SHIN KOYAMADA: His Worldwide Fight Against Gender-Based Violence


The World Karate Federation and Koyamada International Foundation sign a memorandum of understanding to fight gender-based violence

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, a day of honor, dignity and righteousness that can touch the souls of the martial arts world. Two major events occurred on this day that might start off a virtuous powerful martial arts moment and message in history, which globally might help save millions of lives and improve our teens and childrens’ mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. And there’s no time better than now to relay it.

It began with the Spain-based World Karate Federation (WKF) and Koyamada International Foundation (KIF) announcing a partnership agreement to foster cooperation to promote social cohesion and gender equality and to fight gender-based violence through the practice of Karate.

When I first interviewed Shin Koyamada in 2003, I finger dial phoned him during his break on The Last Samurai (2004) set in New Plymouth, an area in the Taranaki region on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, where Mt. Taranaki was standing in for the famed Mt. Fujiama.

Though a young lad, we spoke a great deal about martial arts as he eloquently elaborated, “It doesn't matter how old you are, you can focus on yourself. I practice martial arts to expand myself so I can expand myself to others. Without knowing yourself, you can't know others around you. Through martial arts you train your life and how you see people, nature, animals, and the food you eat. You learn to chase your dream and connect within yourself and calm down in your life. By expanding yourself to others, you can know something before it happens thereby start to control your dreams and what you do in them, which leads to controlling yourself."

As it were, Last Samurai is back on Netflix and the popular Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006) is now on Disney+ with over 100 million subscribers, thus globally reaching fresh fans. It’s a good time to share with these fledgling fans Koyamada’s new prophetic journey.

In 2006, through philanthropic work with the youth empowerment Kickstart program he was rubbing elbows with former President George H.W. Bush and Chuck Norris. They inspired Koyamada and so by 2008 he and his now wife Nia Lyte (TED Talk Speaker, who has also addressed the U.N.) co-founded what is known as KIF.

The press release of the Memorandum of Understanding Between WKF and KIF formalizes the collaboration of the two entities to implement far-reaching initiatives to use Karate to empower vulnerable sectors of the population, especially girls and young women who have suffered any form of abuse. They also agreed to implement joint development programs in localized territories and to strengthen initiatives aimed at integrating the practice of Karate in activities to ultimately improve the living conditions of disadvantaged populations.

The emanant WKF President Antonio Espinós said, “WKF is committed to doing its utmost to use Karate’s core principles to fight discrimination of any kind. In particular, the idiosyncrasy of Karate makes our sport the right tool to help girls and women who have suffered from gender-based violence. As the defense of people in need is one of the main elements of our strategic plan, this agreement with KIF puts us on the right path to contribute to a better world and to further demonstrate the many values and the greatness of Karate.”

KIF Chairman Koyomada, who’s also a six-time national martial arts champion, January 2004’s Black Belt Magazine cover story and expert in judo, kendo, kei shin kai karate and Northern Shaolin, shared, “In our global effort of achieving the Gender Equality of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, KIF is committed to empowering girls and women to protect themselves from all forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

“Martial arts like Karate could provide those vulnerable girls and young women excellent mental and physical health benefits, which could help end GBV. To achieve that, I am honored and humbled to partner with the outstanding international sports organization WKF. In addition, I am very grateful for WKF taking action toward achieving gender equality using Karate with us.”

To cap off the second half of the prodigious accord, we learn many hours later in Los Angeles, that another Hollywood celebrity and his wife and a steadfast global MA organization made a similar commitment on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

Martial arts action film director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and wife Kelly McCormick’s (producer) of 87North Productions entered a partnership with Mike Dillard’s Century Martial Arts under a similar umbrella, the belief and importance that martial arts can empower the disenfranchised and to also inspire the next generation of young martial artists.

How could this be a major international martial arts moment in martial arts history?

To paraphrase John Lennon, “Imagine if these four could work as one.” Most know that martial arts saved my life, so yes, you may think that I’m a dreamer, yet I bet, I’m not the only one.

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