Unfortunately, in martial arts there are no shortcuts, everything is a matter of time, training, perseverance, and sacrifice, however, how many young people are ready to have that commitment? How many are ready to make it a way of life?José Manuel Egea
For those of a certain age, the name José Manuel Egea is synonymous with kumite success. He is one of the greatest European competitors, being an 8-time World Champion (junior and senior), a 13-time European Champion, a 14-time Spanish Champion, and the winner of numerous open tournaments.
José Manuel Egea Caceres, the oldest of three boys, was born in the Pan Bendito neighbourhood of Madrid, Spain on 20 February 1964. His father was a bricklayer.
Around the age of 9/10 Egea’s parents signed him up for Karate classes as a Christmas present. He began learning Shito-Ryu Karate at the Bushido Dojo located in the Carabanchel neighbourhood of Madrid. His brother Francisco (Paco), who was two years younger, also started training.
Egea and his brother trained under José Manuel Alcaide. They credit him with being one of the most influential instructors. Alcaide, who taught Shito-Ryu Karate, would go on to become a national coach for the Spanish team in 1988 and 1992.
Egea also had the opportunity to train with Yasunari Ishimi. Ishimi arrived in Spain in 1969 and was the first Shito-Ryu instructor in the country.
In 1980, Egea, aged 16, began competing at a national level. Two years later he was selected alongside his brother Francisco to represent the National Spanish team.
Egea won the first of his 13 European Championship titles in 1983. He defeated Geoff Thompson of England in the final of the Kumite Open events at the Championships held in Madrid. Later that year, at the Junior World Championships held in Belgium, he helped Spain win the Team Kumite title. He also won the Individual Kata title.
Between 1984 to 1992 Egea cemented his position in the Spanish National Team. He competed mainly in the -80 kg, Open Ipppon, and Team Kumite events. During this period he won almost every title available to him. He competed and defeated many of the top competitors of the time, including the likes of Christophe Pinna, Dudley Josepa, Vic Charles, Pat McKay, Geoff Thompson, and Mervyn Etienne.
Egea’s major competition successes include:
- World Karate Championship – Individual Open Ippon Kumite – 1st place (1988)
- World Karate Championship – Individual Open Ippon Kumite – 3rd place (1986)
- World Karate Championship – Individual -80 kg Kumite – 1st place (1990, 1992)
- World Karate Championship – Individual -80 kg Kumite – 3rd place (1986, 1988)
- World Karate Championship – Team Kumite – 1st place (1992)
- World Karate Championship – Team Kumite – 3rd place (1988, 1990)
- European Karate Championship – Individual Open Kumite- 1st place (1983)
- European Karate Championship – Individual Sanbon Kumite- 2nd place (1988)
- European Karate Championship – Individual -80 kg Kumite – 1st place (1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990)
- European Karate Championship – Individual -80 kg Kumite – 2nd place (1987)
- European Karate Championship – Individual -80 kg Kumite – 3rd place (1984)
In 1987 Egea made his acting debut in the Spanish movie, Veredicto Implacablel (Relentless Verdict). The film is considered one of the forerunners of Spanish martial arts cinema. Egea appeared in the film alongside his brother, Francisco, José Manuel Galan, and Tino Martin.
Francisco Egea open a dojo in Leganes in 1988. Apart from teaching students, the dojo provided a place for the Egea brothers to train and prepare for competition. In 1998 the brothers opened a second dojo.
In 1992, while still at the top of his game, José Manuel Egea retired from competitive Karate. His retirement was partly due to the lack of funding received by karateka when competing for the national team. They had to fund their own training and often had to pay for their transportation to the tournaments.
In recognition of his sporting achievements, Egea was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit in 1994. He was the only karateka that year, among many Spanish stars from various sports.
On 31 January 2002 Francisco Egea was involved in a life-threatening traffic accident. His car crashed and rolled over several times. He was taken to the Getafe Hospital where he was found to have suffered severe head, eye, and chest trauma. He eventually recovered after six years of physical therapy. However, he was partially deaf in his right ear.
After retiring from competitive Karate, José Manuel Egea focused on running his dojo. He also became a successful businessman, working as a property developer.
In 2015 Egea entered the world of politics. He ran in the municipal elections for the Leganes City Council. He finished in second place and won in the Madrid Assembly. He also ran for mayor in 2019.
Even though he was now involved in politics, the Egea continued teaching classes at his dojo.
Francisco Egea, a multiple champion like his brother, became a Shito-Ryu Individual World Champion in 2016, at the age of 50. Several years after his car accident he won the title at the World Championships held in Mexico.
Currently ranked as a 6th Dan in Shito-Ryu Karate, José Manuel Egea is considered one of the best Karate competitors. He helped put Spanish Karate on the world map, alongside his brother Francisco, Luis-Maria Sanz, and David Luque. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded him the prize for being the best elite martial arts athlete of the 20th century.
Although known as a kumite competitor, Egea is a firm believer in the importance of kata. He believes that the practice of kata leads to the development of strong kumite.
Egea has some very strong opinions on the lack of the promotion of Karate and the failure to use the expertise of former champions. He feels that this expertise could benefit the new generation of karateka. He does his best to pass on his knowledge by conducting seminars around the world.