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Sawabe Shigeru Sensei is one of the most senior Shito-Ryu practitioners alive today. Demura Sensei recalls, "When I joined Sakagami Sensei's Dojo as a little boy, Mr. Sawabe was already the senior black belt in the Dojo."  As well as his career as leader of  Japan's largest corporate security company, he has long been a leader in Japanese Karate-Do, and has held several top positions with Karate-Do's governing bodies. He has also authored several highly
regarded texts on Karate-Do and kata. Following the tournament, we had the opportunity to ask Sawabe Sensei
several questions about his history in Karate-Do and his observations regarding the current state of Karate-Do.

Ken-Yu: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Sensei. Many of Demura Sensei's students are fascinated by the fact that you studied Shito-Ryu with both Mabuni Kenwa Sensei and Sakagami Ryushu Sensei. Could you tell us about your history in Karate-Do?

Sawabe Sensei: I first met Sakagami Sensei during wartime, when I was in junior high school. In school, we were required to do either kendo or judo. I chose kendo, and Sakagami Sensei was the kendo teacher. One day, I saw Sakagami Sensei punching a tree for practice, like a makiwara! This was the first time I ever saw karate. I asked him what he was doing and he told me. Not long afterward, I enlisted two of my friends and we asked Sakagami Sensei to teach us karate.  We started traing in karate-do at school. In 1945 the war ended and General MacArthur took charge of Japan. MacArthur banned the practice of martial arts and Sakagami Sensei ended teaching at school. After several months, my friends and I found where Sakagami Sensei lived and went there to ask him to keep teaching us karate.  Sakagami Sensei agreed, and shortly afterwards he took me to Mabuni Sensei's Dojo, where I first met Mabuni Sensei.  I continued studying karate-do with both Sakagami Sensei and Mabuni Sensei. In my first year of high school I formed a karate club. After high school I entered Osaka Kogyo University, where I joined the karate club. Mabuni Sensei was the instructor there. I trained with the university club during the day, then at night I went to Mabuni Sensei's Dojo to train more. During my third year of University, Mabuni Sensei passed away. After that, I continued my training with
Sakagami Sensei at his Dojo. At that time, his Dojo was located at his home.

Ken-Yu: Sensei, you have trained in Karate-Do for nearly sixty years. What are the biggest changes which you have seen?

Sawabe Sensei: Karate-Do is completely different now. During the war, when I began, we had no gi, no Dojo - we just trained outside. We trained barefoot even when it was quite cold and there was snow on the ground! In those days, if you were really lucky you might get a used judo gi. The main thing then was the training - constant practice.   I would train for three hours at the university, then take the train to Mabuni Sensei's Dojo for more training.
The first major karate tournament was held about 1958. Competition in karate, especially in kata, was the
beginning of a huge change, The emphasis became what looks good. Showmanship became a driving force.

(Continued on page 17) Sawabe interview

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