Kumite Classics: Masao Kagawa vs. Georg Best
Usually, Masao Kagawa´s style is nothing but splendid. But the following match was not the most beautiful fight. On the other hand, it still belongs to the most exciting matches in the history of Shotokan. In 1988, Masao Kagawa meet Georg Best at the JKA World Shotokan Cup in Brisbane, Australia. The incredible bout took therefore place between two most unequal fighters one could imagine.
A Bout Between Unequal Fighters
Masao Kagawa was already 33 years old and an accomplished fighter back then. Georg Best, on the other hand, had the role of the contender. However, he arrived in Brisbane with a tremendous winning streak. He who won the European Championships in the individual kumite category in 1986 and 1987. Georg Best had therefore no reason to worry. His self-esteem and his fighting spirit must have been on a high during this years.
Besides this fact, Georg best had another advantage: his size. As you can see in the video, he towered above Masao Kawaga. Georg Best was at least one head taller than his Japanese incumbent.
Masao Kagawa: No Means Against the Reach of Georg Best
The contenders had to meet in the individual and team kumite competition of the event. Both times, Georg Best could win the bouts. But Masao Kagawa showed an incredible amount of fighting spirit against the much taller British fighter. In the end, he did not find a means to deal with the difference in size. Georg Best utilized his advantage in a perfect way and kept Masao Kagawa on distance. Even with his splendid kicking techniques he did not manage to reach his opponent or to put him in real trouble. Georg Best understood in an smart way to dominate the fight through his reach.
For smaller karateka this fight teaches an excellent lesson to learn how to fight against taller opponents. Standard shobu ippon strategies might not work under such circumstances.
However, this duel is without a doubt a classic.