Fumio Demura Shihan, 9th Dan
Interview of a Martial Arts Legend
Shihan Fumio Demura , a Martial Arts legend and action movie star, is a person who is a boon to the society and world at large. He creates better human beings through the path of budo and makes us achieve our goals in life. A Master par-excellence and a perfectionist in all he does, Shihan has a monument of achievements which inspires and dazzles us and urges us to try our level best in all we do – martial arts training thus transcends beyond the dojo and embraces life in the hands of Shihan Demura.
Profile of Demura Shihan
Shihan Fumio Demura, 9th Dan, introduced Shito-Ryu Karate to the USA in 1965. He also introduced Okinawa Kobudo: Sai, Nunchuku, Bo, Tonfa and Kama.
He started teaching in California and was introduced to the public by Black Belt magazine making him well known in the martial arts arena. He started Karate demonstrations at the Japanese Village and Deer Park in Buena Park, California in 1968. The show was such a success it became one of the top attractions in the park, making it the first professional Karate demonstration in the world. After seven years of demonstrations the show moved to the Las Vegas Hilton. There he presented a daily show for two consecutive years.
In 1974 he entered into the Hong Kong film industry and in 1975 he entered into the Hollywood film industry. In 1977 he appeared in his first movie, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Many films followed such as Karate Kid I, II, III, IV where he was the stunt double for Pat Morita's character 'Miyagi'. He continued to be the stunt double for Pat Morita in the television series O'Hara and others for approximately 14 years. His movie credits also include Rising Sun, Mortal Kombat, Walker Texas Ranger and many others. In addition to his acting career he travels throughout the world to present martial arts seminars, conduct demonstrations and give radio interviews.Rather than emphasizing competition. Sensei Demura emphasizes personal growth and mental discipline in his training to help people become better human beings. Through his open mindedness he has been an example to others including: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, Sho Kosugi, Mike Stone, Richard Norton....and many other top world martial artists today.
Today Shihan Demura serves as director and Chief Instructor for the Shito-Ryu Genbu-Kai International. An organization encompassing nearly twenty nations and thousands of members. He still teaches at his Santa Ana, California Dojo and most weekends are spent giving seminars or assisting at tournaments literally throughout the world. Each February, he hosts his annual Goodwill Championships in Costa Mesa, considered by many to be the foremost traditional tournament in southern California.
Shihan Demura is an authentic Karate Sensei. Combining the traditions of the past with modern approaches to training, he is regarded by his students with love, trust and admiration. In his personal life as well as within the walls of the Dojo, Shihan is a living model of what all true martial artists strive to be!
(AC) Oss Shihan! Welcome to India. Please tell us something about yourself – training, teaching and your federation. What is your personal training schedule?
(FD) Oss! My respects to WMA India and your readers, See …Genbu-kai is made up of the Shito-Ryu teachings of Sensei Mabuni as well as the kobudo teachings of Master Shinken Taira. "Gen" means original, professional, or beginning and "Bu" means martial arts. "Kai" means group. Genbu-kai refers to a group of professionals who are dedicated to achieving the original goals of the traditional Budo. This is a modern interpretation of traditional Japanese "Shu, Ha, Ri" (protect, breakthrough, departure). Genbu-Kai training begins with kihon (basics) techniques. The training must adhere to learning correct kihon techniques, which is the foundation of Genbu-Kai Karate-Do training ("Shu").
The next step is to practice combinations of the kihon techniques through kata (form). Students then learn how to apply the kihon techniques through different levels of kumite (sparring) training. The sparring training system includes "ippon kumite" (predetermined one technique sparing), "sanbon kumite" (predetermined three techniques sparring) ("Ha"), "jiyu ippon kumite" (free style one step sparring) through to "jiyu kumite" (free sparring) ("Ri"). Through this learning system, Genbu-Kai students can achieve mastery of Shito-Ryu Karate-Do. I want to reiterate that Genbu-Kai's goal is the vision of Master Kenwa Mabuni's "Kunnshi-no-Ken," which is dedication to teaching students personal growth to achieve harmony in their lives.
I practise karate-do and kobudo with same seriousness. I also do very little (smiles) aikido and ju-jutsu. But I do daily … little training, but regular, that’s important for me.
(AC) Shihan , please share your thoughts on traditional Karate-do training and its comparison with tournament / sports karate. What is your opinion on the change in scenario of martial arts in the last 30 years?
(FD) Change is natural… but we try not to compromise on fundamental techniques, serious training and devotion. Karate-do and Kobu-do are difficult, if you do not practice seriously with a traditional approach, you may miss the important points! Tournament karate is healthy, good for youngsters to compare and see where you stand, to accept defeat and wins with equal smiling face… but as you grow older, training becomes more personal, internal and traditional, so in youth, it’s good to be participating in tournaments, later, train deeply and try to be a winner in life. That is the objective of martial arts, to win over all obstacles in life and achieve your vision. So I emphasize the teaching of the dojo kun. This shapes your karate spirit, making one a better person. I say ‘seven times fall, eight times get up...’ be stronger in your mind and spirit. All five rules of the dojo kun emphasize the essential belief that true karate-do not only trains the body, but also the spirit.
(AC) Shihan, please tell us about your activities as an action movie star and any special experiences.
(FD) Well, I acted in quite many movies and one particularly I remember was when I did the role of Mr Miyagi … people began to call me Miyagi and not Demura! I became very popular with youngsters… so much that when Mr Miyagi actually passed away, people looked at me and said – No, he is very much alive! They did not believe that Mr Miyagi had passed away… I was moved at his death but also amused by the reaction of people!
(AC) Shihan, what is your opinion on karate-do levels and activities in India, specially Genbu-kai India. Please give suggestions.
(FD) I can comment on Genbukai India, and I feel they are doing great job! My thanks to Sensei Biswas, he is working very hard and Indian Genbukai students are at par with international level. They are technically strong and spiritually sound. This much I say with confidence! But I request you come over to Honbu and have more exposure… that’s important, you see.
(AC) Shihan, how did you find time to do so many things - training, teaching, writing books, acting, producing videos etc etc.. Please tell us the secret.
(FD) (Laughing)…no no, there is no secret! Actually I work 7 days a week and train 7 days a week. I believe with good time management and personal discipline, anyone can achieve a lot. I get up early, train, teach a small class, complete my morning work and rush for studio or camp or movie shooting… run run run !! Weekends, sometimes, I go fishing!
(AC) Shihan, what are your suggestions, messages and advice to martial artists and readers?
(FD) First, be serious in your training. Secondly, be respectful of your sensei; thirdly, try to improve yourself not only technically but as a better human being. Finally, work hard to be leaders in your profession. Show the way, create new paths where there are none, work for world peace, and develop friendship and respect for each other! That’s the way of Genbu-kai .
(AC) Shihan, thank you very much for your time and advice. We will follow the way as shown by you. You are always our inspiration. I offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to you on behalf of WMA and all Indian martial artists. Oss!
(FD) Oss! Thanks Arijit, and small gift for you! (Shihan presents the interviewer an autographed copy of Genbu-kai International 40 yrs Anniversary Souvenir). I will come again and I am confident that Sensei Biswas will continue the great work and produce stronger martial artists and better human beings. Thanks and best wishes to WMA.
(The interview was conducted by Arijit Chakraborty, National Special Correspondent – Originally used in WMA WORLD OF MARTIAL ARTS)