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Karate Masters: Masataka Mori, 1932 - 2018

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Master Mori Masataka was born in 1932, in Kyushu, the Land Of Fire - Fukuoka Prefecture located in southwest Japan. 

In 1950, after enrolled at Takushoku University in Tokyo, he joining the university karate club afterward and eventually becoming team captain.

Graduating in 1955, Masataka Mori then joined the JKA, beginning his career as a karate instructor.

In 1963, he was invited to Hawaii, becoming Chief Instructor of the Karate Association of Hawaii (KAH), where he built a local team that defeated visiting Japanese college champions.

In 1968, Sensei Mori moved to New York to teach on a two-year contract, but he ended up staying and becoming the North Atlantic regional chief instructor of the JKA and later founded JKA Shotokan Karate-Do International, which organizes our tournaments, camps, and Dan exams.

In 1977, during a heated meeting in Los Angeles, CA which resulted in the split of the AAKF, the American organization recognized by the JKA, Masataka Mori was the only Japanese instructor at the meeting who stayed with Hidetaka Nishiyama, who retained control of the AAKF.

Ranked as 9th Dan, an incredibly high rank possessed by very few, Mori Sensei was a very modest man embodying the true spirit of humility as taught by Gichin Funakoshi.

He was well known for having "a good eye" for catching mistakes of more advanced black belts who fail to maintain his strict standards. Many black belts felt the sting of a shinai, that was way Mori Sensei used to reinforce corrections.

Mori Sensei was a leading karateka from the early years of JKA, teaching everywhere, from the Military Academy of Japan to Latin America and London, not to mention 50 years in New York. He also played important roles for JKA headquarters as a Shihankai Technical Advisor and member of the International Board of Directors (Instructors Committee).

Mori Sensei often emphasized friendship and taught his students how to be better human beings. He is known for saying "learn through your sweat," meaning that you will improve your character by working hard and endeavoring, and "never swagger," meaning you should never be cocky or show off. He wanted us to focus on our posture and stance; he stressed the basics over flashy techniques.

Masataka Mori Sensei passed away yesterday, September 8th, and will always be remembered as one of the most revered karate instructors in the world.

Watch this video below to learn more about his journey:

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