Sonny Chiba
Japanese martial arts film star Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba passed away Thursday from COVID-19 complications at the age of 82. Born Sadaho Maeda, Chiba was a gymnastics champion who began studying karate while a university student. A pupil of the late kyokushin founder, Mas Oyama, Chiba achieved a black belt under Oyama and went on to study several other martial arts. He began acting in the 1960s eventually starring in more than 100 films as he carved out a niche for himself with his own rough-hewn brand of action.

Following in the wake of Bruce Lee, Chiba became one of the first Asian cinematic martial arts stars to achieve international success when his 1974 movie "Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken" was released overseas under the title "The Street Fighter." The success of the film lead to two sequels and made Chiba a cult favorite. Among his admirers was Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino who cast Chiba in "Kill Bill: Volume 1." Chiba would also influence the action movie genre throughout Japan with his formation of a popular school for martial arts stuntmen, the Japan Action Club (later called Japan Action Enterprise).

I recall Floyd Burk who is also a regular writer and contributor to Black Belt Magazine once asked for my input on article he had in the works entitled 'The Aging Martial Artist'.

Specifically he wanted to know the biggest change in your martial arts ability that you've noticed over the years? (Answer could be physical, philosophical, strategic, etc..)

Because judo is so physical, many of the moves I can no longer do because of prior injuries and trying to avoid future ones, (after 60 it takes much longer to recover). So my role have gravitated towards being involved in running the judo organizations, promoting large events, refereeing, developing future leaders, as well as providing wisdom that comes with age and experience.

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Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida will make his long-awaited mixed martial arts debut on the stacked ONE Championshipevent, ONE: Revolution, on Friday, September 24.
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Photos Courtesy of ONE Championship

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This story begins with a scenario you've seen in a classic movie franchise and in the hit Netflix series it spawned: A mild-mannered youth gets bullied at school day after day. The kid comes under the guidance of a wise martial arts teacher, who imparts the ways of combat. When the kid decides that enough is enough on the schoolyard, you know the end is near. Using skills learned from the sensei, the kid vanquishes the bullies — and even wins a local tournament.

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