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Hirokazu Kanazawa has passed away – An Overview

Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa passed away on December 8, 2019. And the karate world mourns.

For everybody, who wants to express their sympathies, we have set up a condolence board.

The facebook page of the SKIF-GB facebook page reported first about Soke Kanazawa´s passing. However, rumors spread that the announcement could have been a hoax very fast. While the post disappeared a few hours later, we received information from a high ranking source within the inner circle of the SKIF. The source confirmed that the information about the passing of Soke Kanazawa is true.

Official Confirmation of the Passing of Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa

Around 1 pm central European time, the board of the SKIF published an official statement about the passing of Soke Kanazawa. The document states that he passed away peacefully.

It also states that he passed away at the “blessed ripe old” age of 88 years old. This refers to the Japanese tradition of “beiju“. Because the Chinese character of 88 looks similar to the character for rice. Rice, on the other hand, is considered to be a happy and sacred food in East Asia. That is why the age 88 is considered sacred.

Official statement by the SKIF Global Headquarter about the death of Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa.
Official statement by the SKIF Global Headquarter about the death of Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa.

Further, the announcement by the SKIF asked to abstain from attending the funeral. It will take part in the inner circle of the Kanazawa family. An official farewell takes place at the next SKIF international seminar in Tokyo in 2020.

The Karate World Mourns

A wave of condolences have been expressed by the karate world about the passing of Soke Kanazawa in the last days. Several thousand karate commented on facebook and other social media how deeply shocked and shattered they were. Many more sent blessings and best wishes to the family of Hirokazu Kanazawa.

The sympathies go thereby far beyond the community of Shotokan karateka. Also practitioners from other styles of karate expressed their mourning and grief. For instance, the Kyokushinkai channel The Martial Way published a R.I.P. post about the passing of Soke Kanazawa. Such acts display the tremendous respect Hirokazu Kanazawa enjoyed in the karate world.

The Shotokan Times also expressed its condolences by sending an email to Kancho Nobuaki Kanazawa, Shuseki Shihan Manabu Murakami, and the SKIF HQ. Thomas Prediger, Chair of the advisory board of The Shotokan Times, commented: “He was a living legend. Soke Kanazawa will be dearly missed. His guidance and character are invaluable. However, his legacy will continue in Shotokan. Because a worldwide community of students will now carry his torch.”

The picture shows Karate-Gis by SaikoSports, Taisei, and Momoko in the The Dojo Shop.

Dr. Christian Tribowski, Managing director and chief editor of The Shotokan Times, stated: “I had the chance to meet Soke Kanazawa last year during the 40th anniversary festivities of SKIF in Tokyo. His health had deteriorated already. But I did not imagine to see him for the last time. His death has left a huge void in the karate world. He was Mr. Shotokan, a splendid and charismatic personalty. Generations after generations have learnt from him the true meaning of karate do.”

Deteriorated Health of Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa

In January 2009, Kanazawa suffered a skiing accident. Trough a badly fall he crushed three vertebra. Although already in his 70´s he recovered and taught Shotokan until 2012. Then he retired and spend most of his time in Japan.

Beside the skiing accident rumors spread that Soke Kanazawa also suffered two strokes in the last decade. Last year on the 40th anniversary of SKIF in Tokyo, he had difficulties to walk and could barely speak. Yet, he was the charismatic karate master who had a room filling presents.

The Legend Hirokazu Kanazawa

Soke Kanazawa was an outstanding Karate master. Patrick Donkor and Dr. Christian Tribowski concluded in a recent portrait about him in The Shotokan Times:

“Hirokazu Kanazawa is considered one of the most skillful karate masters of all time. A great technician and an excellent instructor, he has built up a loyal and dedicated following of students. A gentle and sincere man, he has been able to convey the concepts of karate to many generations of students. As prolific author, he has also had many instructional books and videos produced. It could be argued that many people would not have started karate if they had not seen demonstrations from this very talented master. In any case, he is a true legend of Shotokan karate.”

Patrick Donkor and Dr. Christian Tribowski

Like no other, Hirokazu Kanazawa coined Shotokan karate in the 20´s century. He studied directly under Gichin Funakoshi and Masatoshi Nakayama. His technical elegance as well as his philosophy made him an unprecedented karate master. After leaving the JKA he founded the Shotokan Karate International Federation in the late 1970´s, which chief instructor and later soke he became.

