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Black Belt Hall of Famer Fumio Demura Reported Dead at 84

Fumio Demura

It's being reported on social media that Fumio Demura, one of the towering figures in American karate history, has passed away at the age of 84. In February, Demura had celebrated his 75th anniversary involved in martial arts.

Best known for his work on the "Karate Kid" films, Demura was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1938. As a child, he began training in kendo and karate eventually coming to practice the shito-ryu style under Ryusho Sakagami. He also began training in kobudo, traditional Okinawan weaponry, under Taira Shinken.

Through a relationship with American martial arts pioneer Dan Ivan, Demura first came to the United States to teach karate in 1965. Demura settled in the Southern California region at the same time that Black Belt Magazine was establishing itself in the same area. As one of the most accomplished karate experts in the country during this period, Demura became a favorite of the magazine being named to the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Karate Instructor of the Year in 1969 and, again, as Martial Artist of the Year in 1975. He would write a number of books on karate and kobudo for Ohara Publications, Black Belt's publishing arm at the time.

In 2001, Demura was expelled from the Shito-ryu Itosu-kai organization in Japan for what they said was a failure to communicate with them for more than 20 years and issuing black belt certificates in his own name. Demura had already established his own Genbu-kai International organization in 1999 and concentrated on running it for the rest of his career.

Perhaps Demura's most lasting contribution to karate came through performing several of the martial arts scenes for Pat Morita's "Mr. Miyagi" character in "The Karate Kid" movies. He is sometimes cited as an inspirational source for the legendary film sensei.

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