Fumio Demura

Fumio Demura: Karate Master, Kobudo Weapons Expert, Black Belt Hall of Fame Member

Fumio Demura, ninth dan, is one of the most highly respected karateka in the world. Born in Yokohama, Japan, he began training during his grammar-school years, studying kendo as a means of building his strength and improving his health. When his teacher moved from the area, Demura transferred to another dojo that taught karate and kendo. He then studied aikido in high school and, later, judo.

While at Nihon University in Tokyo, from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics, Demura developed a special interest in kobudo, including the use of such weapons as the bo, nunchaku, kama, sai, eku bo and tonfa. He honed his technique under the tutelage of Okinawan karate master Kenshin Taira and weapons expert Ryusho Sakagami.

Ed Parker with Fumio Demura

Fumio Demura’s reputation as a martial arts champion was secured in 1961, when he won the All-Japan Karate Freestyle Tournament, and he was rated as one of Japan’s top eight competitors for the next three years. His many tournament wins include the East Japan Championship, the Shito-Ryu Annual Championship and the Kanto District Championship.

Demura also received the All-Japan Karate Federation President’s Trophy for outstanding tournament play and was awarded certificates of recognition from Japanese Cabinet officials for his contributions to the art of karate.

Fumio Demura’s Karate Weapons of Self-Defense: The Complete Edition, a best-seller at 765 pages! Order it here on Amazon.

In 1965 Demura came to the United States at the invitation of martial arts pioneer Dan Ivan to teach shito-ryu (itosu-kai), one of the world’s four major systems of karate. Within a few years, Demura was educating and entertaining thousands of people at such diverse places as Disneyland, the Las Vegas Hilton and the Playboy Club.

Demura has been a stuntman and an actor, with credits that include The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977), The Karate Kid (1984), Mortal Kombat (1995) and Ninja (2009).

Fumio Demura was captain of the U.S. Japan Goodwill Championships of 1972 and a member of the Amateur Athletic Union national technical committee. He is on the board of directors of the International Martial Arts Federation; chairman and president of the Japan Karate Federation of America; president of the JKF International; and chief instructor and president of Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Genbu-Kai in Santa Ana, California.

The editors of Black Belt spotted the rising star early on, which explains why Demura scored his first magazine cover in December 1967 (right). The black-and-white photo showed him posing with the sai. The cover story spanned 13 pages.

He was on the cover again for the March 1969 issue (below left). The story focused on the nunchaku — as did the article that accompanied his third cover in February 1972 (below right). Three more cover appearances followed. Two of them highlighted another popular kobudo weapon: the tonfa.

Throughout the ’70s, Fumio Demura developed a reputation as an extraordinary teacher of karate and kobudo. Black Belt twice honored him: In 1969 he was named Karate Instructor of the Year, and in 1975 he was Martial Artist of the Year.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Demura wrote a series of kobudo books that were published by Ohara Publications, Black Belt’s sister company. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, he committed his insights to video in a set of VHS tapes produced by Black Belt’s Dan Ivan. Later, those video masters were digitized and distributed in DVD format.

Now that most martial artists have moved beyond the limitations of physical media, Black Belt is releasing them as part of Fumio Demura Karate Weapons: Complete Video Course. A full-motion companion to his most recent book (shown at the top of the page), the course streams those classic Demura kobudo videos — which feature the nunchaku, bo, kama, sai, tonfa and eku bo — to your smartphone, tablet or computer. It also teaches 14 traditional kata designed to polish your skills with those classical weapons.

Bonus! Fumio Demura Karate Weapons: Complete Video Course includes an interview with the master recorded in October 2016 at the Black Belt studio. Among the topics he discusses are how karate has changed over the years, what continues to attract modern martial artists to traditional weapons and how you can improve your skills.

Fumio Demura: Select Career Highlights From the Pages of Black Belt Magazine

January 1967 issue: Bruce Lee plays Kato in The Green Hornet. Joe Lewis is the No. 1 karate fighter in the nation. Fumio Demura introduces America to shito-ryu karate.

October 1967 issue: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Fumio Demura demonstrate at Tak Kubota’s 3rd Annual Invitational Karate Tournament in Hollywood.

December 1967 issue: Fumio Demura gets his first Black Belt cover. He’s shown with a pair of sai.

September 1968 issue: “The power of the fist does not come from …

Shito-Ryu Karate Trailblazer: Fumio Demura

Shito-ryu karate legend Fumio Demura, as photographed for Black Belt magazine.Ask the average karate practitioner to name the main styles of Japan, and chances are he’ll rattle off shotokan, goju-ryu and wado-ryu with no trouble. But unless he’s really up on his art, there’s a good chance that he’ll stumble over the name of the fourth major style, snap his fingers and ask quizzically, “What’s the name of that other one, again?”

That other style is shito-ryu, and any karate student’s puzzlement about it is somewhat understandable.  Shito-ryu is relatively unknown outside Japan, even though it’s perhaps the most interesting of all the Japanese systems. Shito-ryu is really a combination of several styles. For instance, it adopts the quick, strong moves of shotokan and blends them with the slow, heavy breathing aspects of goju-ryu. Another noteworthy feature of shito-ryu is the emphasis that some of its instructors place on making their students proficient in kobudo (traditional weaponry), including the bo, sai, naginata and nunchaku.


