Meet the real Mr Miyagi

Club hosts master who inspired Karate Kid

KERRY GALLAGHER
Last updated 09:38 09/11/2012
Fumio Demura Steven Seagal

STAR QUALITY: Sensei Fumio Demura with student and Hollywood actor Steven Seagal.

Karate Kid
CLASSIC: The character Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid was inspired by Fumio Demura.

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The real "Mr Miyagi" is karate kicking his way to Auckland. 

The karate master who inspired the character for the popular 1980s movie The Karate Kid arrives on November 29 and will be a guest of a karate club that practises his teachings.

Los Angeles based sensei Fumio Demura is the head of Genbu-Kai Karate and will be accompanied by fellow sensei and lifelong friend Shihan Shigeru Sawabe.

They are both grandmasters of karate and two of the last remaining traditional Okinawan Karate exponents.

The Manly Karate dojo is the only club in New Zealand teaching Genbu-Kai - the brand of karate taught by 74-year-old Demura.

Head instructor David Taylor said bringing the pair to Whangaparaoa is "just fantastic".

"He's only coming over because we set up the Genbu-Kai club three and a half years ago and this is an opportunity for him to come and see the club for himself.''

Demura acted as a stunt double for actor Pat Morita in The Karate Kid movies, and his film credits include Rising Sun, Mortal Kombat and Walker Texas Ranger. 

He also became a trainer to the stars, having worked with the likes of Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Steven Seagal and Tom Cruise. 

Demura, originally from Okinawa, was world karate champion at 18 and founded the Japan Karate Federation.

In 2006 he was inducted into the World Martial Arts Masters Association Hall of Fame.

Demura is still director and chief instructor for the Shito-Ryu Genbu-Kai International.

Sawabe, 76, is a former president of the Japan Karate Association and is one of the most senior Shito-Ryu masters.

He is head of Japan Karate-Do Shubu-Kai and has been heavily involved with Karate New Zealand.

Taylor said the club will pay for airfares but both men give their time for free.

There will be three seminars during the day for different age groups.

One is in Auckland for Karate New Zealand. Another will be an open seminar on the North Shore, and a final one will be for Gendu-Kai club members at Whangaparaoa Primary School.

Taylor said Demura endorsed the Manly Genbu-Kai club.

''When I left the UK to set up here, there was nobody here. So I set it up myself and basically we started with me and my daughter training in our garage and we have 80 or 85 students now."

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