Known for his quiet demeanour, Tomio Imamura has been described as a “brilliant technician“, known for his exceptional kumite. A two-time world champion, he is one of the best fighters of his generation.
Tomio Imamura was born on 7 October 1958, in Kagoshima, Japan.
Imamura attended Takushoku University in the 1970s. He joined the university’s famed Karate club in his first year, training under Masatoshi Nakayama of the JKA (Japan Karate Association).
On graduating from the University, he was invited to enrol on the JKA’s Instructors Course.
In 1983 Imamura graduated from the Instructors Course. That year He also finished in second place in the Men’s Individual Kumite at the 26th JKA All Japan Karate Championships. He lost to Hideo Yamamoto in the final.
Imamura again finished in second place at the 29th JKA All Japan Karate Championships in 1986. In the Men’s Individual Kumite he lost to Yasunori Ogura in the final. Fujikiyo Omura and Yuji Hashiguchi finished in joint third.
For the next few years, Imamura continued to build his reputation as a top competitor.
In 1987, at the 30th JKA All Japan Karate Championships he finished in third place alongside Minoru Kawawada, and behind Masaaki Yokomichi and Katsutoshi Shiina. He improved his position at the 2nd Shoto World Cup Karate Championships held in Brisbane, Australia. He defeated Frank Brennan in the final of the Men’s Individual Kumite. George Best and Marco Barone finished in joint third.
Between 1988 to 1990 at the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd JKA All Japan Karate Championships, Imamura finished in first, second, and first place in the Men’s Individual Kumite.
In March 1990 the 3rd Shoto World Cup Karate Championships were held in Sunderland, England. Imamura was selected as part of a very strong Japanese kumite team that included Masao Kagawa and Tomoyuki Aihara. The team was coached by Masahiko Tanaka.
The Japanese team made it to the final of the Team Kumite where they face a Great Britain team coached by Andy Sherry. The British team consisted of Elwyn Hall, Frank Brennan, Dean Hodgkin, Ronnie Canning, and Gary Harford. In a memorable final, Great Britain, defeated Japan to become World Champions.
Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA, died on 15 April 1987. Three years later, internal divisions in the JKA led to 2 opposing factions being formed.
The Matsuno faction was led by Tetsuhiko Asai and included Keigo Abe, Akihito Isaka, Mikio Yahara, and Masao Kagawa.
The opposing Nakahara faction included Motokuni Sugiura, Masaaki Ueki, Masahiko Tanaka, Yoshihara, Osaka, Minoru Kawawda, Tatsuya Naka, and it was this faction that Imamura joined.
In a repeat of the 2nd Shoto World Cup final, Imamura faced Frank Brennan in the Men’s Individual Kumite final at the 4th Shoto World Cup Karate Championships in 1992. The event was held in Tokyo, Japan. Kunio Kobayashi and Tatsuya Naka finished in joint third.
In 1993 Imamura found himself in another JKA All Japan final. However, he lost to Katsutoshi Shiina in the 36th JKA All Japan Championships.
Inamura was an instructor at the JKA Hombu. His classes were tough. His classes focused on developing strong basic techniques.
In August 2003 a memorial course was held in honour of JKA legend Keinosuke Enoeda, who had died earlier that year on 1 June. The course was held in England and was led by Yoshinobu Ohta. The guest instructors on the course were Masaaki Ueki, Imamura, Hideo Tomita, and Keisuke Nemoto
Imamura was invited alongside Masaaki Ueki to be a guest instructor on JKA England’s first international course in August 2004.
As one of the JKA’s top instructors, Imamura was frequently invited to be a guest instructor on many courses and seminars.
Between 16 to 18 July 2021 Imamura was a guest instructor alongside Mai Shiina at the Virtual Summer Seminar 2021 for the Master Masataka Mori Memorial Camp. During the three-day seminar, he taught the advanced Shotokan kata Gojushiho Sho, Kanku Sho, Chinte, Nujishiho, Sochin, and Meikyo.
Tomio Imamura is currently ranked as an 8th Dan by the JKA. He mainly teaches at the JKA Hombu and is a Vice-Chief Instructor alongside Yasunori Ogura. He’s also a member of the JKA’s Shihankai Committee.