Spotlights and Profiles of 2019 – Part 1

In 2019 we featured biographies on some talented and inspirational martial artists. Below are some of these biographies.


Osamu Ozawa is one of the most respected Japanese masters to have taught in the west. Until his death, he was the highest-ranked Shotokan master in the western hemisphere. His life had many highs as well as lows. Through everything he endured, his Karate always remained central to his life.

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A master of Shito-Ryu Karate and Okinawan Kobudo, Fumio Demura is a true legend and pioneer of American Karate. He has appeared on the front cover of over 30 martial arts magazines. An author of several books, he has also built a successful film career in Hollywood.

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Considered the “Father of Brazilian Karate” Mitsusuke Harada has proved to be an innovative instructor. He received one of the last 5th Dan grades awarded by Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi before his death.

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Tetsuhiko Asai was one of the most unique masters to come out of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Nicknamed “Kaminari-arashi” meaning “Thunderous Storm”, he was a Shotokan Karate practitioner that infused other martial arts such as White Crane Kung Fu  into his personal style. He was described by Kenneth Funakoshi, a former student, as an “Instructors Instructor”. He also held 2nd Dans in Judo, Jukendo and Kendo. He also held a 3rd Dan in Jodo.

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Tetsuji Murakami was a Karate missionary, teaching Karate across Europe and North Africa during the infancy of the art outside of Japan. He was one of the first Japanese instructors to settle in Europe. He was a fearsome instructor that scared and inspired his students in equal measure. He would eventually come under the influence of Shigeru Egami who would change his outlook on training.

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Minoru Mochizuki is, without doubt, one of the most respected and influential masters of his generation. He founded the influential Yoseikan school of Budo, which contains elements of Aikido, Kenjutsu, Karate, Judo, and Jujitsu. He trained with two of the greats of Japanese Budo, Jigaro Kano, and Morihei Ueshiba. His son Hiroo would go on to become one of the foremost Karate Masters in the world.

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It is fair to say that Hidetaka Nishiyama can be considered one of the most influential Shotokan masters of his era. Alongside Masatoshi Nakayama he was responsible for the growth of Shotokan Karate around the world. His book, “Karate: The Art of Empty-Hand Fighting” has been responsible for introducing many people to the art of Karate. For a long time, he was a beacon for the practice of “Traditional Karate”.

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Masafumi Shiomitsu is an internationally recognized Wado-ryu master. A powerfully built man, he is known for his no-nonsense approach to Karate. He lives by the principles of Budo, which include working hard and not wasting one’s time.

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Instantly recognizable by his bald head and long white beard, Hideo Ochi looks like a genial grandfather. However, he is one of the best fighters to have come out of the JKA. He is a three-time JKA All Japan Grand Champion and a charismatic instructor, respected all over the world.

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A legend of Karate, much has been written about Hirokazu Kanazawa. For many years he has been one of the most recognisable faces of Karate. Considered by many to be the greatest of the Shotokan Masters, he is arguably one of the best technicians to come out of the JKA.

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The “Tiger of Shotokan Karate“, Keinosuke Enoeda, was one of the most respected Karate practitioners to come out of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Described as A physical manifestation of determination and willpower he was nicknamed “Tora” meaning “Tiger” by his fellow JKA karateka for his ferociousness when fighting. Considered one of the best Japanese

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When we talk of the JKA masters’ influence on European Karate, the first names that come to mind are Kase, Kanazawa, Enoeda and Ochi. Because he rarely gives interviews in English, the name Hiroshi Shirai is sometimes overlooked in the conversation. A former JKA Grand Champion, he was one of the first generation of JKA instructors to teach outside of Japan. He has had a massive influence on the development of Karate in Italy.

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Shigeru Takashina was a true stalwart of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). A graduate of the famed JKA Instructors Course, he was one of the first crop of instructors to teach Shotokan Karate outside of Japan for the JKA. He helped established Shotokan Karate on the East Coast of the United States, particularly in the South Florida area.

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Although Isao Obata dedicated his life to the pursuit of Karate excellence, he never considered himself a master. He was one of Gichin Funakoshi’s first Japanese students.

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Moving like a leopard, Mikio Yahara is one of the most dynamic practitioners of Shotokan Karate to have come out of the JKA. Masatoshi Nakayama described him as the best fighter of his generation. A former JKA Grand Champion, he is first and foremost a martial artist. A proponent of returning Karate back to its Budo roots, he has a no-nonsense approach to his Karate. This has even helped him in his encounters with the Yakuza.

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Masao Kagawa is one of the best technicians and competitors to come out of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). A winner of numerous titles, he has developed into one of the best instructors in the world.

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Author: Patrick Donkor

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