 40 man kumite, Sandan 50 man kumite. Always on knock down rules. I think it is coming from Shihan Bluming who introduced Kyokushin in the Netherlands. He was (still is) always a very tough and very hard fighter and a lover of real combat.. On the end you MUST stand in fighting position. If you are not you failed.... ...I am at the age of 41 and I have been always a good fighter, therefore it was my choose to do the 50 kumite because its probably the last time in my life that I can do this (I think). I have no regret of it, it was one of the things you do once in a lifetime.

    Jim Sklavos, Australia (12th Jun. 1999)
    I must be getting old. I remember seeing a relatively young Jim Sklavos getting his Shodan while I was grading for 2nd or 3rd kyu! Now he'd no doubt beat me to a pulp, were I to give him a reason. Here's what he had to say :
    Last Saturday I completed the 50 men kumite at our National Camp on the Gold Coast. Shihan John Taylor and Shihan Gary Viccars judged the fights. People that I fought included Tony Bowden, Mark Tyson, John Hallford, Michael Maizey and others."

 

Some thoughts about the One Hundred Man Kumite

Francisco Filho vs. Hajime Kazumi
It is worth making some comparisons in order to put the 100 man kumite in perspective. Most of the readers here might already have an inkling, but some figures will help in appreciating Mas Oyama's unparalleled 300 fights.

A World Championship tournament might consist of 7 or 8 rounds of tough kumite, and with allowances for 4 extensions and no byes, this would come to just over half an hour of fighting. There would however be lengthy rest breaks between rounds, with time to tend to injuries. Consider a boxer going 100 rounds non-stop with no breaks and with a new opponent each round, and with the requirement of winning at least 50 of these rounds.

Imagine up to 4 hours of non-stop full-contact kumite, bearing in mind that in Kyokushin tournaments we are only allowed mouth and groin guards! To be fair, if the candidate is good and knocks his opponent down fast enough, the round can be over in less than full time.It seems unlikely that anyone will ever again achieve the same as Mas Oyama did with his 300 rounds!