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.
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 the fist,” Fumio Demura says. “It comes from the wrist. I work with the makiwara no more than 30 times a day to strengthen the wrist, but there is still no better way to strengthen the wrist so that the wrist will not give, except through the use of the sai, the short sword and, for those who do not have a sai, push-ups on the fingers. When the fist is strong, it is because the wrist is strong and won’t give in an attack.”
March 1969 issue: Fumio Demura appears on the cover again to teach the nunchaku, an Okinawan weapon that’s mesmerized America.
January 1970 issue: The Black Belt Hall of Fame inductees for 1969 include Fumio Demura, Wally Jay and Thomas LaPuppet.
February 1972 issue: Once again, the front cover features Fumio Demura wielding the nunchaku.
October 1975 issue: Fumio Demura, Chuck Norris, Willie Cahill, Joe Lewis and Tommy Martin enter the Black Belt Hall of Fame.
August 1978 issue: Fumio Demura appears on his fourth cover, this time with the tonfa.
October 1980 issue: Fumio Demura gets his fifth Black Belt cover — without a kobudo weapon, for once.
February 1982 issue: With tonfa in hand, Fumio Demura returns to the cover for the sixth time.
July 1990 issue: Celebrating his 25th year in the United States, Fumio Demura has a celebratory meal with Chuck Norris and Karate Kid star Pat Morita.
April 2000 issue: Fumio Demura is asked about the new trend of wearing shoes in the dojo. “I would never wear shoes,” he says. “Nobody I fight wears shoes. That is the way we grew up. I have been practicing for over 50 years, and it is difficult for me to get used to wearing [sparring] gloves; the shoe issue is no different.”
May 2001 issue: It’s revealed that Chuck Norris modified the tang soo do he learned in South Korea to include hand techniques he was taught by Tak Kubota and Fumio Demura.
June 2006 issue: Joe Lewis is asked which martial artists give the best seminars. His reply: Jeff Smith, Bill Wallace, Renzo Gracie and Fumio Demura.
July 2010 issue: Chuck Norris originally suggested Fumio Demura for the role of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, but Demura declined.