Movie master visits dojo

KERRY GALLAGHER
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012
Steven Seagal

STAR SENSEI: Sensei Fumio Demura with one of his students, Hollywood actor Steven Seagal. Sensei Demura is coming to Whangaparaoa later this month.

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The real "Mr Miyagi" is coming.

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 Manly 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-Do is the only club in New Zealand teaching Genbu-Kai - the brand of karate taught by sensei Demura.

Head instructor sensei David Taylor says bringing the pair to Whangaparaoa is a coup.

"Having them come over is just fantastic. And 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."

Master Fumio Demura also acted as a stunt double for actor Pat Morita in The Karate Kid movies. And his Hollywood connection goes beyond that.

His movie credits include Rising Sun, Mortal Kombat, Walker Texas Ranger and others. But his true legend is in karate itself.

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

Master Demura is originally from Okinawa. He was world karate champion at age 18 and founded the Japan Karate Federation.

He was promoted to 9th Dan (black belt) in Shito-Ryu Karate in 2005. The following year he was inducted into the World Martial Arts Masters Association Hall of Fame.

Master Demura is still director and chief instructor for the Shito-Ryu Genbu-Kai International at 74.

Sawara, 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.

Mr Taylor says 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.

Mr Taylor says Master Demura endorsed the Manly Genbu-Kai club, which has been running in Manly for about 3 years.

"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."

The club trains on Tuesdays at the Whangaparaoa Primary School hall and on Mondays and Thursdays at the Whangaparaoa Community Trust Hall.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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