100 Man Kumite


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  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 1.5-2 minute rounds of kumite with 100 opponents, preferably a different one for each round.

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Yamoaka Tesshu's Hundred Man Duel

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

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

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 not 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, and many who have done it have been listed below.

When someone tells Hanshi Steve Arneil that he or she did 40 fights (or even just 20) for their shodan grading (such as was, and still is, common in some organisations, particularly in Australia) he is rather scornful about it and says it's a great waste of time, since the shodan grading should be more a test of one's knowledge of karate, rather than one's kumite abilities, which should be tested in a tournament instead.

HOWEVER, he says, if you think you can do it, come to one of his summer camps, and 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 recognises 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 (if you use the 3 minute limit used in tournaments).

  So 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

    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.

    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 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 gachi (full point) 22
    waza ari/yusei gachi (combined) 61
    hiki wake (draw) 12
    make (losses) 5

    Francisco Filho (Feb and March,1995)
    Thanks to Jake Calvo's (calvedo@usfca.edu) 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. Brazil Japan
    ippon gachi (full point 41 26
    waza ari (half point) 18 38
    yusei gachi (decision) 9 12
    hiki wake (draw) 32 24
    make (losses) 0 0
    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!"

    Hajime 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 Kumite 1 minute 30 seconds
    Time Started 11:38
    Time Finished 15:42
    Total Fighting Time 3 hours 20 minutes 40 seconds
    Total Spent Time 4 hours 4 minutes
    Results 58 wins, 42 draws, no losses
    Ippons: 16 (Ippon: 2, Awase-Ippon: 14)
    Wins by decision: 42 (Waza-ari:

    Klaus Rex (15th Decermber, 2002)

    Naomi Ali née Woods (4th July, 2004)

    This is the first woman to ever perform the 100-man kumite. Not only that, she was also the first woman to do the 50-man kumite! Here are the details in the words of Shihan Gary Viccars, as reported in the August 2004 edition of the AKKA Newsletter SHIN:

    The big day arrived (July 4th, Castellozorian Club, Anzac Parade, Kingsford, Sydney) and from the moment you walked in the air was just electric. Consider the quality of the fighters present: Shihan John Taylor, 8th Dan, Sensei Ritchie Saunders, 4th Dan, Sensei Glenn Gibbons, 4th Dan, Sensei Jim Sklavos 3rd Dan and Sensei Robert Lauretti, 3rd Dan as well as 15 other black belts. Naomi weighs just 60kg and 17 of the 20 fighters weighed much more than that. After I arrived I was honored to be asked to be the official adjudicator and my job description was to

    • ensure that all fighters were conducted under I.K.O. rules
    • that the rounds were 1 and ½ minutes each
    • that the fighting was spirited
    • that there were no undue or excessive breaks from fighting
    • that the next fighter was ready and waiting and
    • that Naomi had adequate opportunity for hydration.

    1.02 pm and the fighting commenced. From the outset it was obvious that this was going to be a very hard day at the office for Naomi. Initially the crowd was not vocal and for about the first 30 fights things were fairly quiet. Naomi was giving a good account of her and was continually pushed to the edge by her opponents.

    The crowd started to come to life from 30 fights in and the shouts and screams of encouragement were becoming more frequent and higher on the decibel scale. Naomi reached the 50 marks and I gave her 2 minutes to change her gi. She had previously completed the 50 man kumite so this position was not new to her. However, as I announced to the crowd, whatever happened from this point forward was a new frontier where no woman had gone before.

    For the next 10 fights Naomi seemed a bit flat and was pushed very hard and some of us had doubts about whether she could go the distance. However, all of a sudden she seemed to get her second wind and she went into the “zone”. Those of us who have been in the zone will no what I am talking about. It is that place where you are on your own and you know in your heart you can do it because everything bad has already happened to you and you can take it and get through it. You become unaware of your surrounding, even of the people supporting you and your opponent. You just know all you want to do is keep fighting.

    All of a sudden we were at fight number 80 and it seemed that there came upon the crown and everyone present a realization that she was going to get there. The emotion started to come out, the noise level went up considerably and all the black belts were there urging her on. It reminded me of Kieren Perkins famous swim in Mexico where everyone knew they were witnessing something special and even the supporters of the other swimmers were cheering for Perkins.

    Naomi was off in a World of her own and everytime she hit someone (yes she was still hitting hard) the crowd screamed for more. And then we were at 90 fights and everything lifted. The tempo of the fights, Naomi’s attacks, the noise level of the crowd.

    She was injured and hurting severely (later it was confirmed she had broken fingers and toes) but she was not going to be denied. And then all of a sudden Shihan Taylor was standing in front of her for the 100 fight. He gave her the rounds of the dojo but she continued to attack and actually hit him with a couple of good shots.

    At 4.10pm it was over and pandemonium broke lose. The noise level was just indescribable. I looked around and here were all the big, tough black belts with tears in their eyes. Naomi was almost unconscious on her feet; she could hardly talk and was severely disoriented. Apart from the broken bones, she was passing blood (however, it was later confirmed that everything was OK).

    Everyone I spoke to that day (after the event) was just so proud to have seen it and been a part of it. July 4, 2004 the day Naomi Ali became immortal (everlasting, not able to fall into oblivion). It is doubtful we will ever see anyone else attempt this in our lifetimes and anyone who does will be following the path that Naomi blazed.

    What a day, what an event and what a fighter. We truly saw the best at her best and we were privileged to be there.

    Artur Hovhannisian (29 March 2009)


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 (Dutch) (English), 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."
Shihan Pedro Beltran, Spain (17th Jun. 2001)
Sensei Robert Lauretti, Australia
Sensei Naomi Ali née Woods, Australia (See also above re the 100 man kumite)

 Some thoughts about the One Hundred Man Kumite

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. I expect however, there would however be reasonably lengthy rest breaks between rounds, with time to tend to injuries, in the case of a tournament.

Consider a boxer going 100 rounds non-stop with no more than 1 minute breaks betweenrounds 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. To be fair, in 2006 an Irish kick-boxer (Robert Devane) apparently foguth 100 fights against other kick boxers.

It seems unlikely that anyone will ever again achieve the same as Mas Oyama did with his 300 rounds!

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