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Probably the biggest reason shito-ryu is still relatively unknown is that until quite recently, few attempts were made to export the style. Certainly, its practitioners haven’t been nearly as aggressive in sending sensei to other countries as have the followers of shotokan.

The results of this stay-at-home policy are apparent: Few martial artists know it abroad, and the other Japanese styles dominate the foreign field. In the United States, shotokan is the most widespread. In Europe, wado-ryu is very strong. Meanwhile, goju-ryu is well-known — in good measure because of the worldwide publicity given to two of its most prominent, and flamboyant, practitioners: the longhaired Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi and the barrel-chested Mas Oyama.

In the United States, there’s only one shito-ryu instructor. That’s surprising in view of the fact that America has more karate players by far than any other country outside the Orient, and there’s such a profusion of styles taught here. (Estimates of the number of U.S. karateka run as high as 50,000.)

A few years ago, we were discussing this point in Black Belt’s offices with Fumio Demura, a muscular fifth dan who’s shito-ryu’s sole representative in the United States. Although little-known abroad, he’s one of the more recognized karateka in Japan. He won the All Japan Karate Championship in 1961 and serves as his style’s representative in Tokyo, where he operates five dojo. He’s also much in demand to give demonstrations with the bo, sai and other weapons because of his advanced skill.

“I think the big reason why foreigners know so little about shito is that the style is most prominent in the western area of Japan, a good distance away from Tokyo,” Fumio Demura said. “Foreigners who come to Japan tend to concentrate in Tokyo, where they are not exposed to the style. In Tokyo, it’s the shotokan and goju styles that are strong, and it’s these styles that visitors usually pick up.”

Fumio Demura got to the United States almost by accident. Running true to shito-ryu form, he’d been content to stay in Japan and build up his style in the Tokyo area. But he was temporarily sidetracked by a persuasive American karateka who coaxed the reluctant Fumio Demura to cross the Pacific and introduce shito-ryu in the United States.

The American responsible for Fumio Demura’s odyssey to the New World is Dan Ivan, a jack-of-all-trades of the martial arts who operates several dojo in Southern California. Dan Ivan holds a first-degree black belt in karate, kendo, judo and aikido. He learned the arts in Japan, having spent half a dozen years there. Dan Ivan accompanied Fumio Demura to our offices and explained how he happened to run into the man who’s now head instructor at his schools.

“I had gone to Japan last year to look for another instructor for my dojo,” he said. “My black belt is in shotokan karate, so naturally I was looking for a shotokan man. But everywhere I went, people kept talking about Demura. Finally, when I got to meet him, I was impressed right from the start. I was especially impressed by his fine attitude. I have met some karate men who were excellent technicians but whose attitude left much to be desired.

“But you take Fumio, now, he has a fine outlook. For instance, when a student who’s had some previous karate training comes to the dojo, Demura always asks them what they learned first in karate. Usually, they tell him that they learned stances or exercises or techniques. Then Fumio tells them that the first thing they learn in his dojo is good manners. I consider myself quite fortunate to have gotten Fumio to come to this country to teach in

Fumio Demura Books and DVDs Highlight Karate Weapons Training!

For many years, the karate style known as shito-ryu was relatively unknown outside Japan, even though it’s perhaps the most interesting of all the Japanese systems.

Shito-ryu is really a combination of several styles. For instance, it adopts the quick, strong moves of shotokan and blends them with the slow, heavy breathing aspects of goju-ryu.

Another noteworthy feature of shito-ryu is the emphasis that some of its instructors place on making their students proficient in kobudo (traditional weaponry), including the bo, sai, naginata and nunchaku.

One of shito-ryu’s most famous practitioners and teachers has been the legendary karate weapons master Fumio Demura.

KARATE WEAPONS VIDEO
Fumio Demura Karate Weapons Book and DVD Collection Offers In-Depth Practice of Sai, Bo and Other Karate Weapons


Having studied under Japanese master Ryusho Sakagami and Okinawan master Kenshin Taira, Fumio Demura won the All-Japan Karate Free-Fighting Championships (1961) and was voted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame — not once but twice (1969 Karate Instructor of the Year and 1975 Martial Artist of the Year).


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And for you movie buffs, he was the stunt double for Pat Morita (“Mr. Miyagi”) in The Karate Kid film series in the 1980s.

Fumio Demura’s expertise in empty-hand karate-do as well as karate weapons such as nunchaku, bo, sai and kama make him one of the most well-rounded traditional martial artists in the world. His documentation of lessons for the different facets of his martial arts training are legendary staples in martial arts libraries worldwide.

A wide variety of Fumio Demura’s books and DVDs are available in our online store at blackbeltmag.com/fumio.


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Fumio Demura’s impressive collection of books and DVDs offer a masterful gateway into this karate weapons master’s proven methods for training, instruction and progressive refinement.

What will YOU do with the knowledge and experience that this bona fide master offers?

Karate Weapons Books by Fumio Demura

Karate Weapons DVDs by Fumio Demura