Hirokazu Kanazawa About Life and Death

Soke Kanazawa´s karate do was highly influenced by Zen Buddhism. In an interview he stated about life and death:

” My philosophy is that I try always to be true to myself and to others … I can say that I fear nothing – not even death, and this I do not say in a big-headed or conceited way. My meaning is that I always try my best in everything I do, so I will be satisfied when I do die – I think the reason that people fear death is because they want to do and accomplish so many other things that are still undone . . . they always want to do more. Also, I truly believe that life continues after physical death – all life continues … life is a circle “.



22 thoughts on “Hirokazu Kanazawa has passed away – An Overview

  1. […] Master Hirokazu Kanazawa has passed away. Like no other, Hirokazu Kanazawa coined Shotokan karate in the 20´s century. His mastery and splendid personally will be missed but never forgotten. More info on Shotokantimes […]

      1. RIP So honoured to have trained under your tutelage. Roy Banton

  2. It is a sad news. I remember Kancho as one of the kindest person I ever met in my life. May his soul rest in peace!

  3. […] Oss Link: Update: Hirokazu Kanazawa has passed away – The Shotokan Times […]

  4. toute mes sympathies a la famille et sont epouse

    1. I deeply condole the passing away of the legend of Karate, Sensei Kanazawa . It is a huge loss to the followers of karate, a void, which will be difficult to fill. May his soul Rest in Peace.

  5. The world has lost a great karate master and he has made an incredible impact on the world of karate as well as Shotokan. He was the instructor of two of my teachers. So amazing! Rest in Peace Sensei.
    I can only imagine his conversations now with Funakoshi Sensei and Nakayama and Nishiyama Senseis he is having in Heaven as they welcome him to their dojo! Osu!

    1. well said dwight really great thought

  6. I’m proud to say I train with sensei Kanazawa he was a great man

  7. Really six block advertisements in one article about Kanazawa’s passing, I think that is very disrespectful and a desperate grab for cash riding of this significant news. All that serves to do is make people do the opposite in my opinion.

  8. […] [ December 9, 2019 ] Hirokazu Kanazawa has passed away – An Overview Articles […]

  9. I had the privilege of training with him and sharing a meal with him back in the 1970’s. His comments and training remain with me till this day. A great man. I wish him well on his next journey.

  10. condolences from all at the shotokan karate union and me personally as I was lucky enough to have known, trained with, stayed at his home in chiba and interviewed him on numerous occasions, His passing will leave a void in the karate world as this pioneering man was a genuine gentleman through and through a true legend and was a point of ethical reference for me and thousands of other karate-ka. Rest in Peace

    Congratulations to the shotokan times staff for being the first to clarify and issue the report of this tragedy

  11. Tuve la oportunidad de ser parte de su organizacion y recibir sus instrucciones en distintas clases y seminarios. El maestro fue mi fuente de inspiracion cuando decidi comenzar a practicar karate. Hoy estamos con un gran vacion ante la partida de quien fue una de las figuras mas importantes del karate a nivel mundial. Paz a su alma maestro.

  12. It was a great honor to have been able to train with Kancho and to know him as a great man. He will be extremely missed by everyone. We will all make sure that his ways of teaching and training continue in his spirit. Oss!

  13. „Everyone wants to be as good as Kanazawa, no one wants to work as hard as Kanazawa.“

  14. I had the honor of meeting Kanazawa Kancho several times on his visits to Minnesota and once in Hawaii. During those visits, he tested me to advance to the next Tai Chi levels. I will do my best to keep his unique flair embedded in the Tai Chi form that he taught and that I continue to practice. R.I.P.

  15. […] December the 8th 2019 Kanazawa Hirokazu passed away “peacefully”, according to the official announcement. I had the honor and pleasure to translate his […]

  16. […] The unexpected passing of Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa on December 8 was one of the saddest events in the …It shocked the whole karate world. Even beyond that, practitioners of other martial arts expressed their condolences. The Shotokan community fell into deep sorrow and mourning. It lost one of its greatest mentors, instructors, minds, spirits, and charismatic leaders. Without a doubt Hirokazu Kanazawa belonged to the most influential figures in Shotokan karate in the 20th Century. […]

  17. […] lost two of its 10th-dan masters in the last 6 months. Both were 88 years old. Kanazawa Hirokazu died in Japan on December 8. And this past Tuesday (April 21), Okazaki Teruyuki also passed […]

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